Azerbaijan's leader dismisses 'smear campaign' ahead of Eurovision

Tue 17 Apr 2012 00:49 GMT | 04:49 Local Time

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President Ilham Aliyev has criticized what he described as a "dirty campaign" against Azerbaijan on the eve of the Eurovision Song Contest.

He made the comments at an expanded meeting of the government on Monday to review socioeconomic progress in the first quarter, APA reports.

"Unfortunately, the press is continuing a dirty campaign against our country in connection with the Eurovision Song Contest. We know full well what forces are behind this campaign," the president said, but stopped short of naming them.

"There are countries where dirty, defamatory articles about Azerbaijan are published week in and week out and even day in and day out. This is a coordinated policy, of course. However, this policy does not and will not lead to results, because there is no force that can influence our policies, nor will there be while I’m in this chair. We go our own way. We will go the way of our independence and our freedom!"

Claiming that Azerbaijan has all freedoms, the president criticized other countries. "Those who want to accuse us of anti-democratic steps, let’s look at what is happening in their countries. Every day protesters there are beaten, seriously injured and hundreds of demonstrators are arrested. Some of the media in these countries are running a smear campaign against Azerbaijan."

He said that Azerbaijan enjoyed democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of conscience and assembly. "All the Azerbaijani people have seen that there is freedom of assembly in our country. If those who want to take this opportunity comply with the rules of normal behaviour, conduct their activities where the Municipality indicates, then they will be able to exercise their right to freedom of assembly. I believe that the city mayor’s office made a wise choice in allocating the most suitable place for demonstrations and rallies, the most suitable place for these people."

The president was upbeat about the country’s plans. "We are confident going forward. Provocations against us will continue. The information war against us will continue, but this does not worry us. We simply need to talk about it, to take our own steps to ensure a happy future for the Azerbaijani people."




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