Disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat was back in Baku, Azerbaijan – the setting of one of the major initial plot twists in his long fall from grace – for a repeat performance speaking at the Baku Global Forum this week.
Baku was where one of the most corruption-laden deals of the Muscat administration had been struck.
As prime minister, Muscat – accompanied by his then-chief of staff Keith Schembri and former energy minister Konrad Mizzi – in an unannounced visit in December 2014 met Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and signed a dubious ‘memorandum of understanding on energy cooperation’, the genesis of the rot behind the ElectroGas power station deal.
That agreement led to the government binding Malta to acquire its liquefied natural gas (LNG) for the new power station from SOCAR for 18 years.
And it was back to Baku again for Muscat this week, where he spoke at the 10th edition of the Baku Global Forum, the Nizami Ganjavi International Center’s annual flagship event.
It was Muscat’s second participation and follows his participation as prime minister in the third edition in 2015 when the now well-known machinations of the ElectroGas deal were in full swing.
Muscat had become a member of the Azerbaijani government-funded political think tank and lobby group, founded by Azerbaijani dictator Ilham Aliyev, in 2020 following his resignation from office over the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, which was in turn linked to the corruption revelations associated with the ElectroGas power station in which SOCAR is a shareholder and its LNG supply agreement.
This week was not Muscat’s first participation in the Baku Global Forum, which aims to put an internationally respectable face on the oil- and gas-rich nation with an extremely dubious human rights record.
Just a few months after signing the energy deal on the secret December 2014 trip to Baku with Mizzi and Schembri – which was only made known in Malta after it was reported in the Azerbaijani press – Muscat was back in Azerbaijan addressing the Baku Global Forum’s third edition in April 2015.
Questioned by reporters in March 2015 whether he would be accepting an invitation to speak at the event, Muscat had played coy, saying it was still too early to confirm whether he would be available to take up the invitation.
He gave a keynote address at the forum where he was only one of four then-current leaders present – along with Aliyev himself, Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov and Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev.
Quoted on Friday by an Azerbaijani news agency, Muscat said “the presence of reputable participants indicates how important and prestigious the forum is”.
Giving a positively glowing assessment, Muscat, who is facing fallout from the Vitals-Steward hospitals ruling back home, said, “This forum brings together leaders, heads of countries, and scientists who can contribute to solving global problems. They are looking for new ways and sharing their experience and opinions.
“At this year’s forum, I learned more about Azerbaijan’s chairmanship in the Non-Aligned Movement. I am sure that after Azerbaijan’s chairmanship, the importance of the Non-Aligned Movement has increased even more,” he added.
Muscat’s murky relationship with Azerbaijan can be traced back to 2007 when he was an MEP. It wasn’t, however, until Muscat’s election in 2013 that this cosy relationship became too close for comfort.
In 2017, it was reported members of the Azerbaijani president’s family held bank accounts with Pilatus Bank, a bank mired in controversy and connections to the Muscat administration that was later shut down for alleged money laundering.
Aliyev’s daughters were found to have transferred €14.9 million from their Pilatus bank account to the Dubai-based Palma Consulting DMCC across three separate transactions between September 2015 and March 2016.
The year before, in February 2014 – 10 months before Joseph Muscat’s under wraps trip to Baku – one of the daughters, Leyla Aliyeva, was hosted by Muscat’s wife, Michelle, at Girgenti Palace. Aliyeva runs the Heydar Aliyev Foundation – a charity organisation named after her grandfather, the former Azerbaijani president.
In practice, the centre aims to expand Azerbaijani culture and soft influence through lobbying efforts and ‘caviar diplomacy’. According to Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) filings in the US, it is mainly funded by the Azerbaijani government.
Time to collect some brown LNG-envelope(s)..
Mela serja din il konferenza. Kif jghid il malti bhal ma rajdek xebbahtek. Dawn jafu li kien ha it titlu ta l izjed prim ministru KORROT
Jafu,jafu imma korrotti bhalu !
Mar jigbor xi envelope ohxon ta xi ” Konsulenza”.
Hallina Joseph messek tisthi tohrog fit-triq !
Kull par għal paru. L-ebda istituzzjoni jew forum ta’ reputazzjoni tajba ma tistieden lill-hekk imsejjaħ “Prim Korrott” mill-President tal-għaqda Repubblika.
Mar ghal paga.
Hemmek mhux cash kienu jaghtu imma xi djamant li jiswa, li joqgod go xejn. Issa hemm il BitCoin , bl-espert li il gvern Malti kien gab , li issa imfittex mil FBI , jurihom kif juzaw il bitcoin u ma jinqabdux. Bit Coin Island of the Mediterranean. Admiral Muscat King of Pirates.
Is Muscat’s speech available?
Joey Egrant went to collect more dirty money from the money washing machine.It must be Joey made some work on the side for the corrupt Head of State.
The ‘Non-Aligned Movement’ and Muscat right in the middle with them. How the parallels between the past and the present always come up, even when dressed up in modern times style.
Like Mintoff, so Muscat, rather seeking the ‘odd friendships’ with autocrats or plain dictators, what ever floats the boat (or keeps the money coming in). Different times, different means but always being sometimes more and sometimes less ‘anti-Western’. The only real difference between the two characters is that Muscat is by far the most biggest Capitalist the PL has ever seen and ever had as its leader and thus Malta as PM.
It is no wonder why he is always turning to the same sort of people because decent and serious businesspeople wouldn’t do any business with Joseph Muscat. He’s left to keep his contacts and probably ‘contracts’ with those he has chosen in the past and that is what I call his prospect for the future. He’s either destined to remain with them, or doomed to, just a matter of perspective but in fact it’s all the same.
Joseph Muscat went to Baku to panic with SOCAR and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev because he is very worried and feeling ‘heavy chest pains’ about what can possibly happen from the secret meeting in December 2014 which involves ‘CRIMINAL FRAUD’.
Steward Health Care is leaving Malta and Socar is next in line. As a result of both exits, BOV is going to be fined heavily by European and US Law Enforcement causing it to go BUST by its role with Pilatus Bank who was involved in sanctions evasion violations against the Iranian regime.
“The presence of reputable participants indicates how important and prestigious the forum is”
You can say that over and over again, and even shout it from all the world’s rooftops if you like – but nobody, except Malta’s Gahans, will believe it!
Laqgha ma shabu il hallelin. Mela dak jaf jisthi. Tinsewx li lil puppet Abela hu jcaqlaqlu l ispaga.
Going for lessons in corruption?
To learn or to teach, you decide!
In light of the latest court sentence, one can´t really blame him, Baku could be a very good option, they would surely never extradite him!
Collecting hid dues?
Malta Mafia Corporate H Q situated in Egrant Avenue, Baku
Why is he still being allowed to travel, has this person not done enough damage?????
If this is the third time he has been invited, and in these annual forums the audience varies very little from year to year, it is obvious that the organisors are very limited in who to invite.
Barra l’istorja li kif qrajna wiehed jikkonsidra w ta’ min ifakkar li fl’elezjonijiet ir-ritratti ta dan il-bniedem korrott ikunu xi haga differenti min tal-llum. Wiccu qisu hawha b’ghajnejh blu tal hgieg. Irtokk ghal gahan l’illiterat.
Muscat said “the presence of reputable participants indicates how important and prestigious the forum is”.
Yes in the presence of the UNREPUTABLE participants indicates how birds of same feather flock together. ISTHI you ruined Malta’s image and that of the honest Maltese just FOR YOUR GREED. SHAME on you.
I hope you did not forget Leyla Aliyeva’s present from her friend mix mix. she owes her a lot.
What a legacy !!!