The EU has condemned an apparent threat to members of the European parliament by Azerbaijan’s ambassador to the EU, Vagif Sadigov.
Sadigov, who also serves as the country’s ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg, tweeted on 23 June in response to a visit by a delegation of MEPs to Armenia which travelled close to the border with Azerbaijan.
Sadigov posted an image and description of an Azerbaijani-produced sniper rifle with the following caption:
‘They know what they are doing to protect themselves. The Istiglal IST-14.5 anti-materiel sniper rifle produced in Azerbaijan has the effective firing range of about 3,000 m. Guys, keep clear of Azerbaijani state border…’
They know what they are doing to protect themselves. The Istiglal IST-14.5 anti-materiel sniper rifle produced in Azerbaijan has the effective firing range of about 3,000 m. Guys, keep clear of Azerbaijani state border... pic.twitter.com/k9isu9iQyo
— Vaqif Sadıqov (@VaqifS) June 22, 2023
An EU spokesperson told OC Media that they were aware of the tweet.
‘We condemn such behaviour which is totally unacceptable for an Ambassador accredited to the EU’, the spokesperson said.
Sadigov was posting in a thread replying to Armenian foreign ministry spokesperson Ani Badalyan, who tweeted about the visit by MEPs, quoting them as urging Azerbaijan to ‘withdraw immediately from all parts of [the] territory of Armenia & to respect its international legal obligations, [including] by ending [its] illegal blockade of [the Lachin Corridor]’.
His tweet came in direct response to another user named ‘Diana’ who had replied to Badalyan by saying: ‘bunch of idiots who didn’t even reached [sic] checkpoint, but took a photo 2 km away from it can go and shag each other👍’.
Sadigov also retweeted this tweet.
Nathalie Loiseau, an MEP who chairs the European Parliament’s Security and Defence Subcommittee and who led the delegation to Armenia, reacted angrily to Sadigov’s tweet on Monday.
‘Is this a threat towards Members of the European Parliament? Does it really come from an [Azerbaijani] «diplomat»? To what level has 🇦🇿 diplomacy fallen?’, she tweeted.
‘Disrespecting an ICJ decision and taking 120 000 human beings hostage, there is nothing to be proud of. Is it what makes you lose your nerves? We, Europeans with strong values, aren’t impressed. We will continue to support peace and respect for the people of Nagorno-Karabakh.’
Sadigov did not immediately respond to a request for comment. However, he appeared defiant on Wednesday, posting an image of a complaint against his tweet that was rejected by Twitter. ‘Another fake complaint is rejected. Thank you, Twitter!’, he wrote.
Arif Shahmarli, who served as Azerbaijan’s ambassador to the EU from 2000–2007, and to the Council of Europe from 2006–2012, also condemned Sadigov’s actions.
‘It is ridiculous and unacceptable for an educated and experienced diplomat like Vagif Sadigov to write such a tweet, it is a pity’, Shahmarli told OC Media.
‘Personally, I regret this kind of behaviour, because these kinds of steps will not bring good things to Azerbaijan. On the contrary, it is an action that will be used against Azerbaijan at a time when peace negotiations are ongoing.’
Shahmarli said he had worked with Sadigov during his time at the foreign ministry and even considered him a friend, describing him as a ‘very experienced diplomat’.
He linked the post to the increasingly antagonistic rhetoric used by President Ilham Aliyev.
‘The fact that he uses the Azerbaijan-made İSTIGLAL sniper rifle in his rhetoric on Twitter is similar to President Aliyev’s rhetoric, in my opinion’, Shahmarli said. ‘Maybe this was an ordered post.’
‘It seems that Azerbaijani diplomats have already switched to harsh rhetoric’, he added.
The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry was not immediately available for comment.
Additional reporting by Ismi Aghayev.