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Azerbaijan: Playing the Armenian card

This post is part of our special coverage Caucasus Conflict Voices.

As Azerbaijan prepares for parliamentary elections on 7 November, opposition bloggers are unhappy with the conduct of the vote so far. This week, for example, concerns were raised regarding the registration of opposition candidates, and now the local media is starting to publish what critics of the government consider to be black propaganda aimed at discrediting them in the eyes of the electorate.

And, as the conflict with Armenia over the disputed territory of Nagorno Karabakh remains unresolved, some bloggers say that there are a few very simple ways to achieve this. In Mutatione Fortitudo, for example, details how to build what it calls a smear campaign.

Now, just a month left to the election, another smear campaign seems to unfold. In short, Ali Karimli is accused of bargaining with foreign powers – if they support him in the upcoming election, he is ready for every concession in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

But how to prove this and how to make people believe it?

[…]

First, you order “The 525th Newspaper” to publish an initial article, where the whole conspiracy is explained – Ali Kerimli will sell Karabakh if “foreign powers” will bring him to power.

[…]

Second, Russian-language news website 1news.az publishes an article based on and citing original material in 525 where they repeat the same allegation – Ali Karimli will sell (if not already sold) Karabakh in exchange for power.

[…]

Third, Armenian media outlets pick up the news and report – Azeri opposition leader is ready to any concession in Karabakh issue, reports Azeri media. PanArmenian for example, cites both 525th and 1news.az.

[…]

This part of the job is over. Now it is time to inform Azeri people of this evil conspiracy – and finally, Azeri TVs and other media step in: “Armenian media reports that Ali Karimli has pledged to western circles that he is ready to any concession in Karabakh issue in exchange for support in the upcoming election.”

The Önər Blog [AZ] also comments.

Azərbaycanın analoqu olmayan iqtidarı var. Bu insanlar güya parlament seçkilərinə hazırlaşır. Kampaniyalarının da məzmunu təxminən bundan ibarətdir ki, “biz pisik bəli, lakin müxalifət də pisdi, onlar gəlsə yenə də pis olacaq”. Ağılları bundan o tərəfinə çatmır. Çünki ağılsızdılar. Absurd içində yaşamağa öyrəşiblər. […]

[…]

Çox gözəl aydındır ki, bu Əli Kərimliyə və müxalifətə qarşı növbəti qara pr kampaniyasının başlanğıcıdı. Bundan sonra daha pis şeylər gözləmək olar. İsa Qəmbəri mason, Əli Kərimlini erməni agenti çıxaracaqlar. Belə də davam edəcək. Bundan qətiyyən narahat olmağa dəyməz. Bunlar şərəfli mübarizə nədir onu başa düşməyiblər. […]

Azerbaijan has a government with no comparison. As if these people are getting ready for elections. The idea of the campaign roughly entails “we are bad, yes, but the opposition is also bad, and if they come, it will be bad again.” Their minds can't see further than that. Because they are brainless. They are used to living in absurdity. […]

[…]

It is quite clear that it is start of another black pr campaign against Ali Karimli and opposition. One can expect worse things after that. Isa Gambar will be announced a mason, Ali Karimli an Armenian agent. It will continue like this. No need to be worried about it at all. They do not realize what a dignified fight is. […]

Some opposition supporters and activists also tweeted and updated their status lines on Facebook with comments suggesting a conspiracy against the opposition in Azerbaijan waged by both the local and Armenian media. However, few media outlets across the border covered the story, and those that did have long been known for republishing stories from elsewhere without first checking facts.

Nevertheless, while there is nothing to indicate whether allegations of purposeful complicity and collusion between the media in both countries occurred, the potential damage of such claims by the pro-government media against the opposition is very real indeed. However, some such as aligenjevi [AZ] at least noted the irony in a comment left on the Azerbaijani version of the first blog quoted in this post.

Xatirimdədir, Ermənistanda prezident seçkiləri olanda koçaryan-sarkisyan komandasının Ter-Petrosyana qarşı istifadə etdikləri arqumentlərdən biri, sonuncunun Azərbaycan mediası, azərbaycan cəmiyyəti tərəfindən arzuolunan olması idi.

Yəqin indi ermənilər bizimkilərə borcu qaytarırlar :)

I remember when presidential elections were being held in Armenia. One of the arguments used by the [government] Kocharyan-Sarkisyan team against [opposition leader] Ter-Petrosyan was that the latter was considered a desirable person by the media and society in Azerbaijan.

Seems like Armenians pay their debts. :)

Unfortunately, however, playing the Nagorno Karabakh card in both countries has become a common feature of all elections since independence. And if recent votes in Armenia, as well as the imminent election in Azerbaijan, are anything to go by, the sensitivities surrounding the conflict on both sides seems to indicate that this will continue for the foreseeable future.

This post is part of our special coverage Caucasus Conflict Voices.

3 comments

  • All the above said, some interesting news of actual cooperation between Armenian and Azerbaijani opposition parties:

    On Oct. 7, in the German city of Potsdam, a memorandum of cooperation was signed among three liberal political parties in the South Caucasus: the Pan-Armenian National Movement (Armenia), Musavat (Equality) Party (Azerbaijan) and the Republican Party of Georgia (Georgia).

    […]

    “The document has gone through many years of a preparatory phase; at least 8 years of cooperation. We meet with the Azerbaijani, [and] Georgian liberals, we work together: events, seminars, discussions, meetings with youth organizations, and there’s always been the issue that we have agreements on joint principles and for those to be written. In Potsdam, we managed to achieve that,” he said.

    […]

    “Three alternative South Caucasus political parties… if tomorrow there’s a regime change, here [in Armenia], HAK will come, in Azerbaijan, Musavat will come, [and] in Georgia, the Republican [Party]. That is, these three parties are serious political units in the South Caucasus and they had the courage to place a bid to take on responsibility that it’s on this path that the peoples of the South Caucasus must go. That is European integration, joint communication, [and] the peaceful resolution of conflicts,” he said.

    Aram Manukyan added that the Pan-Armenian National Movement’s aim is the country’s peace, prosperity, as well as peaceful coexistence in the region, people working together in the name of peace and development in the South Caucasus.

    http://www.epress.am/FNew.aspx?nid=5938

  • […] the parliamentary election played out as expected, with anti-Armenian propaganda used against some candidates, and allegations of unlawful harassment and other electoral code violations before election day […]

  • […] the apparent intention to discredit them in the eyes of the public remains and was also used against opposition candidates ahead of parliamentary elections held in Azerbaijan last November. Now, on a blog by an activist […]

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