Trump Organization’s Plan to Scrap Baku Hotel May Upset Azerbaijan

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Former U.S. Ambassador to Baku: ‘The Azeri Government Would See This Business as an Advantageous Project to Go Forward and Have an Even Bigger Trump Sign in the Middle of Baku as s Signal that the U.S. and Azerbaijan are Close’

NEW YORK (A.W.)—The Trump Organization announced on Dec. 15, the termination of three overseas deals, including a licensing deal for a Trump Hotel in Baku, Azerbaijan. Alan Garten, a Trump Organization attorney, called the move “housecleaning,” while speaking to CNN following the announcement.

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The company announced that in addition to the termination of the Baku deal, the Trump Organizations has also terminated its business licensing deals in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for a hotel project and a five-building office complex.

The announcement came just a day after activists—led by Freedom Now and other human rights organizations—gathered in front of the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., to highlight the continued repression of civil society and independent voices in Azerbaijan. The organizations assembled on the occasion of a Hanukkah party co-hosted by the Embassy of Azerbaijan and Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations to celebrate “religious freedom and diversity.”

“An official close to Trump’s business partner in Baku said this week that the project is two-thirds finished and would open soon, while a security guard at the tower said it probably will be ready by February. Trump continued to receive money from the branding deal—nearly $3 million since mid-2014, according to his financial disclosures—though the project disappeared from his website last year,” reported Bloomberg News senior writer Stephanie Baker.

According to Baker’s report, a central issue in Azerbaijan was Trump’s partners. “Trump’s initial deal there, signed in 2012 and announced in 2014, was with Anar Mammadov, the 35-year-old founder of Garant Holding, with more than 30 companies in construction, transportation and telecommunications. Mammadov is the son of Azerbaijan’s transportation minister, Ziya Mammadov, a close ally of President Ilham Aliyev, who has ruled since he took over from his father in 2003. Trump’s recent fees came from a company set up by Ziya’s brother, Elton Mammadov, a member of parliament until last year,” read a part of the report.

Richard Kauzlarich, former U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan and currently an adjunct professor at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, told Bloomberg News that there was concern the Aliyev government would try to win Trump over, by helping finance the completion of Trump Tower in Baku.

“The Azeri government would see this business as an advantageous project to go forward and have an even bigger Trump sign in the middle of Baku as a signal that the U.S. and Azerbaijan are close,’’ Kauzlarich told Bloomberg. “They would see that financing chain as one more example of an easy way to expand Azerbaijani influence with an incoming Trump administration.”


Source: Armenian Weekly
Link: Trump Organization’s Plan to Scrap Baku Hotel May Upset Azerbaijan