Human rights groups criticize EU over Azerbaijan gas deal, citing Baku’s “authoritarianism”

Human rights groups criticize EU over Azerbaijan gas deal, citing Baku’s “authoritarianism”
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Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have criticized the EU deal with Azerbaijan that is expected to double gas exports.

Human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, have criticized the European Union for a deal with Azerbaijan to double gas exports, amid efforts to lower the reliance on Russian natural gas.

“Azerbaijan authorities have been famous for cracking down on civil society activists investigating corruption, especially when it comes to oil and gas,” the Guardian newspaper cited Philippe Dam, Acting EU Director at Human Rights Watch.

“The EU should not say a country is reliable when it is restricting the activities of civil society groups and crushing political dissent,” Dam said.

Meanwhile Eve Geddie, the Director of Amnesty International’s Brussels office, said “Russia’s aggression against Ukraine serves as a reminder that repressive and unaccountable regimes are rarely reliable partners and that privileging short-term objectives at the expense of human rights is a recipe for disaster.”

Azerbaijan is “indeed a crucial energy partner for us and have always been reliable,” Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said on Monday, during a joint press conference with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Baku, following the signing of the gas deal that aims to more than double the energy supply from the Caucasian country.