Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

The European Parliament will not be sending observers to the Azerbaijani Presidential elections

The European Parliament (EP) will not be sending observers to the Azerbaijani Presidential elections in October, a key EP committee decided on July 13.

The decision came as the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), a part of the OSCE, finally received a formal invitation from Azerbaijan and starting recruiting its core team for an observation mission in the Caspian oil and gas rich state.

But the EP’s Democracy Support and Election Coordination Group (DEG) decided that Azerbaijan will not be on its list of elections to be watched by the EP this autumn although a team of parliamentarians will be sent to Georgia’s presidential election in the same month.

The DEG which is headed by veteran German MEP Elmar Brok, a Christian Democrat who chairs the  parliament’s foreign affairs committee and by Eva Joly, a French Green who chairs the Development committee, gave no reason why no one would be going to Baku. Previously, Azerbaijan’s presidential elections were observed by the EP in 2005, 2008 and 2010.

Azeri parliamentarians like Elkhan Suleymanov gleefully pounced on the decision and declared it a ‘historic moment’ which showed that the EP ‘ has decided to take Azerbaijan off the list of countries which require election observation.

Meanwhile the decision dismayed Azeri civil rights activists who noted that the EP should at least have explained its position to counter government claims that Azerbaijan is now so democratic that its elections do not need to be monitored from abroad.

One observer in the EP noted that the decision had been motivated by a fear of annoying the government in Baku as it takes key pipeline decisions which are important to the EU. “It is evident that the election is not going to be free and not going to be fair” , he said. “Sending a mission and telling the truth would anger the government, not saying anything would raise the question why did they go in the first place”.

Written by Krzysztof Bobinski

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