The Azerbaijani regime wants to present a positive image in Europe because it needs support for its flagship project, write four campaigners
The Guardian’s Azerbaijani Laundromat investigation (UK at heart of $3bn secret payments by Azerbaijan, 5 September) has uncovered thousands of covert payments as part of a European lobbying effort. But the article doesn’t mention the elephant in the room. Azerbaijan is particularly keen to present a positive image in Europe because it needs significant European support for its flagship project – the Southern Gas Corridor – despite the regime’s serial human rights abuses, systemic corruption and election rigging.
The corridor, one of the biggest infrastructure projects undertaken by the fossil fuel industry with a total cost of about $45bn, will carry gas from Azerbaijan to Europe. Powerful interests from fossil fuel corporations to European governments are pushing through this unnecessary project against the will of communities and threatening human rights and a safe climate.
The Southern Gas Corridor and its importance to the Aliyev regime is the missing piece of the puzzle and partly explains why the Azerbaijani regime is so heavily involved in lobbying at the European level and related money-laundering activities.