Editor’s Note: The following is a letter by California Congresswoman Anna Eshoo–published in the Wednesday–July 30– edition of The Washington Post–in response to a letter by Azeri Ambassador Hafiz Pashayev. Azeri Ambassador Hafiz Pashayev’s letter explaining the political reasons for closer U.S. relations with his nation ["Azerbaijan’s Oil," Free for All–July 12] is a weak attempt to whitewash this fundamental truth: If one wants to understand why powerful interests in the United States have a sudden interest in Azerbaijan–follow the money.
There is certainly no affinity between American democracy and the Azeri political system. The current government in Baku came to power in a coup fouryears ago and has not held truly democratic elections since. A series of unstable Azeri governmen’s historically have abused minority rights within that country and Nagorno-Karabakh–a region with a majority Armenian population that was given to Azerbaijan when Stalin ruled the Soviet Union. Further–Azerbaijan has maintained an economic blockade of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh in clear violation of American and international law.
The vast political void between the American and Azeri systems is being filled by economic interests. Azerbaijan has drawn the attention of heavy foreign policy hitters in the United States not because of what’s on the surface of that country–but because of what’s underneath it–$4 trillion in oil waiting to be exploited as soon as a way can be established to get it to the West. That kind of money still buys a lot of favorable policy analysis–moral indignation–friends and influence in Washington–D.C.
Anna G. Eshoo
US Representative (D-Calif.))