Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has rejected mounting Western criticism of his government’s poor human rights record as a smear campaign engineered by the worldwide “Armenian lobby.”
Aliyev lashed out at Western governments and human rights bodies as he chaired an emergency meeting of his government late on Monday.
“The Armenians of the world, the Armenian lobby have picked us as a target, and they have been joined by hypocritical and corrupt politicians sponsored by them,” he charged, according to the Trend news agency.
“This is especially true for Western politicians,” he said. “Congressmen, senators, deputies, Islamophobic politicians, and other elements, who have built their lives with Armenian money, have declared a war on Azerbaijan.”
Aliyev already described “the Armenian lobby” as his nation’s number one enemy when his regime faced growing international scrutiny of its human rights record ahead of a Eurovision song contest held in Baku three years ago. The Azerbaijani government has since further toughened its crackdown on dissent, jailing dozens of opposition members, civic activists and journalists.
Aliyev seemed on Monday particularly incensed by recent critical resolutions on Azerbaijan adopted by the German parliament, the Bundestag, and the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE).
The Bundestag resolution says the overall human rights situation in Azerbaijan has declined markedly since a 2013 presidential election and urges the German government to continue pushing for the swift and unconditional release of all political prisoners.
“Is the German Bundestag master of the world, ruler of the world, should everyone obey them? ... We don't want anything from them, while they, on the contrary, need our gas, contracts, oil and our activity in this region,” Aliyev said, according to the Reuters news agency.
He went on to condemn the “anti-Azerbaijani” PACE resolution. Its final text stated that "the assembly is aware of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict," instead of original wording that said "the assembly is aware of the occupation of Azerbaijani territories".