BAKU, Azerbaijan, Jan. 30
There is nothing new that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) periodically expresses biased position towards Azerbaijan, Azerbaijani Deputy Prime Minister Ali Ahmadov wrote in the article entitled "Anti-Azerbaijan Algorithm in the PACE Decision Making Mechanism", posted on his Facebook page, Trend reports on Jan. 29.
“This was repeatedly stated and the reasons were mentioned,” Ahmadov, who is also deputy chairman of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party, said. “However, the groundless criticism against Azerbaijan contained in PACE resolution #2317 - “Threats to media freedom and journalists’ security in Europe” adopted on Jan. 28, gives reason to say that the structure’s bias towards Azerbaijan has become chronic.”
“Azerbaijan is experiencing a period of rapid development and transformation,” the deputy prime minister said. “Successful continuation of the path chosen by the country, along with many factors, envisages transparency, information freedom, openness to the world. Cooperation, partnership, expansion of economic ties, information exchange with Europe - all this is one of the main conditions that give impetus to the progress on the path chosen by the country.”
“Moreover, Azerbaijan always openly and resolutely declares that it puts national and state interests at the forefront,” Ahmadov added. “As in all issues, the attitude to freedom of speech and press in Azerbaijan is stipulated in the context of freedoms enshrined in the Constitution and laws. It is possible to list dozens of reasons proving that Azerbaijan is on the same level with the countries where freedom of speech and media are protected.”
“Amid this situation, the appeal to the Azerbaijani authorities contained in the PACE resolution to put an end to "repressions" against journalists is incomprehensible,” Ali Ahmadov said. "It is enough to say that one of the authoritative international structures of Europe - PACE - cannot clearly explain the meaning of these far-fetched “repressions”. While analyzing the “accusations” against Azerbaijan, I would like to mention two “arguments” which are used by this structure.”
“The essence of the first argument is to stop the use of all kinds of sanctions against journalists,” Ahmadov said. “It is up to citizens to estimate the extent of legitimacy and fairness of this proposal (or requirement) from the point of view of human rights and the rule of law."
"While pursuing some goals, it turns out that for the sake of criticizing Azerbaijan, PACE feels free to demonstrate undemocratic approaches and distinguishes journalists as a separate caste. This means that if a journalist violates laws, commits a crime, slanders others and insults innocent people, then legal measures cannot and must not be taken against this journalist,” the deputy prime minister said. “In this case, how should the rights of people, insulted as a result of the actions of a journalist and subjected to moral terror, be protected? The “claims” against Azerbaijan in the notorious PACE resolution are also substantiated by such an absurd argument as provision of journalists with apartments by the Azerbaijani government, allegedly, this way the authorities bribe journalists.”
“Meanwhile, the Azerbaijani government provides different categories of people, in need of housing, with apartments,” Ahmadov added. “First of all, these are internally displaced people. Each year, the government allocates hundreds of millions of manat to provide internally displaced people with apartments. It would be appropriate to remind that the number of towns in which people of this category live, exceeds 100.”
“It would be better for PACE to think that as a result of Armenia’s aggression, 10 percent of the Azerbaijani population - one million people became internally displaced, and to contribute to the restoration of justice,” the deputy prime minister said. “But instead of this, the organization tries to find out and makes up reasons to criticize Azerbaijan.”
“Not only journalists and internally displaced people are provided with housing,” Ahmadov said. “The families of martyrs and displaced people of the Karabakh war, who are victims of aggression against Azerbaijan, are also provided with housing. There are also people from other categories who may take advantage of the state program on preferential apartments.”
“All these are different directions of the Azerbaijani social policy and to put it mildly, PACE’s attempt to politicize provision of journalists with housing is surprising,” the deputy prime minister added. “Objective approach, at the very least, requires the European structure, which seeks to show care for journalists, should praise this step taken by the Azerbaijani authorities."
Despite that state aid in the form of providing journalists with apartments, is, in fact, from the point of social justice, should be praised, is being criticized by the above mentioned structure,” Ahmadov said. “While evaluating journalists and attitude towards their activity in Azerbaijan, people who voted for the adoption of this resolution should've recalled the decision made by the Azerbaijani government to pay off the debts of all media outlets. But PACE decision-makers are silent about this aspect because they need an “argument” to criticize the country at all costs.”
“Such injustice is detrimental of PACE’s reputation,” the deputy prime minister added. “Of course, such a biased position of the above mentioned influential European structure against Azerbaijan disappoints us. However, any bias, first of all, undermines the reputation of PACE itself, casts doubt on objectivity. We wish the international organization, in which Azerbaijan is a member, to fulfill its mission with dignity and to be far away from injustice and bias."
“Here is another thing,” Ahmadov added. “The PACE’s biased resolution seems to please the radical opposition. The radical opposition members are very pleased. It so happens that the radicals are happy when Azerbaijan encounters problems and has to fight off lies. They criticize Azerbaijan by all available means in all the reports. One thing is unclear to them. The main thing for us is people’s opinion. People love Azerbaijan, believe Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and strongly support his policy."