Top official: Elections in Azerbaijan held democratically, fairly thus far (UPDATE 2)

Details added (first version posted on 11:50)

Baku, Azerbaijan, Oct. 2

By Elchin Mehdiyev - Trend:

During the independence period, Azerbaijan has had up to 15 electoral procedures of republican level, and the participation of the media in these processes was ensured absolutely, said Ali Hasanov, Azerbaijani president's aide for public and political affairs.

He was addressing a seminar titled "Election to Azerbaijan's Milli Majlis: The Roles and Duties of Media in Pre-election Campaigning Process" on Oct. 2.

"The elections, held so far in Azerbaijan, have been democratic and fair," said Hasanov.

He said certain shortcomings aren't ruled out - no country is insured against them, but according to the general results of the elections, they have been held fairly and democratically.

"I believe this election too will be no exception," said Hasanov. "The election depends on the mood in society, the social environment and the created conditions."

"The Central Election Commission has taken all the necessary actions for fair election in Azerbaijan," he added.

Regarding the media, Hasanov said the journalist ID is enough for the media members to be able to observe the electoral process from the beginning till the end.

"We regard media as the important participant of elections," said the top official. "Its task is to truthfully analyze the electoral environment, to become familiar with the population's election mood and its activeness."

He noted that media is the only institution for conveying these processes to the society.

"Sometimes, some circles can't objectively assess the conclusion of the Central Election Commission, however, media assesses it objectively," said Hasanov. "From this point of view, the role of the press is priceless.'

"Media should create equal conditions for all sides, including political parties and blocks participating in elections," said the top official.

The press must act in accordance with the law on mass media, electoral law, as well as the pluralistic policy pursued by the state and create equal conditions for candidates, according to Ali Hasanov.

At the same time, as the president's aide said, the media plays an important role in shaping the state's image, and is "indispensable".

"You know that the mechanisms of creation of image in the modern world, the mechanisms of managing the public opinion in the world are being controlled by known centers," Hasanov added. "That is, the general tendency in the world is that the media must be free, independent, and must themselves build their policies and activities."

He said it is no secret that the tendency of media management is inherent in all states.

"All the states aspire for the media, which spread information about their activities, assess the public mood in society and spread information about it, to be managed to the maximum extent possible," he said.

The top official noted that the foundation of political pluralistic norms in media was laid by Azerbaijan's National Leader Heydar Aliyev.

By signing a decree dated Aug.6, 1998, the national leader laid the foundation of the freedom of speech, freedom of the press in Azerbaijan by removing and abolishing all regulatory and state control mechanisms with respect to the press, he added.

"Today, by following these principles, President Ilham Aliyev takes all steps to form and develop political pluralistic society in Azerbaijan," said Hasanov.

The top official said that currently, freedom of the Internet has been ensured in Azerbaijan, use of social networks is unrestricted, anyone can open a blog, express own opinion there and share it with others.

Moreover, media outlets can freely collect and disseminate any information, criticize or express support for the policy pursued by the government, Hasanov added.

"We don't control social networks and we have no such intentions," the top official said. "There are no and won't be problems in Azerbaijan in this sphere."

He pointed out that democratic norms form the basis of the Azerbaijani state which is reflected in the country's constitution.

The norms of the freedom of press, political pluralistic society, the foundation of which was laid by the national leader continue and will be continued by President Ilham Aliyev and his team, Hasanov said.

The president's aide added that every journalist has the right to freely observe the election process in Azerbaijan, but this doesn't apply to the foreign media outlets operating in the country.

"This happens in the whole world," said the top official. "There are norms for activities of foreign media outlets in Azerbaijan. They can observe elections after receiving a corresponding document by being accredited in the Foreign Ministry and by giving information to the Central Election Commission about their intention to observe the elections."

"We would like the press to inform about this as well and those who carry out a campaign against Azerbaijan to know that the state governance is carried out in accordance with the law and it is necessary to comply with all legal norms," said Hasanov.

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