Accessibility links

Azerbaijan, A Builder's Paradise


Baku's Crystal Hall by night, all $134 million of it -- does Azerbaijan need more equally expensive infrastructure projects?

Baku's Crystal Hall by night, all $134 million of it -- does Azerbaijan need more equally expensive infrastructure projects?

Just hours after Azerbaijan's bid to host the Olympic Games in Baku in 2020 was rejected by the International Olympic Committee, the head of Azerbaijan's soccer federation said his country had submitted a bid to co-host the European soccer championship with neighboring Georgia the same year.

After the 2000 tournament was co-hosted by Belgium and the Netherlands, splitting the championship and the requirements for new stadiums and infrastructure between two smaller (or poorer) countries has become typical, with Austria and Switzerland co-hosting in 2008 and Poland and Ukraine set to co-host this year's tournament.

The value of construction investments in "sports, hotel, and transport infrastructure (including roads, railways and airports) related to the organization of Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine" will approach $48 billion, according to estimates.

But given the controversy surrounding the murky tendering process and "forcible evictions" in the building of the showpiece Crystal Hall in Baku to host the Eurovision Song Contest this week, is more extravagant infrastructure really in the best interests of Azerbaijan?

A woman stands near a demolished house in Baku. Critics say the government has trampled on people's rights in razing homes for the Crystal Hall..

A woman stands near a demolished house in Baku. Critics say the government has trampled on people's rights in razing homes for the Crystal Hall..

About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

Show comments

XS
SM
MD
LG