French parliament initiates Commission to Investigate Azerbaijan’s suspicious ties with French MPs
French parliament initiates Commission to Investigate Azerbaijan’s suspicious ties with French MPs –
French Union of Democrats and Independents (UDI) party intends to create a Commission onInvestigating Bilateral Relations between France and Azerbaijan. The reason is the intricate diplomatic situation, the website of the French newspaper Le Figaro writes
According to the newspaper, the relations between France and Azerbaijan can be marred after the UDI initiates the creation of the investigating committee of“evaluating political, economic, and diplomatic relations between France and Azerbaijan” in the National Assembly.
The Foreign Affairs Committee in the Palais Bourbon has included the project in the agenda. ÉlisabethGuigou – a socialist politician and the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Assembly – will consider the appeal on Wednesday. The French diplomats will reportedlytestify under oath.
As a response, Azerbaijan has mobilized its numerous political supporters from the Parliamentary Friendship Group. It is reminded that in September of 2015, the close and opaque ties between several French MPs and the Azerbaijani authorities were uncovered in the Cash Investigation TV program on France 2 channel.
Le Figaro highlights that six French MPs, auto sport fans, were invited to Baku to Formula 1 European Grand Prix. There, they met the Azerbaijani authoritarian presidentIlhamAliyev. MP Jean-François Mancel, who had been incriminatedin violations, was also among them.
In his turn, ElchinAmirbekov, Azerbaijan’s ambassador to Paris, threatened with crisis in diplomatic relations. He sent letters to all the UDI MPs with warnings aboutdiplomatic and economic consequences of the creation of the Committee.
Earlier, it has been reported numerous times about the bribery of foreign politicians and lobbyist organizations by the Azerbaijani authorities for promoting their interests abroad. For example, the Italian media recentlyreported that the Office of Public Prosecutor of Milan accused Luca Volonte – the former head of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe’s (PACE)faction of the European People’s Party–in accepting bribe of 2 million 390 thousands of euros for conducting political activities in the interests of the Azerbaijani authorities.
Moreover, according to the American journal Foreign Policy, the registration documents of the Azerbaijani government and its American lobbyists show that in 2014, the country and those acting on its behalfspent$4 million on efforts to win influence among think tanks and lawmakers. It was noted that in February 2015, the Azerbaijani embassy increased the monthly fee of its main lobbyist, Podesta Group, from $50,000 to $75,000. The Podesta Group registration documents exposed hundreds of contracts with the Congress, executive authorities’ agencies, media, and investigating centers. Later, Azerbaijan managed to win influence in Washington, and many congressmen started to make statements in Azerbaijan’s favor. At the same time, the documented violations of the presidentIlhamAliyev’s regime against its own citizens were not mentioned in those statements.