BY NANORE BARSOUMIAN
A U.S. Embassy cable from Baku, leaked by WikiLeaks, gives a report on Azerbaijan’s Heydarov family, “the second most powerful commercial family in Azerbaijan,” noting the lobby efforts of Tale Heydarov, head of the European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS), especially in regards to Nagorno-Karabakh.
According to the cable, the Heydarov family’s most powerful member is Kamaladdin Heydarov, who has been the head of the Ministry of Emergency Situations (MES)—otherwise known as “The Ministry of Everything Significant”—since 2006. “Observers have said he might be even more powerful than the President himself.”
“The Ministry now controls the fire departments and other emergency services, fire code inspections, state grain reserves, and construction licensing. This last area of responsibility (perhaps the most important for foreign entities operating in Azerbaijan) also covers building inspectors who can interfere with, delay, or stop any construction project they declare to be “unsafe.” In fact, MES staff have previously warned American and other foreign businessmen that their purview covers anything that is associated with temperature, pressure, or isotopes — categories broadly interpreted to include just about everything under the sun.”
Heydarov has two sons, Nijat and Tale. The cable states: “Heydarov’s son Tale is the President of the European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS), and has made rounds to U.S. embassies in European capitals from his London base. The “society” purports to be an independent advocacy group, but its talking points very much reflect the goals and objectives of the GOAJ [government of Azerbaijan]. In recent meetings, Tale and his cohorts have raised ‘Armenian aggression’ in Nagorno-Karabakh and ‘double standards’ of U.S. human rights and democracy reporting in the region, and complained about efforts of the U.S. Congress to provide humanitarian assistance within the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave.”
The cable was written in February 25, 2010, by Charge d’Affaires Don Lu, and was classified secret. It was released by WikiLeaks on December 6.
The complete cable can be read here.