In tune with the ambitious anti-corruption campaign launched by Azeri president Ilham Aliyev last spring, more and more initiatives for transparency in the oil sector have appeared. Despite a lack of big scandals, some journalists have reported concrete corruption cases in which bribes did not come in the form of cash, but in bids and contracts
Thanks to its energy resources, Azerbaijan experienced for years one of the world’s highest GDP growth rates (+35% in 2006). A sovereign fund was established to manage these windfall revenues. International initiatives in favour of transparency keep an eye on the country’s main oil and gas company. Yet, opacity and corruption seem to be in the lead when oil wealth is spent rather than when it is accumulated
As a member of OSCE and the Council of Europe, Azerbaijan has made specific commitments to protect freedom of expression – but the current government does not always respect these obligations. International governmental and non-governmental organisations support several projects to improve freedom of expression, especially as regards the media. Yet, oil and gas make Baku increasingly resistant to criticism.