Azerbaijani official responds to US-based The Economists' article

Fri 13 Sep 2013 03:45 GMT | 07:45 Local Time

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On 12 September, US-based magazine The Economist published a letter by Elnur Aslanov, Head of the Political Analysis and Information Department at the Presidential Administration of Azerbaijan, addressed to the editor of this magazine under a title ‘Azerbaijan’s place in the world’ in response to the article ‘How not to prepare for an election’ published by same the magazine on 2 September.

“SIR – I welcome your coverage of the events that take part in the political life of Azerbaijan. However, I would like to express some concern over an online article, “How not to prepare for an election” (September 2nd), which painted the overall situation in the country as black and white while missing some perspective,” Aslanov says in his letter.

“We are fully aware that if you silence the media, you silence informed citizens and freedom can be greatly compromised. We support and protect a free and diverse media. The government has no say in the form and content of hundreds of daily newspapers, magazines and other products that roll off the printing press. It is our belief that setbacks in democratic advancement are also setbacks for the overall development of the state,” the letter says.

“We do have some issues that we are still working upon, who doesn’t? Building in less than a generation a modern, secular and democratic nation, from the ruins of seven decades under Soviet rule is not an easy task. Even so, today Azerbaijan is a harmonious, tolerant, multi-ethnic and multi-confessional state, an emerging powerhouse that serves as the socio-political and economic conduit between Europe and Asia. Azerbaijan is viewed by many as a strategic partner in the south-Caucasus, including NATO, which counts on Azerbaijan’s east-west corridor to deliver about 30% of the coalition’s supplies bound for Afghanistan.

“Although some may see Azerbaijan’s journey towards genuine democracy as some years away, we are nonetheless achieving rapid economic growth after a hard transition process. Today Azerbaijan holds 39th place amoing 148 economies in the Global Competitiveness report by the World Economic Forum. This reflects many factors, including the poverty rate, which has fallen from 50% in 2001 to 6% now,” the letter reads.

“Free and fair elections are a cornerstone of all forms of democracy and Azerbaijan is about to vote in its five-yearly presidential election. The outcome will matter. At stake is the continuing economic growth and socio-political security that has placed Azerbaijan in the global mainstream. With this in mind we are committed to doing everything we can to make sure that these elections are transparent, free and fair.”

“Azerbaijan has repeatedly demonstrated its real commitment to European integration. Our country has expressed its readiness to fully support the relevant European initiatives and actively participate in ensuring Europe’s energy security. These factors, not some biased accusations, should be considered at the Vilnius summit in November,” the official noted in his letter.

“As the Euro-Atlantic community continues to face a range of global challenges it cannot tackle on its own, its relations with Azerbaijan are a reminder that strategic partnerships with reliable friends can produce positive geopolitical results. With this in mind, we appreciate your help, ready to assist and always welcome news coverage that will spread the word about our efforts,” Aslanov stressed in the letter.

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