The US Ambassador on the suppression of the press, Congressional sanctions and a trip to Shusha

The US Ambassador on the suppression of the press, Congressional sanctions and a trip to Shusha

Since November last year, there has been a suppression of the independent press and civil society in Azerbaijan, which is extremely disturbing and sets Azerbaijan back years, US Ambassador to Azerbaijan Mark Libby said in an interview with a group of journalists on Friday.  According to him, the United States is taking all possible measures to improve the situation. "We do this openly in meetings with our colleagues. We are doing something openly, something privately, and we will continue this," the ambassador said.

What can the United States do to prevent the arrests of journalists and civil society activists in Azerbaijan? Answering this question, the Ambassador said that Secretary Blinken had called President Aliyev about and raised human rights and detention issues. "But you need to ask the Azerbaijani authorities what happened," the ambassador said.

Azerbaijan has international obligations and the United States will continue to raise such issues and will continue to support independent media, he continued. The Azerbaijani authorities present the cases of arrested journalists and public activists as money smuggling. The talk is about funds allocated by Western countries, including the United States. Does this mean an attack against the United States?

To this, the ambassador said that the American side is doing everything in a meaningful way. And if there is any dissatisfaction, then you need to ask the Azerbaijani authorities about it. How will the proposals of the US congressmen on the imposition of sanctions against Azerbaijani officials affect the American-Azerbaijani relations?

To this question, the ambassador replied that this idea did not come from the administration of the US president. The Ambassador did not comment on who initiated this, what the prospects of this bill are and what it says. As for how this will affect bilateral relations, the diplomat recommended reading the reaction of the official Azerbaijani press. But in order to prevent the appearance of such documents, it is worth improving the state of human rights, he added.

A year ago, USAID presented the media and NGOs of Azerbaijan with a series of projects that were implemented. However, starting in the autumn of last year, the authorities began to initiate criminal proceedings against those who participated in these projects. What happened? Did not USAID coordinate the allocation of grants with the authorities, or did official Baku agree and then violate the agreement? The ambassador did not give an unambiguous answer to this question from Turan. According to him, the American side did everything within the framework of legality.

"This is the decision of the Azerbaijani government to suppress the independent press. If they represent this, laundering dirty money, and harassing journalists and public figures, then this means a change in policy. I do not know why they are doing this," he said. The Ambassador further noted that bilateral relations include serious cooperation in economic, political and other spheres and they will continue.

What should official Baku do if the bill on imposing sanctions against 44 Azerbaijani government officials has not been adopted?  The ambassador evaded a direct answer to this question from Turan, noting: "Will people criticize human rights violations if the violations stop?"   How does the United States perceive Baku's warm relations with Moscow and cold relations with Washington?

In response to Turan's question, the ambassador said that Azerbaijan lives next door to "dangerous neighbors." It is up to Azerbaijan to decide with whom to build relations, but if you look at Russia's actions in Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Syria and other places, it is clear that proximity with Russia is "unproductive."

"This is an aggressive, unproductive country. Azerbaijan should take this into account and decide for itself how to defend its sovereignty," he said. The ambassador  does not go to Shusha, but at the same time he  visits the neighboring regions of Azerbaijan? Why? The ambassador answered Turan's question: "There are no political reasons for this. I'll go when I'm ready, while I'm not ready."

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İran Prezidentinin həlak olduğu hadisə Azərbaycan- İran münasibətlərinə təsir edə bilərmi? – Nəsimi Məmmədli Çətin sualda

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