Dear friends of ESI,
A new ESI report
Caviar Diplomacy: How Azerbaijan Silenced the Council of Europe Part One –
which was published today describes how an authoritarian regime in Baku has
managed to sidestep its commitments to the Council of Europe, silenced its
critics and turned international election monitoring into political theatre.
This is the story of how Europe's oldest human rights organisation has been
neutered by a smart and ruthless policy. Azerbaijani officials referred to it as
"caviar diplomacy": a policy that began in 2001, not long after Azerbaijan
joined the Council of Europe, the continent's club of democratic nations. It
gathered speed after Ilham Aliyev, who had served in the Council of Europe's
parliamentary assembly (PACE), became president of Azerbaijan in 2003. Once the
Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline was completed in 2005 and the Azerbaijani state
coffers were awash in oil revenues, the "caviar policy" shifted into top gear.
The aim was to win and retain the stamp of legitimacy conferred by Council of
Europe membership while preserving the authoritarian structures of an autocratic
regime. Azerbaijan has not held a single competitive election since Heydar
Aliyev, the father of current president Ilham Aliyev, came to power in 1993,
following a coup against the first elected president. The Central Election
Commission, in charge of organising elections, has stacked the deck so firmly in
favour of the incumbent government that no political competition is possible,
fair or otherwise. In the parliamentary election of 2010, not a single
opposition candidate managed to win a seat.
How, then, could the head of the PACE election observation mission in 2010
declare that the elections had met international and Council of Europe
standards? Why, when the human rights situation has steadily deteriorated since
2003, has debate in PACE on Azerbaijan become ever more anodyne, even
Beneath the institutional failure, it is also a story about
individuals and the difference they can make, for better or worse, within
institutions like the Council of Europe. The cast of this story – the critics
and the apologists – are Swiss, Belgian, British, German, Spanish and Turkish;
they are liberals, social democrats, conservatives, nationalists and former
communists. In Azerbaijan too many of them have betrayed the values and
traditions set out in the European Convention on Human Rights. The result may
well be the most serious crisis of legitimacy in the history of the Council of
When Azerbaijan was admitted to the Council of Europe,
despite well documented democratic failings, it was with the idea that Council
of Europe membership would gradually transform Azerbaijan. Sadly, the reverse
has occurred. The outcome is a tragedy for the citizens of Azerbaijan,
particularly those brave pro-democracy activists who languish in jail as
political prisoners. But it is also a tragedy for Europe, whose values have been
trampled. For the PACE parliamentarians enjoying the benefits of caviar
diplomacy are also sitting members of national parliaments across Europe. And it
is certainly a tragedy for the Council of Europe itself, which urgently needs to
recover the values its founders entrusted it with if it is to justify its
Many best wishes,
Generation Facebook in Baku. Adnan, Emin and the Future of Dissent in
Is Azerbaijan still a democracy? Does anybody care? (2011)
"Eurovision's Dirty Secret" (video), 22 May 2012
The Foreign Policy Centre,
Spotlight on Azerbaijan, ed. by Adam Hug. London, May 2012
Running Scared: Azerbaijan's Silenced Voices, 26 March 2012
Human Rights Watch,
"They Took Everything from Me": Forced Evictions, Unlawful
Expropriations, and House Demolitions in Azerbaijan's Capital, 29
"Azerbaijan: No more running scared", 20 February 2012
European Stability Initiative (ESI)
Tel: +49 30 53214455
Fax: +49 30 53214457
© European Stability Initiative (ESI)
Gunboat Diplomacy in the South China Sea – Chinese
On the eastern, ascendant flank of the Eurasian continent, the Chinese
vertigo economy is overheated and too-well integrated in the petrodollar system.
Beijing, presently, cannot contemplate or afford to allocate any resources in a
search for an alternative. (The Sino economy is low-wage- and labor intensive-
centered. Chinese revenues are heavily dependent on exports and Chinese reserves
are predominantly a mix of the USD and US Treasury bonds.) To sustain itself as
a single socio-political and formidably performing economic entity, the People’s
Republic requires more energy and less external dependency. Domestically, the
demographic-migratory pressures are huge, regional demands are high, and
expectations are brewing. Considering its best external energy dependency
equalizer (and inner cohesion solidifier), China seems to be turning to its
military upgrade rather than towards the resolute alternative energy/Green Tech
investments – as it has no time, plan or resources to do both at once.
Inattentive of a broader picture, Beijing (probably falsely) believes that
lasting containment, especially in the South China Sea, is unbearable, and that
– at the same time – fossil-fuels are available (e.g., in Africa and the Gulf),
and even cheaper with the help of warships.
