Tuesday

26th Jan 2021

'EU trying to turn Azerbaijan into Libya'

  • Oil and gas versus EU values: An old story (Photo: eni.com)

A senior Azerbaijani MP has accused the European Parliament of political "subversion" after the EU assembly said Azerbaijan's recent election was rigged.

Elkhan Suleymanov - a deputy who is close to President Ilham Aliyev and who heads the country's delegation to Euronest, an EU body for building closer relations with former Soviet states - voiced his anger in a letter to EU parliament chief Martin Schulz on Thursday (24 October).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

He accused MEPs of fomenting "unrest" and of trying "to turn Azerbaijan into Libya and Syria."

He said they are "seriously damaging the reputation" of the EU and that he is "forced to suspend the activities of the Azerbaijani delegation in the Euronest PA [parliamentary assembly]."

He also accused ODIHR - the Warsaw-based election monitoring wing of the OSCE, a pan-European democracy watchdog - of serving the interests of unnamed "power states" by creating "a negative image of Azerbaijan … slander and calumny."

The letter comes after the EU parliament on Wednesday endorsed a report which said Aliyev rigged his own re-election on 9 October.

The report, drafted by Polish centre-right MEP Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, went through by a sizeable majority.

It supported the verdict of the ODIHR, which said the regime "intimidated" opposition groups, "stuffed" ballot boxes and fiddled the vote count in "an unprecedented 58 percent of stations observed."

It also directly contradicted a previous statement by a group of seven MEPs attached to Pace, a branch of the Strasbourg-based rights watchdog, the Council of Europe.

The MEPs and Pace said the elections were "free, fair … professional and peaceful."

The group-of-seven's statement has sparked a row in the EU assembly.

"This EP/Pace report would be laughable if its implications were not so serious … It is crucial to come down hard on those who disregard internationally-agreed norms," Graham Watson, a senior British Liberal MEP, said earlier this week.

"The EP/Pace statement lends legitimacy to a blatantly fraudulent process," Holly Ruthrauff, an analyst at Electoral Reform International Services, a London-based NGO, told EUobserver.

For their part, the EU foreign service and the European Commission have also endorsed the ODIHR verdict.

But their statement on Alyiev's fake re-election was notably meek amid EU efforts to tap Azerbaijan's oil and gas riches.

Foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and neighbourhood commissioner Stefan Fuele said Aliyev should address "serious shortcomings."

But they added that they "look forward to continuing our close co-operation with Azerbaijan" and praised the vote's "strong turnout."

Opinion

Baku Games: the politics of sport

The mini-Olympics which just started in Baku is a chance to press for the release of its jailed journalists.

Opinion

EU red carpet for Azerbaijan sends wrong message

Deepening engagement with Aliyev’s government, without first securing concrete human rights improvements, tells the world the EU does not care about its own values.

Opinion

The under-reported power struggle at the top of the OSCE

An internal power struggle has undermined the world's leading international security body since the summer. The OSCE is due to finally get new leaders in December but the unprecedented power vacuum has hit at a crunch time for hotspots worldwide.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  2. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  6. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice

Latest News

  1. Giuseppe Conte: scapegoat or Italy's most cunning politician?
  2. Borrell to meet Lavrov, while Navalny behind bars
  3. Too few central and eastern Europeans at top of EU
  4. Rift widens on 'returns' deadline in EU migration pact
  5. EU adds new 'dark red' zone to travel-restrictions map
  6. Migrants in Bosnia: a disaster foretold on EU doorstep
  7. Navalny protests sharpen EU sanctions talks
  8. Why Russia politics threaten European security

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us