On 27 September, ESI's Gerald Knaus gave a presentation at the Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation in Stockholm.
For over a decade, authoritarian governments have tried to capture Europe's oldest human rights institution, the Council of Europe, through bribes and KGB-tactics. The aim has been to neutralize the international human rights movement's strategy of "naming and shaming" those who falsifies elections and violates basic human rights.
This trend reached its peak when the President of the Council's Parliamentary Assembly earlier this year flew into Damascus on a Russian jet, as part of a delegation led by a leading member of Russia's far-right party. Their agenda included a meeting with president Bashar al-Assad and took place two weeks before a sarin gas attack in Syria's Idlib provice.
A coalition of politicians, prosecutors, journalists and civil society actors are now fighting back and an unprecedented independent investigation has been launched to look into the corruption.
Gerald Knaus, Chairman of the European Stability Initiative, and Tobias Billström, Deputy Chairman of the Swedish Delegation to the Council of Europe, presented the current state of affairs in the Council of Europe and the struggle for a solid human rights regime in Europe.
- ESI on caviar diplomacy: www.esiweb.org/caviardiplomacy
- Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP): The Azerbaijani Laundromat
- Deutsche Welle, Chase Winter, "Dreck im 'aserbaidschanischen Waschsalon'" ("Dirt in the 'Azerbaijani laundromat'") (7 September 2017)
- The Guardian, Jennifer Rankin, "Azerbaijan revelations spark 'great concern' at Council of Europe" (5 September 2017)
- BBC, "Azerbaijan 'operated secret $3bn secret slush fund'" (5 September 2017)
- Süddeutsche Zeitung, "Von Kaviar und verkauften Seelen" ("Of caviar and souls sold") (4 September 2017)
- Le Monde, "« Diplomatie du caviar » : comment l'Azerbaïdjan s'offre l'amitié de responsables politiques européens" ("'Caviar Diplomacy': how Azerbaijan bought the friendship of European politicians") (4 September 2017)