In effect, the forthcoming Chinese military buildup will only strengthen the
existing and open up new bilateral security deals of neighboring countries,
primarily with the US – as nowadays in Asia, none wants to be a passive
downloader. Ultimately, it may create a politico-military isolation (and
financial burden) for China that would consequently justify and (politically and
financially) cheapen the bolder American military presence in the Asia-Pacific,
especially in the South China Sea. It perfectly adds up to the intensified
demonization of China in parts of influential Western media. Hence, the Chinese
grab for fossil fuels or its military competition for naval control is not a
challenge but rather a boost for the US Asia-Pacific – even an overall –
posture. (Managing the contraction of its overseas projection and commitments –
some would call it managing the decline of an empire – the US does not fail to
note that nowadays half of the world’s merchant tonnage passes though the South
China Sea. Therefore, the US will exploit any regional territorial dispute and
other frictions to its own security benefit, including the costs sharing of its
military presence by the local partners, as to maintain pivotal on the maritime
edge of Asia that arches from the Persian Gulf to the Indian Ocean, Malacca and
South China Sea up to the northwest–central Pacific.) A real challenge is always
to optimize the (moral political and financial) costs in meeting the national
strategic objectives. In this case, it would be a resolute turn of China towards
green technology, coupled with the firm buildup of the Asian multilateralism.
Without a grand rapprochement to the champions of multilateralism in Asia, which
are Indonesia, India and Japan, there is no environment for China to seriously
evolve and emerge as a formidable, lasting and trusted global leader.
Consequently, what China needs in Asia is not a naval race of 1908, but the
Helsinki process of 1975.
Opting for either strategic choice will reverberate in the dynamic Asia–Pacific
theatre. However, the messages are diametrical: An assertive military –
alienates, new technology – attracts neighbors. Finally, armies conquer (and
spend) while technology builds (and accumulates)!
At this point, any eventual accelerated armament in the
Asia-Pacific theatre would only strengthen the hydrocarbon status quo. With its
present configuration, it is hard to imagine that anybody can outplay the US in
the petro-security, petro-financial and petro-military global playground in the
following few decades. Given the planetary petro-financial-tech-military causal
constellations, this type of confrontation is so well mastered by and would
further only benefit the US and the closest of its allies.
Within the OECD/IEA grouping, or closely; the G-8 (the
states with resources, infrastructure, tradition of and know-how to advance the
fundamental technological breakthroughs), it is only Japan that may seriously
consider a Green/Renewable-tech U-turn. Tokyo’s external energy dependencies are
stark and long-lasting. After the recent nuclear trauma, Japan will need a few
years to (psychologically and economically) absorb the shock – but it will learn
a lesson. For such a huge formidable economy and considerable demography,
situated on a small land-mass which is repeatedly brutalized by devastating
natural catastrophes (and dependent on yet another disruptive external influence
– Arab oil), it might be that a decisive shift towards green energy is the only
way to survive, revive, and eventually to emancipate.
An important part of the US–Japan security treaty is the US
energy supply lines security guaranty given to (the post-WWII demilitarized)
Tokyo. After the recent earthquake-tsunami-radiation Armageddon, as well as
witnessing the current Chinese military/naval noise, Japan will inevitably
rethink and revisit its energy policy, as well as the composition of its primary
Tokyo is well aware that the Asian geostrategic myopias are
strong and lasting, as many Asian states are either locked up in their narrow
regionalisms or/and entrenched in their economic egoisms. Finally, Japan is the
only Asian country that has clearly learned from its own modern history, all
about the limits of hard power projection and the strong repulsive forces that
come in aftermath from the neighbors. Their own pre-modern and modern history
does not offer a similar experience to other two Asian heavyweights, China and
India. That indicates the Far East as a probable zone of the Green-tech
excellence and a place of attraction for many Asians in the decade to come.
Anis H. Bajrektarevic, Geopolitics of Energy Editorial Member
Chairperson for Intl. Law & Global Pol. Studies
Vienna, May 20, 2012
 More on the
pan-Asian architectures in my 2011 work: “Preventive diplomacy: No Asian
The International Institute for Middle-East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES)
in Ljubljana, Slovenia, regularly analyses events in the Middle East and the
Balkans. IFIMES has analysed current events in Serbia in view of the second
round of early presidential election scheduled for 20 May 2012. The most
interesting sections from the analysis entitled “SERBIA:
MILOŠEVIĆ'S PEOPLE DECIDE ABOUT THE FUTURE OF SERBIA” are published
MILOŠEVIĆ’S PEOPLE DECIDE ABOUT THE FUTURE OF SERBIA
The first round of presidential election in Serbia took place on 6
May 2012. The largest amount of votes went to Boris Tadić (25,33%)
from the coalition “For a better life – Boris Tadić” and Tomislav Nikolić
(24,99%) from the coalition “Let’s move Serbia – Tomislav Nikolić”.
