While it’s fashionable for the media and politicians to call for the resignation of a government representative at the slightest whiff of wrongdoing, in this case the person in question has done nothing discernibly improper. The charge against the government’s trade envoy, Prince Andrew? Amongst others, forging close ties with the government of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan’s government has been repeatedly accused of serious human rights violations, including suppression of opposition voices and torture. Yet for those who wish to see Azerbaijan pursue a policy of reform, political and economic engagement may be the most effective route.
Azerbaijan has thrived economically during the two decades since its independence from the Soviet Union. Indeed, thanks in part to sustained British engagement—British companies contribute 51 per cent of all energy industry investment—the country is fast becoming the success story of the region. Far from diminishing Britain’s ties with its country’s leaders and business community, or admonishing the prince for his diplomatic links, we should do the opposite: find ways to enhance and develop them further.