The new Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, Jeyhun Bayramov, has no diplomatic experience. He is known for working in a law firm and, in a move that was unexpected for most of the country’s residents and experts, ended up being appointed to this position on July 16, 2020.
His appointment was announced almost at the exact same time as the unexpected dismissal of Elmar Mammadyarov, who served as foreign minister for 15 years and was considered an influential figure in the country.
The dismissal was preceded by an angry statement by President Ilham Aliyev that on July 12, during the fighting on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, everyone was at work except for the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The new minister, Jeyhun Bayramov, has two higher educational degrees—he is both a lawyer and an economist. For the last two years, he has worked as the Minister of Education, from April 23, 2018.
Radio Azadliq reports that Jeyhun Bayramov is better known not as the Minister of Education, but as the head of the OMNİ law firm, where he served as director before going into the government.
Economist Togrul Mashalli told JAMnews that in 2019, OMNİ sought an international legal assessment of the illegal mining of non-ferrous metals in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan [Karabakh and seven adjacent regions that are under the control of the authorities of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic after the war in the early 1990s – JAMnews].
For conducting this campaign OMNİ received 195,500 manats [about $115,000] from the customer, Azərqold OJSC, says Mashalli.
Political observer Shahin Hajiyev said in an interview with JAMnews:
“The appointment of a foreign minister who has worked a single day as a diplomat raises questions.
The main job of the ministry is to conduct the Karabakh negotiations. How realistic it is for a person who does not have any information, who does not know the nuts and bolts of the situation, to participate in this process, I cannot say.”
The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry has been at the center of scandalous events since the beginning of summer 2020.
In June, several Azerbaijani media sources reported that the family of then Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov owned expensive property in the United States.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs then appealed to the State Security Service with a proposal to “investigate the smear campaign against Elmar Mammadyarov.”
In July 2020, several high-ranking Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials were arrested for bribery.