The majority of votes at the parliamentary election went to the following
coalitions: “Let’s move Serbia – Tomislav Nikolić” (24,01%), “For a better
life – Boris Tadić” (22,07%) and “Ivica Dačić – SPS, PUPS, JS” (14,54%).
The second round of Serbian parliamentary election is going to take place on
20 May 2012. Both candidates, Tadić and Nikolić, are also leaders of their
respective parties, Boris Tadić is the president of the Democratic Party
(DS), Tomislav Nikolić is the president of the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS).
Despite the fact that Nikolić’s SNS won the election (24,01%), it probably
won’t be able to form the new government of the Republic of Serbia.
The presidential, parliamentary, provincial and local elections went by with
a notion of reasonable suspicion and serious accusations for election theft
and election irregularities. The allegations did not only come from Serbian
Progressive Party as the winner but also from other parties which withdrew
their allegations about the election irregularities due to the regime
pressures and thus silently accepted the election theft. A typical example
of this is a minority party called “the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians” (SVM),
led by Istvan Pasztor, who succumbed to the pressures of the regime
and voted for the adoption of the report of the election results at the
meeting of the Republican Electoral Commission (RIK) and thus allowed the
legalization of an unfair election and election fraud. Their vote was
crucial and decisive. Istvan Pasztor, the president of SVM, tried to justify
his move by explaining that they don’t want to destabilize the country and
want to preserve peace and stability by legalizing the elections.
In previous analyses the IFIMES International Institute pointed out that the
highest political circle in Serbia, symbolised by Boris Tadić, has shown
that its functioning resembles that of an organised criminal group in
several aspects. Tadić’s Democratic Party has been in power for the past 12
years, which represents an excessively long period of government for any
political party. Serbia's incumbent regime has not proven to be resistant to
organised crime and corruption, which is illustrated by numerous examples.
Some of those examples have been pointed out by the EU in the European
Parliament Resolution adopted on 29 March 2012. EP demanded Serbian
authorities to carry out investigation and review of dubious privatisation
processes in 24 companies. Investigations into above privatisation processes
which have already been carried out have shown that in most cases the key
role was played by Boris Tadić and some high officials from his Democratic
Party as well as Mlađan Dinkić, president of G17 Plus and leader of
the United Regions of Serbia (URS) coalition. The European Union has
expressed serious doubts concerning the legality of company privatisation
processes, including those of
market” and “ATP
demanded Serbian authorities to declassify immediately documents classified
as State Secret regarding the privatisation and sale of those companies,
which is contrary to European standards. A notable case was that of “Mobtel”
which was sold to the controversial Austrian businessman
and subsequently to Norwegian Telenor for EUR 1,513 billion. Should Tadić's
Democratic Party form the new government of Serbia again, the situation will
become absurd since the revision of dubious privatisations will be carried
out by the same government which carried out those privatisations.
The IFIMES International Institute is of the opinion that the revision of
dubious privatisation processes should be carried out by independent
international auditing firms at the request of the EU whereby appropriate
monitoring should be ensured.
IS TADIĆ CONNECTED TO THE INTERNATIONAL CRIME SCENE?
previous surveys and analyses
we highlighted the connections between Tadić’s regime and organized crime.
In addition to the above mentioned Tadić and Dinkić, the current Minister of
Internal Affairs and the president of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS)
was also found to be connected with crime or criminals. Dačić’s connections
with crime stem from the times of
rule in Serbia. Nevertheless, the alarming fact is that Dačić is a minister
responsible for the state's repressive authority which also fights organized
crime, while he may be the one who collaborated the most with criminals.
Dačić’s role in “the Šarić case” and drug trafficking is still
Dačić’s connection and collaboration with criminal structures is also
confirmed by his inclusion on the “black list” of the American
Administration and then his mysterious removal from this list, which raises
the question whether this removal from “the black list” by the US
authorities involves some corruptive elements?
Moreover, Dačić is one of the agents in the “Suitcase” affair, which also
involved the former vice-governor of the National Bank of Serbia (NBS)
and the SPS functionary
They were acquitted of all charges for bribery after pressuring the court.
The Superior Court in Belgrade acquitted them of all charges, despite the
fact that it was indisputably confirmed during the trial that a suitcase
with 100,000 Euro was found in Simić’s and Zagrađanin’s possession at the
moment of their arrest. Dejan Simić’s charge was that he, as the
vice-governor, demanded a bribe of 2 million Euros from the representative
of the Israeli “TBI Group”, so that he could permit operation to the
Export-Credit Bank. Simić was arrested on 11 January 2006 in his apartment,
together with the SPS functionary Vladimir Zagrađanin. The police found a
bag with 100,000 Euros in Simić’s apartment. That evening, Zagrađanin was
visiting Simić together with Ivica Dačić, but Ivica Dačić left the apartment
just some minutes before the police raided it.
