How and to what extent does Baku “buy” Germany politicians?

There is a serious corruption scandal in the German Bundestag. Apparently, several German politicians tried to gain personal benefit from their ties with the Azerbaijani authorities. In this regard, the German prosecutor’s Office focused primarily on two members of the ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party: Axel Fischer and Mark Hauptmann, DW reports.

In early March, Fischer’s office in the Bundestag as well as his home was searched as part of an anti-corruption investigation into allegations that a politician may have received money from Azerbaijan while working for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

As for Mark Hauptmann, he is accused of earning 16,000 euros from his Sudthuringen Kurier newspaper for touring Azerbaijan and advertising pomegranate juice from Azerbaijani fruits. The advertisement was accompanied by editorial materials on similar topics. Hauptmann denies that the publication of these statements had any effect on his political position. However, on March 11, the Christian Democrat, who is accused in Germany of not only Azerbaijani but also so-called “mask fraud,” resigned from the parliament.

Hauptmann and Fischer’s party member Thomas Bareiss is also accused of corruption with Azerbaijan. According to a study by the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND) group, on March 12, Bareiss has been accused that immediately after the outbreak of the coronavirus, the politician managed to get Lowenstein Medical, a German medical equipment manufacturer, to provide preferential supplies of medical equipment to Azerbaijan.

The journalists found out that in January 2019, Bareiss visited Baku as part of an economic delegation and was invited to a reception with President Ilham Aliyev. The MP claims that he did not put pressure on the German company, and his support for Azerbaijan is explained solely by the intention to provide “humanitarian aid.”

At the same time, Axel Fischer, Mark Hauptmann, and Thomas Bareiss are not the only ones involved in the “Azerbaijani fraud” in the ranks of the CDU. According to a report titled “Caviar Diplomacy” published by independent analysts in 2017, Azerbaijan has long been trying to influence PACE deputies.

The document states that Baku was involved in bribing the rapporteurs of the PACE Monitoring Committee, who monitored the fulfillment of the commitments undertaken by Azerbaijan during its accession to the Council of Europe. A variety of gifts were used as bribes, including black caviar, carpets, expensive alcoholic beverages, and jewelry.