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#1 Yervant1


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Posted 25 January 2016 - 10:47 AM


11:45, 25 Jan 2016
Siranush Ghazanchyan

The Australian newspaper's Weekend edition has reported on Azerbaijan's
efforts to gain a "diplomatic edge" over Armenia and the Armenian
National Committee of Australia by treating "Federal politicians and
their wives ... to expenses-paid, business-class trips to Azerbaijan."

Furthermore, in the article titled 'War of words over shuttle
diplomacy in Azerbaijan', Azerbaijan's Ambassador to Australia,
Rovshan Jamshidov has admitted that gaining Australia's firm backing
in the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute was "one of the main reasons" for
opening a Canberra Embassy in 2013.

The article also quotes recent visitors to Azerbaijan as part of its
government's 'shuttle diplomacy', Federal MPs Luke Simpkins and Alan
Griffin - the Chair and Vice-Chair of the recently-formed Australia
Azerbaijan Parliamentary Friendship Group.

Simpkins came under fire by the Armenian National Committee of
Australia (ANC Australia) recently, when he rose in Australia's
Parliament to condemn the self-determined Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh
as "illegally seized" territory belonging to the Aliyev dictatorship
of Azerbaijan. This statement was delivered as a Constituency
Statement, when The Australian confirms there are only four Azeri-born
constituents in Simpkins's electorate of Cowan.

The Australian quotes ANC Australia Executive Administrator, Arin
Markarian on this point: "Simpkins ... is wined and dined in Baku, and
all of a sudden develops an intimate knowledge of Caucasus geopolitics
-- intimate enough to take a hardline anti-Armenian view ... without
once visiting Nagorno-Karabakh or Armenia to talk to the other side."

Markarian added: "You can forgive Armenian-Australians for thinking
something smells fishy about Simpkins."

In MP fiduciary reports obtained by ANC Australia, it is confirmed all
entertainment and accommodation expenses on these trips are covered by
"the government of Azerbaijan".

Markarian commended The Australian on shining a light on this
"questionable" form of diplomacy exercised by Azerbaijan.

"We have tried to ask these questions to Mr. Simpkins, but he has
avoided us. He couldn't avoid The Australian, but yet, he still
wasn't able to answer the questions raised by its reporters and the
Australian public," said Markarian.

Markarian added: "A Parliamentarian from Western Australia, which
hardly has any Azeri population, is invited to Azerbaijan. His
fiduciary report of the trip reveals his on-ground expenses, including
accommodation and meals, were all paid for by the 'Parliament of
Azerbaijan', which in itself is a funny concept in a dictatorship
ruled by the same family since Soviet time."

"Then Simpkins returns to Australia and speaks in Parliament about the
'illegal occupation' by 'aggressor Armenians' of Nagorno-Karabakh."

"The Armenian National Committee of Australia and the Armenian
community of Australia finds it preposterous that the native people
of a land, who have exercised their rights to self-determination
after years of abuse faced by a foreign dictatorship, are now called
'illegal occupants' of their native land... by an Australian politician
who is only interested in meeting representatives of the Azerbaijani
side of this conflict after a sojourn to Baku."



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