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Dear President Barroso,
On June 14 you will be visiting Azerbaijan, where you will be meeting President Ilham Aliyev to hold bilateral talks, and you will be giving a speech at the ADA University on “EU-Azerbaijan: New Opportunities and Challenges.”
The European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy would like to once again draw your attention to Azerbaijan, a country which the Freedom House categorizes as a “Consolidated Authoritarian Regime,” with Ilham Aliyev, the President of Azerbaijan, being the first ever Organized Crime and Corruption Person of the Year bestowed by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, who “succeeded his father in 2003, continuing and intensifying the most repressive aspects of his father’s rule. Since then, the inflow of significant oil revenues has fueled presidential patronage, strengthened the state’s security apparatus, and partially subdued both domestic and foreign criticism of the regime.”
It was only yesterday that the Foreign Policy magazine ran an investigative piece titled “The Corleones of the Caspian. How Azerbaijan’s dictator woos the United States and Europe,” stressing that while the national debate is controlled at home through means of intimidation, censorship, and legal jury-rigging, Azerbaijan’s greater mission is to whitewash its reputation abroad. When it hasn’t resorted to all-expenses-paid vacations to Baku — a form of what European Stability Initiative witheringly describes as “caviar diplomacy” — it has spent millions of dollars on U.S. and European lobbying, consultancy, and PR firms to whitewash its image in the American and European media. The Aliyev regime, thus, have managed to buy friends and influence people, including past and present members of the U.S. Congress, British Parliament, and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which was once known for pressuring dictatorships, not embracing them.
It was less than a month ago, that the Bureau of PACE (Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe) decided that no more Assembly committee meetings will be held in Azerbaijan for two years, as of 1 June 2014.
We urge you to address those issues at your meetings and stress the anti-Armenian propaganda going on in Azerbaijan as well, which reached its height in September 2012, when Ilham Aliyev pardoned Ramil Safarov upon his arrival to Baku from Hungary, where he was convicted for murdering an Armenian colleague during a course sponsored by NATO’s Partnership for Peace Program in Budapest; whereas Safarov had pleaded guilty and had expressed no remorse, defending his action on the grounds that the victim was Armenian.
Furthermore, the European Armenian Federation asks you to stress that Azerbaijan respect the OSCE Minsk Group mediation efforts in solving the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, withdraw the snipers along the line of contact, and accept the creation of a mechanism of investigation of incidents, which Armenia has already agreed to.
At your speech at the ADA, we ask you to address all the above mentioned issues to the youth and the students, that it needs more than an oppressing regime to develop and democratize a country, and that for a lasting peace in the region, there should be confidence building measures between the peoples, mutual understanding, tolerance and acceptance.
The 2% of Azerbaijani gas flowing to Europe should not blind the EU Commission, should not make it accomplice to violations of core EU values and rights, in the hope of signing a Strategic Modernization Partnership and an Association Agreement with Baku and the Aliyev regime, whose victims are the Azerbaijani people and the region.
European Armenian Federation for Justice & Democracy