Presidential election presents opportunity for Azerbaijan, OSCE Special Envoy says

Ambassador Heikki Talvitie, the Special Envoy of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, today welcomed the Azerbaijani authorities' stated determination to create conditions for the upcoming presidential election to be held as close to international standards as possible.

"The 15 October election presents an important opportunity for Azerbaijan to demonstrate its commitment to the democratic reform process," he said at the end of a two-day visit to the country.

Talvitie called on all stakeholders to strengthen public confidence in the election process, including by ensuring equal access to media for all candidates and respecting the right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.

The Finnish OSCE Chairmanship supports the work of the OSCE Office in Baku and its head, Ambassador Jose Luis Herrero, Talvitie said. He particularly highlighted the Office's initiatives to encourage full implementation of freedom of assembly, to guarantee equal treatment by the media of all candidates and to avoid interference by non-authorized agents in the electoral process.

Azerbaijani authorities assured Talvitie that an invitation for an OSCE Election Observation Mission would be forthcoming. The OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, in anticipation of such an invitation, recently requested OSCE participating States to second 30 long-term observers to be deployed to Azerbaijan at the beginning of September. In addition, 450 short-term observers will be deployed for election day observation.

In discussions about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement process, Talvitie underlined the Finnish OSCE Chairmanship's support for the work of the Minsk Group Co-chairs and the Personal Representative of the Chairman-in-Office, Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk.

"I welcome both sides' willingness to continue the negotiations based on the basic principles for the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The next meeting between the Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia, scheduled to take place1 August in Moscow under the auspices of the Minsk Group Co-chairs, will provide another opportunity to discuss both sides' positions," he said.

During his two-day visit, Talvitie met officials including President Ilham Aliyev, Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov and Central Election Commission Chair Mazahir Panahov. He also held discussions with representatives of political parties, the media and the diplomatic corps in Baku.

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