Tadić’s connection with the organized crime is also illustrated by the visit
of the Norwegian Prime Minister
who visited Belgrade and expressed his support for Boris Tadić in the second
round of presidential election and also for the mobile operator Telenor,
owned by the Norwegian Telenor. Serbian Telenor was recently sold to the
Norwegians through dubious privatization of “Mobtel” and mediation by Martin
Schlaff, with Boris Tadić presiding over the steering committee of PE PTT
Communications “Serbia”, a co-owner of “Mobtel”, and being the Minister of
Telecommunications at the same time.
Boris Tadić led the Ministry of Telecommunications and presided the steering
committee of PE PTT Communications “Serbia” at the same time for a longer
period of time. PE PTT Communications “Serbia” shared the ownership of
Bogoljub Karić. The
role of president Tadić regarding the initiation of bankruptcy proceedings
from that period is not clear yet, nor are determining the amount of the
start-up capital, preparing the company for sale to the buyer connected to
his party (DS), the sponsorship ordered by Boris Tadić etc. The
investigating authorities have not yet heard or prosecuted Tadić regarding
The contract dated 4 April 2006, the day when “Mobtel’s” property was
illegally taken over by the newly established company “Mobi 63”, which was
then sold to Telenor and declared a state secret, was also controversial.
Why is a commercial contract called a state secret and for whose interests?
Where did 1.513 million Euros earned by selling “Mobtel” to the foreign
The role of Martin Schlaff and Austrian State Telecom in these affairs are
also being investigated in Austria, with Austrian Prosecutor's Office
conducting an investigation against Schlaff and other individuals who
participated in these affairs. Besides the Prosecution’s investigation, an
Investigating Commission of the Austrian Parliament has been formed in
September 2011, investigating the role of Martin Schlaff and the former
Hubert Gorbach who
participated in this affair, former Chancellor
and other individuals.
Right after the formation of the Investigating Commission Schüssel resigned
from the position of the MP in the Austrian Parliament.
It is obvious that we’re facing elements of an organized criminal group
here, which can be further proven by the involvement of the former European
Ferrero Waldner and
some other highly positioned EU functionaries in this affair, as well as
Serbian functionaries. Austrian investigation will inevitably lead to Serbia
and Boris Tadić, Mlađan Dinkić,
and others connected to Martin Schlaff.
MILOŠEVIĆ’S PEOPLE ARE THE MAIN SUPPORT FOR TADIĆ AND HIS DEMOCRATIC
depth of the crisis in the Serbian society is illustrated also by the
results of the parliamentary election, where Milošević’s SPS, led by Ivica
Dačić in the recent years, won the third place. Dačić is burdened by the
past, that is Milošević’s regime and crime. Had Serbia carried out
lustration, Dačić would have been permanently disqualified from performing
any public function, including those at the local level. However, Dačić and
SPS, thanks to Tadić and DS, are now deciding about the future of Serbia.
The firm cooperation between Tadić’s DS and Milošević’s SPS since 2008 has
taken away the purport of the democratic change in Serbia, which
symbolically began on 5 October 2000.
That’s why the current authorities are opposing the opening of classified
files which represent a stern test of political will to relieve secret
services from the burden of Slobodan Milošević's legacy .
However, Boris Tadić and his Democratic Party are once again looking for
support from Ivica Dačić and his SPS in order to maintain their power. Thus,
they want to form a new government with the support of Milošević’s SPS,
ensuring Tadić his third term of office at the presidential election.
One of the key problems in Serbia is the malfunctioning of the rule of law.
If the rule of law and its institutions operated efficiently, many problems
in Serbian society would not exist at all. There would be no retroactive tax
assessment resulting in enormous sums, which most companies cannot pay and
consequently have to declare bankruptcy. A systematic racketeering of
business people and companies is taking place. A known example is
who became an unwanted person and faced prosecution after he stopped paying
racket to Tadić's regime and especially to the Democratic Party. Why did the
Prosecution fail to react to Subotić’s allegations, when he publicly
admitted that he was paying rackets to Boris Tadić and to people close to
him. Why did the Prosecution fail to initiate proceedings in this case?
The IFIMES International Institute believes that if Boris Tadić wins, Serbia
will once again have the president who will not act in line with the
Constitution and life in Serbia will keep spinning in the vicious circle of
politics, Mafia and crime.
Ljubljana, 18 May 2012
International Institute for Middle-East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) -
Bakhtyar Aljaf Zijad Bećirović, M.Sc.