The Norwegian documentary film maker Erling Borgen´s, right, latest output, ´In the shadow of Statoil,´ is receiving very positive reviews at the ongoing Norwegian Film Festival in Haugesund. The film features footage brought to Borgen from contacts within the HRH Network from the crackdown of the demonstrations following the rigged 2003 elections in Azerbaijan. HRH also helped facilitate some of Borgen´s meetings with human rights activists in Baku. (20-AUG-07)
This article is written by HRH F / Niels Jacob Harbitz.
´In the shadow of Statoil´ concludes a trilogy jointly entitled ´Innocent Norway,´ of which the two previous instalments have both caused serious debate. Borgen´s previous film, addressing Norway´s contribution to international arms trade, was censored by the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, Borgen´s former employer, and shown instead on the private competitor channel TV 2. So will also ´In the Shadow of Statoil, according to Borgen´s own website www.erlingborgen.com already next month.
With the blessing of the free world
´In the shadow of Statoil´ is an exposition of the violent and thoroughly corrupt family regime of Azerbaijan, a country blessed with enormous oil and gas resources, and therefore of great interest to companies in the extracting business. Despite its natural wealth, though, seen from the people´s point of view Azerbaijan remains a poor country, with material wealth extremely unevenly distributed and civil, political, social, economic, cultural and all other rights and freedoms severely restricted. Borgen´s point is that the Norwegian oil and gas contractor Statoil, with the Norwegian state as its main share holder, contributes heavily to preserve and further underpin this situation, through its direct dealings with Azeri authorities.
-Now, isn´t that exciting?
Journalists, human rights activists, trade unionists and aid workers feature heavily in the film, all to shed further light on the key questions that representatives of Statoil and Norwegian authorities in between all go to great lengths to avoid answering head on: What is the moral justification of dealing with this regime? Is there a lower threshold to what kind of regimes the Norwegian state is prepared to do business with? One honourable exception is former Norwegian Ambassador Steinar Gil, right, who himself stood as a living shield between the hundreds of Azeri protesters and the violent police during the post-election clashes in October 2003. The film also features Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, left, happily fraternising with his Azeri colleague Heidar Aliyev, and then continuing to inform, with even greater enthusiasm, that future Norwegian pensions will be pumped up from underneath the seabed of the Caspian sea.