Human Rights: Transparency International Wants German Pressure on Azerbaijan

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Global anti-corruption watchdog, the Transparency International (TI) has expressed its desire to see German Chancellor Angela Merkel pressure Azerbaijan over its government’s record on human rights, corruption and treatment of activists when she visits this weekend.

According to Transparency International on Friday, from media reports, “a key item on Chancellor Merkel’s agenda is German support for the Southern Corridor natural gas pipelines.

“Germany is reportedly considering granting Azerbaijan a €1.2bn loan towards the project” a statement by the anti-corruption body said.

The statement quoted the legal advisor at Transparency International, Adam Foldes, saying, “Both Azerbaijan and Germany are entitled to seek a good deal from Chancellor Merkel’s visit to Azerbaijan this weekend.

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“But as the leader of most influential member of the European Union, Chancellor Merkel must ensure that her actions promote and represent European values, and bring enduring results for the release of political prisoners and eased restrictions on funding for civil society organisations,” Foldes said.

With Transparency International’s chapter in the country significantly minimised its activities due to problems with state registration of foreign funding, Foldes added that “Last month, MEPs called for future European relations with Azerbaijan to be predicated on supporting democracy, the rule of law and human rights. Germany should adhere to the same principle in its dealings with the country.”

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In July, TI recalled, MEPs recommended that the EU “put in place specific provisions to help Azerbaijan to fight economic crime, including corruption, money laundering and tax evasion, and back investigations into laundering schemes, notably the “Laundromat” affair.”

The ‘Azerbaijan Laundromat’ refers to a US$2.9bn slush fund allegedly sponsored by the Azerbaijani government that used shell companies to launder money and bribe European politicians to supress independent human rights reports, finance fake election observation missions and launder the reputation of the government.

“In negotiating any deal with the government of Azerbaijan, the German government should insist on freedom for political prisoners, a free and pluralistic media landscape, space for activists to protest and participate in decision making, and concrete measures against corruption”, Transparency International said.

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