BRUSSELS, January 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
The Armenian diaspora and their lobbying efforts worldwide have successfully protected Armenia's interests in the international arena to the detriment of Azerbaijan, concludes a report issued by the Brussels-based think tank European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center (ESISC).
The recognition of the Armenian genocide by more than twenty states, the Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act (a U.S. law that bans Azerbaijan from U.S. aid) and the campaigns against the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the Southern Gas Corridor meant to reduce Europe's dependence on energy supplies from Russia, are only some of the most evident examples, say analysts at the ESISC.
Propaganda campaigns have been carried out in order to depict Azerbaijan as a pariah state in Europe, while at the same time promoting the image of Armenia as a well consolidated democracy. "The truth, as often happens, stands in the middle," states the study.
"Armenia has been using pressure groups in order to influence the political agenda in the USA and Europe toward Yerevan's interests," the report declares. "In this public affairs field, Armenia has been better-off in promoting itself and putting Azerbaijan in a bad light. Isolating Baku from international assistance and depicting it as a rogue state are some of the activities carried out by Armenian lobbies worldwide."
According to the report, since its independence, Baku has had to struggle for its territorial integrity, against poverty and the risk of domestic terrorism. In this regard, the Armenian lobby has contributed to isolate the country from international assistance, hence slowing down the process for the building of a stronger civil society and a more democratic form of government.
Some of these contingencies are still in place, since Armenia occupies around 20% of Azerbaijan's territories such as Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding districts as a result of an armed aggression by separatist Armenian paramilitary groups in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.
However, Baku has turned out successful in coping with other contingences such as poverty and terrorism, says the report. In fact, according to the World Bank, Azerbaijan has been able to reduce poverty from 50% to 7.6 % in the period 2001-2011, with a drop in unemployment to 4.2 % and the implementation of social welfare reforms contributing to such decline.
The report argues that similar successes were obtained through reforms to fight Islamic extremism, which arose following the independence because of widespread poverty, low level of education and rampant corruption. In its annual Country Report on Terrorism, the U.S. Department of State mentioned that Baku has been very effective in contrasting terrorists' activities in money laundering, financing and transfer of other materials.
Of course, Azerbaijan still needs to improve its civil and human rights record. For this purpose, ESISC recommends that Baku strengthens its cooperation with western states and institutions like the United States, the European Union and the Council of Europe. At the same time, it is essential that such actors decide to strongly engage Azerbaijan's issues in a less biased and a more constructive way.
SOURCE European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center (ESISC)