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U.S. And Azerbaijan: Best Friends With Dirty Faces


Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev holds his "Friend of Journalists" Award aloft at a ceremony in Baku on December 29.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev holds his "Friend of Journalists" Award aloft at a ceremony in Baku on December 29.

Only your real friends will tell you when your face is dirty, or so says the old Sicilian proverb.

If that's the case, Baku and Washington must be the best of buddies.

The state-owned "Azerbaijan" newspaper published an article at the end of 2010 that criticized U.S. foreign policy as “dishonest and immoral." Titled “USA: Tempting 'Liberty,'” the article also accused several U.S. presidents and lawmakers of having illicit sexual relationships.

The article was signed simply “Azerbaijan” when it was published on December 30. However Baxtiyar Sadiqov, the newspaper's editor in chief and a member of the ruling Yeni Azerbaycan Party, later claimed to be its author.

Sadiqov told local media that his article was meant to represent the position of an ordinary Azerbaijani citizen whose country has become the victim of double standards. “These are the notes of a publicist who is against evil and the campaign of lies against his country,” Sadiqov said.

President Ilham Aliyev also referred obliquely to outside pressure being exerted on Azerbaijan, saying “some forces resort to other methods of blackmailing and libel after losing levers in Azerbaijan.”

Aliyev was speaking at a ceremony on December 29 during which he was presented with a "Friend Of Journalists" award (despite being considered a "Predator of Press Freedom" by Reporters Without Borders).

“The more pressure is exerted on us, the more persistent we become,” Aliyev said.

Relations betwen the United States and Azerbaijan have been rocky, due in part to Baku's human rights record, its lack of democratic freedoms, and U.S. efforts to restore ties between Turkey, a close Baku ally, and arch-foe Armenia.

Aliyev and U.S. President Barack Obama met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York in September, a meeting seen as an effort by the White House to mend relations.

A few weeks later, however, in its own version of the Sicilian proverb, the U.S. State Department criticized Azerbaijan's November 7 parliamentary elections, saying they had not met international standards and calling for those who had falsified the results to be held responsible.

-- Grant Podelco

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

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