Baku, Azerbaijan, Nov. 4
By Elmira Tariverdiyeva - Trend:
Refusal to observe Azerbaijan's parliamentary election, held Nov. 1, suggests about the bias of OSCE/ODIHR, said Andrey Kelin, director of the European Cooperation Department at Russia's Foreign Ministry.
Kelin, who previously served as Russia's permanent representative at the OSCE in Vienna, made the remarks in an interview with TASS Nov. 4.
"Until now, it has always been possible to find negotiated solutions. In general, the situation with the ODIHR looks very strange," said Kelin.
He added that only two ODIHR experts attended an election in Germany, while the organization wanted to send 600 observers to an election in Kyrgyzstan.
Kelin also noted that ODIHR expressed a wish to send a disproportionate number of observers to Azerbaijan.
"Azerbaijan said 'No, we'd like to receive a more limited mission.' Such situations emerged in the past too. This is nothing new."
"Many countries say that they don't need thousands of observers who are engaged only in finding faults," said Kelin. "It is a common practice. So Azerbaijan said: "No, let's negotiate." Then, all of a sudden, the ODIHR leadership took a completely incomprehensible decision not to go to election at all."
In general, it only confirms biased attitude of ODIHR, he said.
In addition, ODIHR standards are by no means "golden", and they are interpreted very freely, whereas there should be clear and transparent rules for monitoring equal for all the countries to the east and west of Vienna, the diplomat said.
"Of course, we can cut the budget part [of the ODIHR], but it is not large," said Kelin. "In addition to the modest budget, there is also a huge off-budget fund, which is filled with additional financial injections of the West supporters. The ODIHR mainly exists at the expense of these extra-budgetary resources. The bureau carries out much of its work using this money by fulfilling opportunistic orders."
Earlier, the OSCE press office issued a statement of the ODIHR Director Michael Link, stating that no mission would be sent to observe Azerbaijan's Nov. 1 parliamentary election. Following the statement, the OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier, addressing a press conference in Moscow, expressed regret that it was not possible to reach an agreement to send an ODIHR observer mission to Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan held its parliamentary election Nov. 1. As many as 767 candidates ran for 125 seats in the country's parliament. The election was monitored by 503 international observers from 40 organizations and over 66,000 local observers.
Following the election, many foreign observers, analysts and experts pointed out the transparency, openness and smooth voting process at the election, as well as high voter turnout.