Giesecke & Devrient: Bogenhausen’s war propaganda – Economics

Martial gestures are part of war, and a symbolic act is part of the defeat of the enemy: a statue is torn from its pedestal or a flag is hoisted where another waved a short time before. They are images intended to capture and divert attention from the horror, death and displacement that preceded the gesture.

There have been numerous photos of soldiers hoisting flags on barren hills a year ago, when Azerbaijani troops conquered land that was previously held by Armenians in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The war in the region between Azerbaijan and Armenia, which borders Iran to the south, has claimed the lives of more than 5,000 soldiers and hundreds of civilians. On November 9, 2020, the belligerents signed a ceasefire agreement across Russia and the front lines were frozen. It was like a victory for Azerbaijan.

To mark this anniversary, a note will be issued in Azerbaijan to celebrate this victory. The 500 manat banknote shows soldiers standing on a hill in Nagorno-Karabakh and hoisting a flag. Next to it is “Karabakh is Azerbaijan!”. Classic war propaganda – with which a German company also earns money.

G&D stopped working with Myanmar after public pressure

Because the note was designed, developed and printed in Munich by Giesecke & Devrient, abbreviated G&D. The traditional Munich-based company has grown from a ticket printer to a global security technology group. The original business, however, is the production of banknotes. The company, based in Munich’s upscale Bogenhausen district, supplies them to governments and their central banks around the world.

Time and time again, G&D has dealt with autocratic regimes. The company last stopped working with Myanmar in April after public pressure and weeks of hesitation. The soldiers had already taken power there in February and had had demonstrators shot. G&D had been in business with Myanmar since 1970, supplying components for the manufacture of local currency. And in 2010, the company only stopped delivering special paper to Zimbabwe under pressure from the federal government, where then-dictator Robert Mugabe upheld his rule of injustice with help from the printing.

So now another deal with a repressive regime is disrupting operations. Not everyone at G&D seems to have been happy with ordering the Cheer Ticket to glorify a Bloody War. From the company, it is said that there have been discussions among the workforce as to whether this form of propaganda should be economically beneficial.

Azerbaijan bribed European politicians, including Germans

In Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev and his wife Mehriban reign unreservedly; he is the president of the state and she is his deputy. Elections have been considered unfree for years, the opposition and the free press are systematically spied on, repressed and imprisoned. Corruption is rampant, a caste of oligarchs controls both politics and the economy. Oil from the Caspian Sea has made the country rich and a major energy supplier for the European Union as well. In order to distract from human rights violations and not endanger the oil trade, Azerbaijan bribed European politicians, including Germans. The political and legal questioning continues.

Anyone doing business with the country therefore also runs a reputational risk. At G&D, however, there was ultimately no resistance to management’s decision to accept the order, according to the company. According to information from SZ, the silver printers even set up a working group to start production in a relatively short time before the anniversary of the Azerbaijani victory. However, at one million copies the print run was so small that the printing press was installed longer than it was running, insiders say, and the work was not worth it. However, the introduction of the 500 manat note could eventually lead to follow-up orders.

The company announced that it would not be able to provide any information on the “addressed ticket”. Basically, we “only have business relationships with central banks that belong to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank and against which there are no ongoing sanctions”.

The Munich-based company now produces not only for Azerbaijan, but also for nemesis and neighbor Armenia. When representatives of the Azerbaijani central bank were supposed to come to Germany to buy the banknote, they were obviously worried about seeing Armenian money in the printing press as well. However, the visit was canceled due to a corona case in the delegation, it is said.

The general population of Azerbaijan is unlikely to get their hands on the bill worth 500 manat – currently just over 250 euros. 500 manat roughly equates to an average monthly salary.

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