Germany Acknowledges Azerbaijani Foreign Minister’s Corruption Without Direct Comment

Jeyhun Bayramov, the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister (first from left), and Mammad Ahmadzada, a member of his delegation and former Azerbaijani envoy to Italy (second from left), who faces numerous corruption allegations, meet with the German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. Facebook

 

June 14, 2024

In a recent exchange that highlights the delicate balance between diplomatic engagement and ethical governance, the German Federal Foreign Office (FFO) has provided a carefully worded response to inquiries about corruption allegations swirling around Azerbaijan’s foreign policy establishment. The response, while acknowledging concerns, stops short of addressing specific claims against high-ranking Azerbaijani officials.

The Herald sought comments from the FFO regarding allegations of corruption, nepotism, and financial irregularities against Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov during his recent working visit to Germany. The outlet cited reports of Bayramov using his position to benefit his family’s company and engaging in nepotistic practices within the ministry.

Adding to the controversy is the presence of Mammad Ahmadzada in Bayramov’s delegation to Germany. Ahmadzada, a former protégé of disgraced ex-foreign minister Elmar Mammadyarov, faced accusations of financial improprieties during his tenure as Azerbaijan’s envoy to Italy. His inclusion in the delegation has raised eyebrows, seen by critics as emblematic of the revolving door of controversial figures within Azerbaijani diplomacy.

Critics also point to Bayramov’s appointment of Raman Mammadov as his chief of staff as a glaring example of the minister’s penchant for recycling controversial figures. Mammadov, who followed Bayramov from the Ministry of Education, has become a lightning rod for criticism within the foreign ministry. Described by insiders as inexperienced and corrupt, Mammadov is seen as a symbol of mismanagement, particularly regarding recruitment and unfair dismissal issues that have plagued the ministry under the tenures of Bayramov and Mammadyarov.

These allegations are part of a broader pattern of misconduct claims engulfing Azerbaijani diplomacy. Presidential assistant Hikmat Hajiyev and deputy foreign minister Yalchin Rafiyev, Azerbaijan’s representative at COP 29, have also come under scrutiny. Rafiyev, like Bayramov, has been accused of leveraging his position for personal gain through lucrative contracts awarded to family-owned businesses.

The situation underscores a troubling continuity rather than the hoped-for reform following the 2020 ousting of Mammadyarov, notorious for corruption. Critics argue that Bayramov, far from cleaning house, has merely reshuffled the deck, appointing his own coterie while retaining tainted associates like Ahmadzada. The recycling of officials with checkered pasts into new roles has fueled skepticism about the depth of Azerbaijan’s commitment to rooting out corruption.

In response to The Azeri Herald’s pointed questions, the FFO provided a statement attributable to an unnamed spokesperson. The statement reaffirmed Germany’s commitment to supporting peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan and acknowledged “with concern allegations of corruption and the restrictions of fundamental freedoms in Azerbaijan.” However, it did not directly address whether the specific allegations against Bayramov or his delegation members were raised during his visit.

Instead, the FFO emphasized that such issues are “regularly and clearly” discussed with Azerbaijani counterparts, encouraging the implementation of good governance standards and increased transparency in democratic processes. The statement referenced recommendations from ODIHR and the Venice Commission, signaling alignment with international norms.

The FFO response also mentioned that during her conversation with the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, Jeyhun Bayramov, on the sidelines of the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Berlin, Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock emphasized Germany’s continued commitment to supporting Armenia and Azerbaijan in their pursuit of a lasting peace agreement. This exchange underscores the dual-track approach of German diplomacy: engaging with Azerbaijan on regional stability while also addressing governance concerns.

The allegations against Bayramov, Rafiyev, Ahmadzada, and others cast a long shadow over Azerbaijan’s international standing at a time when the country seeks to bolster its global image, not least as the host of the upcoming COP 29 climate conference. The German response, with its emphasis on continued dialogue rather than concrete action, leaves open the question of how forcefully Western partners are willing to push for reforms in practice.

As the diplomatic dance continues, the core issues of corruption and governance in Azerbaijan remain unresolved. The persistence of figures like Ahmadzada or Mammadov in positions of influence, despite past controversies, only underscores the challenge. The German FFO’s delicate balancing act – acknowledging concerns without confronting them head-on – may preserve diplomatic channels in the short term. However, it also risks undermining long-term efforts to foster genuine transparency and accountability in a region where such values are increasingly under strain.

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