It has been better known for its great parties and for its Gucci dressed leaders, so the sight of members of IRELI demonstrating on the streets of Baku to protest at the recent decision of the French senate criminalising the Armenian genocide is a good indicator of feelings in Azerbaijan on this issue.
IRELI is a youth organisation that was founded soon after Ilham Aliev took over as president of Azerbaijan, and has close connections with the presidential administration. In some ways it is modelled on a similar organisation in Russia - "NASHI" in that it sees itself as a focal point for youth support for the president, but offers a space for those not wanting to get involved in party politics. Here however the comparisons end. NASHI has been in the past on the front line of pro Kremlin manifestations, providing the shock troops for many controversial events. IRELI has been much more genteel in its approach. But it seems things are changing.
Speaking to the media before the protest in front of the French Embassy, the Chairman of IRELI, Ceyhun Osmanli, who is also a member of parliament said that Azerbaijani youth don't want to see France as a co-chair country of the OSCE Minsk Group. He questioned the French company ‘Total' ownership of shares in the oil and gas fields of Azerbaijan. "We think expedient to review this issue within the international legislation", he said. Osmanli also proposed a boycott of French goods and said that the will not be using the services of French airlines anymore.
IRELI's protest can be dismissed as insignificant, yet of the many protests held in front of the French Embassy in Baku over the last couple of days, the appearance of IRELI may well be the most indicative of Baku's irritation with French policies.
source: commonspace.eu with news.az
photo: The protest of IRELI in front of the French Embassy in Baku on 24 January 2012 (photo courtesy of news.az)