Several human rights organizations has asked the Crown Prince of Norway, Haakon, to not go on an official visit to Azerbaijan, according to Vårt Land.
His Royal Highness is going to represent Norwegian business interests at the opening of the Baku Oil and Gas expo in June.
The human rights organizations have warned that the Crown Prince’s presence will be seen as an approval of the corrupt despotic regime.
His Royal Highness is a very popular representative for Norwegian business leaders, who are now seeking more business opportunities in Azerbaijan. Already Statoil is very strongly represented in this country, contributing billions of dollars to the Azerbaijani state coffers.
The human rights organizations have also argued that
President Alijev, who inherited the presidency from his father in 2003, has managed to cling on to power through massive corruption and manipulated elections, as well as harassment, arrest and use of violence against persons who are critical of the authorities.
• In recent months the authorities have tightened civic rights even more, in the wake of the massive protests in North Africa and the Middle East. Demonstrations are broken up and youth activists as well as political opponents have been arrested for their political campaigning, particularly through social media.
• Trials in these cases are ongoing and many of the accused risk many years prison. Even the defendants lawyers are targets for criminal investigation.
• At the same time as the right to peaceful protest has been banned , the authorities have closed down a number of meeting places since March this year, including the Human Rights House, which has received financial support from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
State Secretary at the said ministry, Espen Barth Eide, on the other hand says that His Royal Highness is traveling on behalf of the Norwegian government and that he will only represent the Norwegian delegation at the Oil and Gas Expo, and that this trip has been carefully considered.
The main purpose is to support Norwegian commercial interests. At the same time Norway is providing a valuable opportunity to promote important values such as transparency and consistency in the management of national resources so that these benefit all of the population.
So there we have it, money talks. Azerbaijan has no human rights and no democracy, but they do have oil. And we want to get a share of that oil, so gladly sacrifice our carefully constructed image as the humanitarian super power that cares about human rights.
In a week that Norway plans to ban tax deductions for certain donations to Israel, it would be nice if same standards are applied across the board and in particular to such nasty despots as the hapless inhabitants of Azerbaijan seem to be saddled with.
How very unbefitting of Norwegian ethical standards!