News, Oil & Gas

Controversial royal visit to Azerbaijan

Crown Prince Haakon is on Monday visiting Azerbaijan, at the head of a Norwegian delegation to the opening of the annual International Caspian Oil & Gas Exhibition. The Royal visit has been criticised.

Through Statoil, Norway has heavy oil interests in Azerbaijan.

Human rights organisations say it is wrong for the Norwegian Crown Prince to visit what they call “one of the most corrupt dictatorships in the world”.

However, prominent Azerbaijani newspaper editor and regime critic, Eynulla Fatullayev who was just released after he was imprisoned in 2007, says it is positive that Norway has oil interests in his homeland, and he looks forward to meeting the Crown Prince.

– I will make the Crown Prince aware of the human right situation in this country. At the same time I will thank Norway for having supported and defended the freedom of expression in this country through many difficult years, the prominent Azerbaijani newspaper editor says.

Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre has welcomed the release of Mr. Fatullayev:
“It was high time the prominent Azerbaijani newspaper editor Eynulla Fatullayev was released. This is very good news,” said Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre. “Mr Fatullayev has been imprisoned since 2007, and in 2010 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that he should be released.”

Azerbaijan has been heavily criticised for keeping Mr Fatullayev imprisoned and for failing to comply with the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights.

“I am very pleased that in pardoning Mr Fatullayev, Azerbaijan has taken an important step towards complying with the Court’s ruling. We have long been concerned about the human rights situation in Azerbaijan and have raised this issue on a number of occasions. We have also taken up Mr Fatullayev’s case,” said Mr Støre.

“I hope Mr Fatullayev’s release will be accompanied by similar progress in other cases, and that the situation as regards freedom of expression in the country will improve,” said Mr Støre.