The Kapali Carsi

Open Letter to Ilham Aliyev

For a change, I am not writing about Turkey. I have an open letter to Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan:

Your Excellency;

I visited Azerbaijan for the first time last week to participate in a conference.

The presentations were great, and I learned a lot about the Azeri economy. But I was most impressed that almost all the Azeris began their speeches by paying respect to your father, “great leader” Heydar Aliyev- at least until the government officials left toward the end of the conference:)…

I was also fascinated by the infrastructure of Baku. It is a great idea to put a wall by the highway from the airport to the city center to block the shantytown there from view. No need to contaminate the landscape of oil executives, political dignitaries and Turkish economists visiting your nation’s capital for the first time. But I would like to offer you a few lessons from across the border, especially since Turks and Azeris are “one nation, two states”.

I liked the old town renovation project a lot. The whole area looks like a movie set from Anna Karenina and is bound to impress foreigners. It certainly impressed me, but many ordinary Azeris I talked to feel money is being wasted into such white elephants while a teacher makes $180 a month. Everyone loves the giant Azeri waving your nation’s flag as part of the light show on the Flame Towers, but you could maybe put more emphasis on “crazy projects” for decoy, as our own great leader is doing.

As the country with the most reporters in prison, we can also offer you some sound advice on dealing with dissident journalists. Why bother blackmailing with sex tapes, as was the case with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Khadija Ismayilova, when you can get them fired or thrown into jail Turkish style? I found out that Ismayilova was indeed arrested back in January, so it seems you are on the right path.

Speaking of Ismaliyova, I would like to congratulate you for receiving the Organized Crime and Corruption Person of the Year award. There was some tough competition, but Ismayilova gave you the edge with well-documented evidence that your family has ownership stakes in banks, a construction company, a gold mine and a mobile operator, among others. So you could maybe call truce now.

Of course, I am assuming you did want the prize. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have made your offshore companies so easily traceable. I am sure you noticed that there were no Turkish names accompanying yours and your daughters’ in the recent offshore accounts leak. Our leaders would be able to help you with that.


Emre Deliveli

Your friendly neighborhood economist

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