Elkhan Suleymanov, member of Azerbaijan Parliament has addressed a letter to the U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Harry Reid, SIA reports.
The letter says:
“In March of this year, I read an article in Roll Call by Congressman Silvestre Reyes, a former Congressman who has made multiple trips to Azerbaijan, most recently serving as an election monitor in 2013. (Please see: http://blogs.rollcall.com/beltway-insiders/azerbaijan-must-remain-a-strong-ally-of-the-united-states/?dcz=) Congressman Reyes has taken the time to study our country and learn a lot about us. We have great respect for him, and his March article describing the importance of Azeri support for the United States is right on point.
Then, in mid-July, my government received a different kind of letter, signed by 16 Senators and focused on complaints from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). Very few of these Senators have visited Azerbaijan and we don’t recognize the signature of any one of them who has made relationships with us a priority. We would be pleased to have any of them come and spend some time with us in Azerbaijan, getting to know us, our culture, and our history, and the various ways we can partner and work together. You will remember the importance of our relationships in establishing the BTC pipeline which serves Israel and Europe, today. There are more opportunities to partner to mutual advantage.
Let me address, if I might, the primary complaint of RFE/RL as expressed in the Senators’ letter. They complain that they are not “Free and Independent” in our environment. Our impression is that they are not Free and Independent at all because they are funded with American government funds, directed at specific “missions,” under the management of the International Broadcasting Operations of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, an American Government Agency receiving about $734,000,000 annually. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty was established during the Cold War to be an American propaganda arm broadcasting American government sponsored messages to many parts of the world with the purpose of weakening target governments. It is our impression that RFE/RL has not changed, and today, it remains focused on weakening governments chosen by the United States.It is funded only by the American government. We would be happy to discuss this with you.
It also seems appropriate to express our concern at some Report Language which has appeared at the Committee level in your FY16 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill in July. The language instructs the U.S. Department of State to interfere directly in the governmental processes in my country, and to report back to the Senate on the results. We find this to be astounding, and very reminiscent of the Cold War. I ask you to consider and rethink carefully what you are doing. We respect and value our relationship with the United States and we hope that it might move forward in a positive direction.
In conclusion, we are very proud of the progress we have made as a nation, independent and democratic, since 1991. We are a donor nation. We are an active and positive member of many international organizations which move civil society forward. We are enthusiastic at the prospect of working positively with you”.