Baku, Azerbaijan, Sept. 17
By Elmira Tariverdiyeva - Trend:
A prominent Italian politician says the coming elections in Azerbaijan offer a chance for European institutions to show there are no double standards in their treatment of the country and to instead, "positively contribute to the election process", PRNewswire reported with reference to Azerbaijan Monitor.
Five million Azerbaijani people are set to go to the polls in the November 1st Parliamentary elections, Luca Volontè, the former President of the European People's Party in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, said.
"Europe's institutions and the media ignore the fact that thousands of Azerbaijani people are being denied their democratic rights in Armenian-occupied Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding territories," he said.
Volontè said even the Official Representative of the Council of Europe, Bob Walter, has been denied access to the occupied territories but, regrettably, there is "not a word about this in Europe".
And the visiting election observers will be unable to visit any of the Armenia-occupied territories, something Volontè believes is another missed opportunity.
He further fears that in the wake of the jailing of journalist Khadija Ismayilova earlier this month, the media will conflate judicial matters and the electoral process.
"Unfortunately, recent controversies triggered by western media indicate double standards and partisan evaluations could be employed in the Azerbaijani elections," he said.
Volontè believes some of the official election observers will arrive in Baku having pre-judged the poll despite the fact that both European Parliament and PACE observers found the 2013 Presidential election to be a "free, fair and transparent electoral process."
"There are reasonable fears that some international spheres are trying to discredit the next free and democratic elections in Azerbaijan, even before they take place," he said.
"By doing this, Europe and international bodies are losing a great opportunity to positively contribute to the elections process and the reforms in Azerbaijan," he said.
In all, given European rhetoric against Baku and recent media coverage, Volontè has concluded the "prejudice of western countries towards Azerbaijani institutions will have only one victim: the credibility of Europe."