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In U.S., Calls To Hold Energy-Rich Baku's Feet To The Fire Over Rights

A Eurasianet partner post from RFE/RL

WASHINGTON -- The United States should hold Azerbaijan accountable for its human rights record, even as the energy-rich country has come into renewed focus as a potential key player in weaning Europe off of Russian gas in the wake of the Ukraine crisis, U.S. officials say.

“I feel strongly that as we work closely with Azerbaijan on energy issues, we must also engage them just as forcefully on the declining human rights situation as part of our overall concern for energy security in the region,” U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, said in a statement to RFE/RL.

Since the Kremlin’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea territory in March, Western leaders have spoken of the need to mitigate Russia’s geopolitical leverage by reducing Europe’s dependence on Russian gas pumped to EU members through Ukraine.

Senior EU and U.S. officials -- including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry -- have publicly noted the critical role Azerbaijan could play in this strategy thanks to the Southern Gas Corridor, a planned network beginning near Baku and stretching through Turkey that could bypass Russia and send Caspian gas into southern Europe.

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A Eurasianet partner post from RFE/RL

In U.S., Calls To Hold Energy-Rich Baku's Feet To The Fire Over Rights

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