WASHINGTON—Using direct language, the U.S. Department of State has sharply criticized Baku for a surprise move blocking a U.S. observer mission from visiting Azerbaijan to review electoral preparations being made for its October 9th presidential election.
According to RFE/RL, a spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Baku said the pre-election visit, which was to have been led by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Melia, was abruptly cancelled at the request of the Azerbaijani government. No reason was given. Read RFE/RL’s coverage here.
In a sign that the State Department may be edging away from its flawed practice of artificial even-handedness in public statements about Armenia and Azerbaijan, U.S. diplomats have begun specifically “laundry-listing” Baku’s many democratic shortcomings and corruption-based problems.
Responding to an inquiry by H1 Television Washington correspondent Haykaram Nahapetyan, the State Department issued the following statement, addressing many of these issues directly. The State Department’s response is offered in full below:
“The U.S. regrets that the government of Azerbaijan has objected to the composition of a U.S. delegation that was to make an official pre-election visit to Azerbaijan. As a result, the visit will not take place.”
“The Azerbaijani government’s actions raise questions about the environment leading up to the October 9 presidential election.”
“We call on the government of Azerbaijan to ensure a free and fair electoral process that reflects the will of the people.”
“We urge Azerbaijani authorities to respect the freedoms of assembly, association, and speech as well as the rule of law and due process before, during, and after the presidential contest. We also urge the authorities to facilitate the important work of domestic as well as international election monitors.”