Reactions to Hillary’s Visit
Analysis of the Hillary visit has been fairly slim. Maybe you’ll have better luck skimming news articles than I. A few things have trickled in, however. First, the New York Times offers this restrained report on poor Azerbaijan-American relations:
Mrs. Clinton faced particularly raw feelings in Azerbaijan, which felt snubbed after the United States ambassador’s position was left unfilled for almost a year, and again when it was not invited to an April nuclear security summit meeting in Washington. The administration has responded with rapt attention: in June, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates traveled to Baku with a personal letter to President Ilham H. Aliyev from Mr. Obama.
Fairly basic. Not even a reaction, really. But yes, relationships have been strained here. Today.Az offers this sunny view of the United States’ intentions here:
United States is interested in security and prosperity of the region, and together with Azerbaijan is working on global issues – the fight against extremism, ensuring stable energy supplies, etc.
Sure, the US is working on security, probably their own (think of the war in Afghanistan). Prosperity? I don’t think American officials are losing sleep because their Azeri brothers have sky-high unemployment rates and health services are incredibly bad here.
Probably the most disheartening report comes from the Boston Globe:
Clinton followed up yesterday, telling Aliyev she was “very committed to our relationship.’’ She treaded gingerly on the democracy issue, saying she hoped to see more progress, and did not meet with opposition politicians as she had done on other stops on her trip.
Asked at a news conference about the human-rights situation, she said, “We’ve seen a lot of progress in Azerbaijan in the last 18 years’’ since it split from the Soviet Union.
That prompted an Azerbaijani journalist to ask Clinton: What progress? Clinton cited business and energy reform.
Business and energy reform? To say she treaded ‘gingerly on the democracy issue’ is putting it gingerly. If anything, it’s fair to say that whatever ‘human rights’ issues Azerbaijan has tackled in ‘business and energy reform’ are steeply overshadowed by the civil society, electoral, and media freedoms that are trampled on repeatedly.