Aliyev asks the Arab League and Turkey to pressure PACE to readmit Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev repeatedly states: “I don’t care who says what about my country, I will continue doing whatever I want.” However, this is a cover up. Regardless of his public tough talk, Azerbaijan is working behind the scenes to manage its conflicts with other countries.

Last week, I wrote that Azerbaijan asked the Israeli government to intercede with France to improve their relations, which have deteriorated in recent years due to the French support of Armenia in the Artsakh conflict. Since Israel turned down Aliyev’s request to mediate with France, Azerbaijan started looking for other channels to resolve its problems with Europe.

After the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) suspended Azerbaijan’s membership, Aliyev asked the League of Arab States to intervene with the Europeans to restore Azerbaijan’s status. On February 13, 2024, at Azerbaijan’s request, Adel bin AbdulRahman Al-Asoomi, president of the Arab League’s Parliament, sent a letter to the president of PACE, Theodoros Rousopoulos, complaining about the resolution PACE had adopted refusing to ratify the credentials of the delegation of Azerbaijan.

The President of the Arab Parliament told PACE: “The Arab Parliament expresses its deep regret over the adoption of this resolution; the Republic of Azerbaijan is a friend and strategic partner of the Arab States and plays a significant and influential role to preserve cultural diversity and to promote dialogue among civilizations…The Republic of Azerbaijan is a member of the Council of Europe since 2001 and plays a major role in promoting activities of this organization and achieving its principles and objectives. At the global level, it makes concerted efforts to lower tensions and conflicts…”

The president of the Arab Parliament then counseled PACE: “Multilateral parliamentary diplomacy must be an instrument to reconcile points of view, and a wall of resistance in front of any divisions, and an added value for the diffusion of the principles of peace and tolerance.”

The letter ended by urging PACE to reconsider its earlier resolution that had refused to ratify the credentials of Azerbaijan’s parliamentary delegation, “which contradict the principles of dialogue and cooperation.”

Naturally, Azerbaijan’s Parliament (Milli Majlis) immediately publicized the Arab Parliament’s letter, which was also published by several Azeri newspapers.

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev with President of the Arab Parliament Adel bin Abdulrahman Al-Asoomi, May 2023 (President of the Republic of Azerbaijan)

It is very odd that the Arab Parliament would intervene with PACE on a matter that has nothing to do with Arab states. Azerbaijan is neither a member nor an observer of the Arab League. How can the president of the Arab Parliament call Azerbaijan “a friend and strategic partner of Arab States,” when it is an ally of Israel and buys billions of dollars of Israeli weapons? That is the reason Azerbaijan’s request for observer status in the past was rejected by the Arab League. The only possible explanation for the Arab Parliament’s willingness to write a letter to PACE is that Azerbaijan was engaged in its usual practice of ‘Caviar Diplomacy,’ meaning that it made a very generous donation to the Arab League. Therefore, the Arab Parliament’s statement about Azerbaijan seeking dialogue and peace has nothing to do with reality.

Since Armenia has had an observer status with the League of Arab States since 2005, I am curious to know if Armenia’s representative in the League was aware that the Arab Parliament was considering sending such a letter to PACE in support of Azerbaijan. If yes, what actions, if any, did he or she take to object to sending such a letter?

In addition to the Arab League, Azerbaijan is pursuing its lobbying efforts at PACE through its big brother, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Yasar Yakis, the former Foreign Minister of Turkey and founder of the ruling AK Party, wrote in Arab News on February 25: “Turkey has strongly opposed the suspension of Azerbaijan [from PACE]…Even if Azerbaijan’s membership of the Council of Europe is suspended, it could survive without being a member.”

Earlier in February, when Aliyev visited Erdogan in Ankara, the Turkish president pledged to do everything possible “to get Azerbaijan’s credentials validated at PACE. We will continue our support and efforts for Azerbaijan until the decision [not to ratify its credentials] is overturned.” Erdogan added that Turkey will stress that PACE should be a platform for “parliamentary democracy rather than conflict.” However, Aliyev and Erdogan do not have parliamentary democracy and peace in their own countries.

If Aliyev truly does not care what actions other countries take against Azerbaijan, he would not have gone to such great lengths to lobby the Arab League and Pres. Erdogan to restore his country’s credentials at PACE. He would have simply ignored PACE’s decision.

The truth is that Aliyev deeply cares about his image. Most dictators, having violated all sorts of domestic and international laws, do everything possible to whitewash their crimes and try to look like an angel in the eyes of the world.

Harut Sassounian

Harut Sassounian

California Courier Editor
Harut Sassounian is the publisher of The California Courier, a weekly newspaper based in Glendale, Calif. He is the president of the Armenia Artsakh Fund, a non-profit organization that has donated to Armenia and Artsakh one billion dollars of humanitarian aid, mostly medicines, since 1989 (including its predecessor, the United Armenian Fund). He has been decorated by the presidents of Armenia and Artsakh and the heads of the Armenian Apostolic and Catholic churches. He is also the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.

1 Comment

  1. We thought that Putin cared about his and Russia’s image, until he occupied and annexed Crimea and later invaded Ukraine. Obviously he doesn’t. Aliyev may care about his and Azerbaijan’s image. He also may or may not, if he and Azerbaijan are finally and thoroughly sanctioned. Dictators like Putin, Aliyev or Erdogan, will always test and push the limits of the “international community”. With Putin, the final straw was the invasion of Ukraine. What will the final straw with Aliyev be, as well as with his fellow dictator Erdogan of Turkey, who collude together against Armenia? Since Azerbaijan and Turkey neither have the military knowhow, the vast mineral and hydrocarbon reserves and the huge “rainy day” savings of Russia, to keep them going if they were sanctioned, they would have economically collapsed and their dictators could have fallen as well. Putin, Aliyev and Erdogan should have been sanctioned way in the beginning, and Aliyev and Erdogan are still not sanctioned but emboldened.

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