Calls on Commission to include benchmarks in dealing with the country.
STRASBOURG—The European Parliament on Thursday, adopted yet another resolution on the sorry Human Rights record of Azerbaijan, this time focusing on the case of Ilgar Mammadov, a hopeful presidential candidate against incumbent Ilham Aliyev.
The resolution voted by all political groups of the EU Parliament reminds all previous resolutions on Human Rights and the Rule of Law in Azerbaijan and mentions in particular, the curbs on freedom of expression in the country, the arrests of journalists, opposition party members, and especially Ilgar Mammadov, leader and presidential candidate of the Republican Alternative (REAL) party, for whom one member of the EU Parliament during the debate said, that he should be on the streets campaigning, and not in a prison cell.
The resolution stresses the unlawful detention of opposition politicians; the continuous deterioration of Human Rights and Rule of Law, the growing pressure on, and intimidation of NGOs and independent media, engendering a widespread sense of fear among opposition forces, human rights defenders and youth and social network activists. Bloggers, activists and other independent thinkers continue to experience serious limitations on their freedom of expression, facing prosecution on bogus charges, harassment, intimidation and physical attacks.
Members of the European Parliament expressed their concern, as to how Azerbaijan will be able to take up the rotating presidency of the Council of Europe in 2014, while Baku stifles all forms of freedom of expression, all the more, that the country is a party to the European Convention on Human Rights; a current holder of a non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and has committed itself to upholding the values in the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. By its actions, Azerbaijan is diminishing all core values of the European Neighborhood Policy, Eastern Partnership, the Euronest, which the country is committed to uphold.
The EU Parliament reaffirmed its position, that an agreement with Azerbaijan must include clauses and benchmarks relating to the protection and promotion of human rights, especially with regard to freedom of the media, freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of assembly.
The deputies called on the European External Action Service (EEAS) to strictly apply the ‘more for more’ principle, with a specific focus on inclusive, free and fair elections, the independence of the judiciary, democratic reforms and fundamental rights and freedoms, and clearly to lay down the consequences of lagging behind in relation to reforms. The resolution’s single amendment is calling on Commission President José Manuel Barroso to speak out on the EU’s human rights concerns vis-à-vis Azerbaijan, during President Ilham Aliyev’s visit to Brussels in the coming days.
European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy President Mr. Kaspar Karampetian said, “once again the European Parliament has taken the initiative in highlighting the case of Human Rights in Azerbaijan – a country far and away from the basic understandings of Democracy and the Rule of Law. We expect the EU to uphold its principles in its dealing with Azerbaijan, as it is demanded in this resolution by the Members of the European Parliament. A democratic Azerbaijan is the only key to sustainable peace in the South Caucasus,” concluded Karampetian.