European Parliament will not observe elections in Azerbaijan
The European Parliament said it would not observe the early parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan, which will be held on February 9.
Reasons explaining the EP’s absence have not been named.
A press release from the European Parliament says:
“None of the members of the European Parliament or of its structures are authorized to observe or comment on the election process on behalf of the European Parliament. If any member of the European Parliament decides to observe these elections, they will do so on their own, and under no circumstances will they represent the point of view or position of the European Parliament.”
When representatives of the European Parliament have previously served as observers at elections in Azerbaijan, this has given rise to both domestic and international criticism.
For example, after the presidential election in 2013 (in which Ilham Aliyev won again), a big scandal broke out due to a mismatch in the assessment of the representatives of the European Parliament and the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). European observers claimed that the elections were fair and the ODIHR claimed numerous violations.
Snap parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan were called after the parliament announced it would dissolve itself at the end of 2019. The initiator of this was the ruling New Azerbaijan Party.
Opposition reaction: “Good news!”
The leader of the unregistered opposition Republican Alternative party Ilgar Mammadov is pleased, calling the announcement “good news.”
“Having decided not to observe the elections, the European Parliament did not allow the Aliyev regime to once again confuse the people: in the previous elections, individual EP members came and made inappropriate statements here, and the TV channels presented their conclusions as a verdict of the European Parliament as a whole,” Ilgar Mammadov on his Facebook page.
He himself cannot participate in the upcoming elections due to a criminal record on charges of organizing riots. The European Court of Human Rights ruled that the charge is unfair and demands that the Azerbaijani authorities restore the legal status of Ilgar Mammadov. But this requirement has not yet been fulfilled.
However, other members of the Republican Alternative Party are actively preparing for the election.
Ali Kerimli, one of the leaders of the opposition association National Council of Democratic Forces, is also pleased: in his opinion, this move will cast doubt on the international legitimacy of the upcoming elections.
“In past years, the caviar diplomacy of the Azerbaijani government has been unveiled. The whole world learned that by bribing European diplomats, the Azerbaijani government pursued mainly two goals: that these diplomats conceal human rights are violated in Azerbaijan and that they portray falsified elections as democratic. And the current decision of the European Parliament was the result of exposing this caviar diplomacy,” said Ali Karimli on his Facebook page.
In his opinion, this is one of the main reasons why the European Parliament does not want to observe the snap elections.
The National Council of Democratic Forces announced a boycott of the upcoming elections and refused to run in them, calling the election a “show.”
The official reaction: “They were simply not invited”
Samed Seyidov, the head of the parliamentary committee on international relations and inter-parliamentary relations, said that “the allegations of the radical opposition that the EU allegedly refuses to send observers to Azerbaijan are a complete lie and fiction.”
Seidov says Azerbaijan simply did not send an invitation to observe the elections to either the EU or the European Parliament, since it is not a member of these organizations.
“Naturally, without an invitation, the EU and the European Parliament cannot send a delegation to observe the elections,” Seyidov said.