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"I have not seen a worse situation than now," Ambassador Kauzlarich spoke on political situation in Azerbaijan ahead of a Washington convention

Richard D. Kauzlarich, a veteran American diplomat (ret) and analyst, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and US Ambassador to Baku (1994-1997), spoke up on the latest harassment of a journalist, political activists in Azerbaijan, at a time when dozens of US diplomats, Congress people and officials are preparing to attend the April 29-30 "Vision for the Future" convention in Washington DC, a PR event that many see as an "oil-smoking", which is sponsored by SOCAR, and Practical Solutions Group LLC, a Princeton-based advocacy organization.

"I have been engaged in US relations with Azerbaijan since 1992 and I have not seen a worse situation than the situation that currently exists [in Azerbaijan]," Amb. Kauzlarich, who currently serves as a Deputy Director of Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center at the George Mason University's School of Public Policy, told TURAN's Washington, DC correspondent.

"For the regime to attack the US Minsk Group Co-chair Ambassador [James] Warlick and accuse Congressional staffers of being "spies", at the same time it is funding a meeting of the US Azerbaijan Convention that will occur in Washington April 29-30 to support a US-Azerbaijan strategic relationship with members of the US Congress apparently playing a key role reflects a belief that thinking people cannot see what is really going on in Azerbaijan today," he emphasized.

Most recently, Azerbaijan's jailing of a prominent independent journalist after his summary forcible return from Turkey raised concern among human rights groups all around the world.

For Amb.Kauzlarich, the arrest of RaufMirgadirov is "only the latest in a downward spiral of [Ilham] Aliyev regime actions directed at suppressing political dissent, media freedom and any attempt to engage in track II efforts to develop positive contacts between Armenians and Azerbaijanis."

"The regime is terrified not of Russia or Iran but its own citizens: They have even taken steps to pressure foreign hotels in Baku to cancel events involving NGOs the regime oppose," he said, describing it as "another sign that the regime does not care about foreign reaction to its growing oppression of Azerbaijani citizens."

According to the official website of US-Azerbaijani Convention 6 key US senators and a deputy assistant secretary of state for energy diplomacy will speak at a special session on "Eurasian Energy Corridor and Energy Security: Azerbaijan's Strategic Role," moderated by a New Mexico legislator Nora Espinoza, while 20 other Congress members are lined up to attend the congressional breakfast to discuss the "US - Azerbaijan Strategic Partnership and Cooperation in Caspian Basin."

US Ambassador to Azerbaijan Richard Morningstar and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Evelyn Farkas, will speak at the panel "Azerbaijan: Trusted Friend at the Critical Global Crossroads" along with several American scholars and an Azeri MP.

None of the sessions of the convention are dedicated to discuss the political situation in the country.

Meanwhile, the event comes at the time the Azeri embassy hired former Massachusetts Rep. Bill Delahunt for strategy, communications and legislative outreach work, to hold "internal meetings with client and foreign principal, will assist with strategizing and discerning appropriate U.S. government-relations strategy, and communicate with US officials and possibly US media."

"It's the second hire this month for Azerbaijan - which has been on something of a US public relations kick in the last few years. The nonprofit Assembly of the Friends of Azerbaijan also hired APCO Worldwide earlier this month for communications work," according to a Politico article.


Washington, DC



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