Azerbaijan’s high-ranking official slams OSCE/ODIHR report on elections

Fri 11 Oct 2013 03:47 GMT | 07:47 Local Time

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Head of Department of political analysis and information provision at the Presidential Administration of Azerbaijan Elnur Aslanov has commented on the latest report issued by OSCE ODIHR on 9 October presidential elections in Azerbaijan.

“On 9 October, the people of Azerbaijan made their conscious choice. This is a reality of Azerbaijan where every citizen has a voice in government, and where a concern about the citizen constitutes the cornerstone of government policy. This fact was witnessed by everyone who was invited to our country to monitor the elections if only observers were not given a blatant, undisguised task to discredit the process.

Today, heads of state from all over the globe sent congratulatory messages welcoming open and democratic elections that confirmed people's confidence to President Ilham Aliyev.

For the people of Azerbaijan, who contributed to the future of the country with their voice, these elections proved an additional reason for unification of all political forces and all citizens in support of the elected head of state.

However, there is always a fly in the ointment. So, if not otherwise, can be called the report of the assessment mission of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of OSCE. This organization, founded in 1990 and first called the Office for Free Elections, now is not consistent with the originally stated goals and objectives. This is what we once again witnessed yesterday.  

What is interesting is that the ODIHR report means nothing for voters who voted in an open and democratic environment for Ilham Aliyev. Any citizen of the independent Azerbaijan had, has and will have a president elected by these people themselves whose main task is to define the course of development of the country in line with national interests. It is for this reason that the ODIHR’s assessment of the electoral process and elections in Azerbaijan cannot be called anything other than political hypocrisy.

First, elections in Azerbaijan were, are and will be held in accordance with the Constitution and the Electoral Code of the country, but not under orders from outside.

Secondly, obviously biased position of observers of the assessment mission, the theater of absurd, in which an international institution called the OSCE ODIHR became a tool of political pressure, points to extreme incompetence and a something close to simple stupidity.

One is simply obliged to give this assessment given the language of the report, in which the striking superficiality of the mission, documenting some of the claims solely based on the viewpoint of opposition newspapers, can easily be noticed.

Western countries themselves do not live up to many of the ODIHR recommendations traditionally imposed on CIS countries like an ultimatum. One cannot but recall the row between the government of Texas and the OSCE ODIHR observers. Back in 2012, the State Attorney prohibited the OSCE ODIHR observers to approach the polling stations closer than 30 meters, and threatened with criminal prosecution for violation of "local rules."

The authorities of Iowa, Arizona and Mississippi also banned members of the mission to appear at sites of voting. As an OSCE member, the United States does not have the right not to allow observers to monitor the elections. But this did happen. OSCE ODIHR leadership pretended that nothing bad had happened. So, ODIHR has destructive criticism and ultimate tone for small states, and whiny, even pleading tone for a number of Western countries.

The similar incident occurred in early parliamentary elections in Ireland on 25 February, 2011. Back then ODIHR voiced a strange position about confidence of voters to the way elections were organized despite the fact that Ireland had not fulfilled most of the major recommendations made previously.

Such double standards applied by ODIHR while making decisions about international observation of the elections are, at least, perplexing. Thus, OSCE employs double standards.

This practice of ODIHR is not consistent with the Copenhagen Document, which lays foundations of international electoral standards and the organization of election observation as well as modern approaches to monitoring of elections in OSCE participants states in uniform and equitable basis.

One gets an impression that the monitoring of elections by the OSCE has become a single mechanism of political pressure, and reports on results of observations are made depending on policy of the country that holds the elections. Azerbaijan calls to review this practice and will insist on developing more objective mechanisms of issuing decision on the quality of the elections.

What is noteworthy is that ODIHR assessment mission jointly with the European Parliament and the PACE gave a single - positive - assessment of the elections in Armenia, held this winter, despite the obvious violations of electoral law as well as freedoms and rights of citizens, up to the assassination attempt on one of the candidates for president.

Such a "selectivity" in assessment of what is happening in different parts of the OSCE, unfortunately, has been characteristic of ODIHR long before. We have talked about it more than once. Thus, we cannot say that ODIHR is impartial is its work.

However, amid the general positive perception of the elections in Azerbaijan, about which nearly 1,300 international observers from 100 countries have given their positive reviews, ODIHR report on Azerbaijan was so biased that caused disagreements between OSCE representatives themselves and observation missions of European Parliament and PACE. It is for this reason it was decided to make the final assessment public not jointly, but separately as it was originally planned.

But ODIHR is so unique on the Earth.  Didactic tone and obvious bias of this organization have undermined its credibility as an independent institution.

Many international observers have already noted the high level of organization of the electoral process and have not noticed any significant irregularities.

Also, one cannot simply fail to forget there are also leaders of OSCE member states and ODIHR donors among those who congratulated Ilham Aliyev for holding elections meeting international standards and who consider Ilham Aliyev's election democratic and in line with international standards.

So, one has to do nothing but say with regret that this is another fact of attempts to discredit the image of Azerbaijan and to mislead the world public.

No one claims that the elections in Azerbaijan were spotless. But they were held in an open and transparent manner, and became another test of maturity for the young Azerbaijani democracy.




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