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MEPs’ Azerbaijan Trip Results In Softened Criticism

The Azerbaijani revelation of two MEPs:

  • Engin Eroglu and Franc Bogovic
  • Engin Eroglu and Franc Bogovic. – D.R.

Following a trip offered by the Baku authorities, two elected officials (Engin Eroglu and Franc Bogovic) suddenly changed their discourse on Azerbaijan.

Critics of the Baku regime, MEPs Engin Eroglu (Germany, Renew group) and Franc Bogovic (Slovenia, EPP group) have significantly softened their position after an invitation trip to this former Soviet republic in September 2022, revealed the December 7 Swedish investigative site Blankspot.

Previously, in March, the two men had passed a resolution condemning Azerbaijan’s destruction of important Armenian heritage and deploring “a policy of Armenophobia, historical revisionism and hatred towards Armenians encouraged by the Azerbaijani authorities”. In the same logic, Mr. Eroglu had on September 14 criticized on social networks the President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, for not having denounced the authoritarian and warlike excesses of Baku in her speech on the State of Union: “During her speech, Ursula von der Leyen made it clear that the EU fully supports Ukraine. I’m happy about that, of course! (…) What is however interesting, for me, is what was not discussed (…) A few words critical of Azerbaijan would also have been appropriate. Ruled since 1993 by the Aliyev family, this southern Caucasian republic has a score of 9 – between Belarus and Sudan – on Freedom House, an NGO which continuously assesses access to political rights and civil liberties in 210 country. And she is in 154th position (out of 180) in the 2022 ranking of Reporters without Borders.

Carpets And Vineyards

Is it to judge for themselves the relevance of these criticisms that the two MEPs, a few days after the criticism addressed to the President of the Commission, flew to Baku? Still, responding to an invitation from the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry, they landed on September 21 at Heydar Aliyev International Airport. On the program of this four-day visit, it emerges from the declaration that they deposited three months later on the offices of Parliament, official meetings, interviews with local journalists, the presentation of a “smart village” , a guided walk through the capital, a visit to the Carpet Museum and then a visit to a vineyard.

Official reason for this tour: the two MEPs are members of the RUMRA & Smart villages intergroup, which focuses on the development of rural regions. It is in this capacity that they delivered, from the Marriott hotel which accommodated them, a long interview on the state television CBC, calling for a strengthening of the links – in particular energy – between the Union and the ‘Azerbaijan. A desire for cooperation that Engin Eroglu reiterated less than two months later on his Facebook account to conclude a meeting with the Azerbaijani ambassador to Germany.

“This trip has indeed been declared, the delay is due to an administrative error”, comments Mr. Bogovic. “This mission was carried out in complete transparency (…), the only goal was to visit a smart village, which was built in just nine months. Mr. Bogovic denies having suddenly, on his return from this trip, changed his opinion on Azerbaijan. “This mission was in fact completely devoid of political motivation, it was also a precondition. His travel companion did not respond to our request for clarification.

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