The Causes of Aliyev’s “Humanity”
Days before Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev pardoned Russian blogger Alexander Lapshin, after which Lapshin’s letter was published, who confessed his guilt and wished Azerbaijan success in returning its “occupied territories.”
The content of Lapshin’s letter is not surprising at all, as it is clear in what conditions Lapshin wrote it and for the sake of what. At the same time, it is clear that Aliev’s forgiveness and this manifestation of humanity is not conditioned by Lapshin’s confession. This letter was just a step to save Baku’s face. Thus this was forced to blogger as the last condition of release.
It is another question what made Aliyev make a decision to pardon Alexander Lapshin, who visited Artsakh.
The criticisms and calls from the West on the pressures on journalists, political activists, and civil society representatives are not something new for official Baku. And it is difficult to suppose that they have motivated Aliev to release Lapshin, a representative of the black list. At the same time, the intensification and combination with other factors can dramatically complicate the life of Aliyev’s regime.
The scandalous revelation named “Azerbaijani Laundromat” was one of such factors. This publication on bribery of Western officials, one of the most shocking events in the world, once again drew the attention of the West to the fact that the activities of the authoritarian regime has ceased to be their internal affairs and is now a threat to the European system of values and traditions formed over the centuries. Caviar diplomacy is starting to severely damage the international image of European institutions and it worries the Europeans. The process of Pedro Agramunt’s dismissal and the creation of the PACE Anti-Corruption Commission are vivid evidence of that.
It is natural that it cannot but have its influence on the EU-Azerbaijan, West-Azerbaijan relations. On the one hand, this whole scandal will make European officials more cautious, significantly reducing the opportunities of Baku to deal with them. On the other hand, it will naturally lead to increased pressure of European structures on Azerbaijan, voicing the silenced topics, including sanctions. And this cannot but bother Baku now.
If we add the pressure from the West on the illegal detention of the founder of opposition Turan agency, Mehman Aliyev, including raising the issue of putting sanctions against a number of Azerbaijani officials in the United States to all this, the picture becomes more and more clear.
At the same time, taking into consideration the complicated relations between Turkey and the EU and the slightest possibility of getting support from Ankara, in the current situation, Baku has to “make concessions” not to create new problems for itself and not to exacerbate international pressure. The release of Lapshin, the release of the founder of Turan, as well as the participants of Nardaran protests, is among these concessions.
This process will most likely have its impact in the context of the Karabakh conflict. The military rhetoric and destructiveness of Baku in the negotiation process remain unnoticed by the mediators, including the United States and France. And in this regard, Baku will have to “make concessions”. Taking into consideration the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs to restore and advance the negotiation process after the April war, it is natural that Baku will be urged to be constructive in the upcoming meetings. In the light of the current tense relations with the West, it will be difficult for Aliyev to be loyal to his tradition of overthrowing the negotiations and refusing to implement the reached agreements. So, in New York, within the framework of the UN GA, difficult negotiations are expected for Azerbaijan.