Azerbaijan attempts to “buy love for money”

About 600 influential guests gathered at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC for dinner and show, sponsored by the Azerbaijani-American alliance on October 30th. This reception is part of the aggressive strategy of “caviar diplomacy” of Baku, which consists in using numerous gifts, treats and other incentives to persuade the opinion of influential people towards Azerbaijan, reports the source of Radio Liberty.

“Almost 50 years ago, the Beatles gave the world a song “Money can’t buy me love”. However, authorities of Azerbaijan, which receive considerable revenues from the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, seem intent on proving the opposite”, says the report.

However, according to the former US Ambassador to Azerbaijan Richard Kozlarich, “Such events only emphasize the contrast between reality and fiction about Azerbaijan”.

The radio station recalls that the term “caviar democracy” appeared in the headline of the May 2012 in report of the European Stability Initiative (ESI). The author of the report and ESI Chairman Herald Knaus believes that despite the deterioration of the human rights situation in Azerbaijan, the Council of Europe “is less and less insistent and increasingly quiet in its criticism”.

According to Gerald Knaus, Baku’s efforts are “systematic” and “very aggressive.” The “caviar diplomacy” of Azerbaijan includes a systematic approach to finding friends, inviting people in large numbers. Every year dozens of members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) are invited to Baku by pro-government NGOs or directly by the government. This includes a lot of very aggressive lobbying, promises, and then – offering positions as lobbyists to people who previously held very important positions in the Council of Europe, in order to send a clear message:”if you are on our side, you can become a well-paid lobbyist”.

According to the ESI report on elections in Azerbaijan, no more than 50 organizations sent observation missions to Baku, 49 of which, mostly unclear and having links with Azerbaijan-funded NGOs such as GEFDAB, praised the vote. The only organization that called elections non-democratic and did not meet international standards was the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), after which they threatened to sharply reduce cooperation with the OSCE.

The human rights defender and former US diplomat in Baku, Rebecca Vincent, calls the actions of many European deputies “unethical” and says that such a policy of Azerbaijan “substantially hampers human rights work in some European organizations.”