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Arzu Geybulla

Azerbaijan: New Kind of Diplomacy – No Monuments, No Relations!

Looks like priorities of the Azerbaijani government in building diplomatic relations are really shifting. According to this New York Times article Azerbaijani authorities are ready to mess their foreign policy based on a statue.

Big Brother is watching you! source: / @Turanoza

A little thank you note to @Turanoza on Twitter for sharing this.

24 November: Perhaps not many of you know but part of the country’s diplomatic relations building skills is based on investing heavily (talking millions here) in park renovations and presenting of monuments of the late President Haydar Aliyev as “presents” that accompany the new parks.
This might have worked in other counties where public reaction was always limited or non existent but not in Mexico. Many in Mexico were left puzzled seeing the statue of an ex-KGB general placed in a park next to some well known and historical figures as Gandhi and Abraham Lincoln.

What’s surprising here is however how easy apparently it is for the local Azerbaijani government to “damage” it’s foreign relations- if the statue goes in Mexico, so will the diplomatic relations between the two countries. Is it that simple? Do no international political relations and rules apply any longer? Our government will really close the embassy in Mexico if the statue is removed?

But the real burning question is then how will the Azerbaijani authorities explain this “sourness” once the statue is removed. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see…

Update 27 November:
Yes, its going to be about THAT monument again. You see, it just doesn’t stop fascinating me, really. Just today, I came across another article (thanks to a friend of mine who shared it) where my conclusions of just how “strong” and “deep” Azerbaijan’s diplomatic relations with its neighbors are, were confirmed. In a press statement Azerbaijan’s ambassador to Mexico, Ilgar Mukhtarov stated:

If Ebrard (Mexico’s Mayor) decides to remove the monument, we will CANCEL the projects, CLOSE the embassy, it would HURT the relationship between the two countries, and it WOULD NOT BE GOOD for his image to be the person who prevented a USD 4 billion investment.

So not only Ambassador Mukhtarov shows how shallow the essence of our diplomacy is (lets face it, removing a monument of a dictator shouldn’t play such an important role in foreign policy but who knew it would?!), he goes much further as to threaten the Mayor of Mexico as well. And wait, there is even more to it, by saying that Mexico will lose the USD4bn investment demonstrates in which ways and “deals” Azerbaijani government “invests” in other countries.

Now, don’t know who nudged our Ambassador, but who ever did it didn’t do too good of a job. That nudge should have been a strong shake. But too late now anyway. Still talking about “negotiating” and finding not just a solution but a “friendly” one. And what does that suppose to mean? That Azerbaijani government will offer to renovate another park? Alas, have mercy on your people Mr. President, because you still have the hungry children and many other issues that are awaiting your immediate attention not to mention a drizzle of some of that oil money you are spending elsewhere abroad for park renovations and monuments.

And what is the so- called “dispute”? If the people and the Mayor do not consider the monument fit, why are still even discussing it? Its Mexico’s decision! Our government is so much used to meddling with its own people’s decisions and their businesses that it considers everywhere and everyone to be the same…

I am just curious to see where this monument diplomacy will end…

This post was previously published on Arzu’s blog in 2 parts.

“Heydaristan”: photos by Amanda Ryvkin.

Read also: After IGF 2012: Why We Should Strive To Be Better…

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