“This is a direct accusation of me of committing a crime; I can sue those people who wrote it”
The resolution adopted last year by the European Parliament in respect of Azerbaijan was a serious setback in relations and was a big surprise, said on Tuesday the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev at the meeting with a delegation of the EU-Azerbaijan Parliamentary Cooperation Committee.
“We consider it in Azerbaijan as a very hostile, improper act, based on false information, prejudice and attempt to damage the reputation of our country. So without clarifying that, it will be difficult to move forward, and to plan our future. I have it here in my file. I don’t know whether all of you are aware about it, probably yes, but I would like to refer to some of the items, the many of them, but some of them I think worth mentioning. And maybe it will be good for you to know my comments to that”, – said the head of state.
“This is not true. Human rights situation in Azerbaijan is improving. Azerbaijan is committed to democratic development and protection of human rights. And situation here with human rights protection demands more positive assessment. There are several items here which are based on false information, whether it was deliberately done or by mistake, I don’t know. One of them is that journalists and civil society leaders are being subjected to continuous intimidation and harassment, among them Emin Milli , director of Meydan TV, who has received death threats. This is wrong and this is a lie. He never received death threats. And I don’t know why this part appears here. Probably, again, it’s a part of a campaign against Azerbaijan”, – said the head of the state.
The Head of State touched on another point of the document: “Human rights defender Emin Huseynov has sought refuge in Switzerland after facing trumped-up charges and had his Azerbaijani citizenship revoked”.
“This is also based on false information. This person wrote a letter to me, asking me to deprive him from his citizenship. And that was done according to the law of Azerbaijan. And Minister of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, in whose embassy he was hiding for several month, came here, took him in his plane, and brought him in Switzerland. And an agreement about that was achieved between FM of Azerbaijan and FM of Switzerland. There are documents, the letter of Huseynov. And no one revoked his citizenship. So this is again another lie”, – said the head of state.
President Ilham Aliyev said that the document noted that from 2006 to date, peaceful protestors have been effectively banned from demonstrating in central Baku.
“Lie. There is no ban on demonstrations, freedom of assembly is fully provided here, since 2006 and before 2006 and now, these days, there were free apposition rallies in the center of Baku. They collected some several hundred people. It is a different story why people do not attend these rallies, but they were peaceful, free and everybody, including the embassy, can prove. So another lie is here. One more item: journalist Rasim Aliyev died in Baku hospital after being severely beaten, following continuous threats and intimidation in the aftermath of his criticism of president Aliyev via social media. This is a direct accusation of me, of committing a crime; I can sue those people who wrote it. Unfortunately Rasim Aliyev, a journalist who was covering sport events, died as a result of a tragic accident. He was beaten by relatives and fans of one football player whom he criticized for some actions. And they beat him and he died, it was an accident. It has nothing to do with us. He never criticized and nobody even knew about this person. So it’s a deliberate manipulation and accusation of me of being involved in that”, – said the head of state.
“It’s not only us; the EU is also trying to deepen relations with us. Therefore I think this wording does not reflect the substance of our cooperation. Our cooperation with the EU is based on mutual interests and mutual respect. And, by the way, with the EU we in general have very good relations. With 9 countries of the European Union we already have agreements or declarations on strategic partnership. Therefore there is a big difference between our relations with the European Union, its member states and the European Parliament”, – said the head of state.
President of Azerbaijan noted that the document states that, the OSCE office in Baku was closed on July 2015 following the Azerbaijani authorities’ decision to terminate the memorandum of understanding between the government of Azerbaijan and OSCE.
“Yes it was terminated, but there was a reason for that. Just for your information. The local representative of OSCE office was a French citizen of Azerbaijani origin, the only Azerbaijani serving in the Foreign Ministry of France. He comes from a very prominent family; his ancestors were among the founders of the first democratic republic of Azerbaijan, the first democratic republic in the Muslim world, which was created in 1918. The family has very great respect in Azerbaijan. So that person was dismissed after only one year serving in Azerbaijan, because of the very strong interference of the American ambassador to OSCE Mr. Baer, who accused this person for having a photograph with me in his office. And they pressed the government of France and Mr. Shahtakhtinski, the person who was the OSCE representative here, without any explanation, was dismissed from here. His career was ruined, he left the Foreign Ministry of France and only because he had a photo with me. So if it’s a crime to have a photo with me for an American representative of OSCE, then what are we talking about? What did I say? I said if Shahtakhtinski is dismissed, the office will shut down. I warned them, they didn’t listen, and we did it. Now, they want to restore the office and I put a condition. Bring back Shahtakhtinski, restore justice, restore his career, bring him back, then we will reopen the office. So this is what is behind this issue”, – emphasized President Ilham Aliyev.
The Head of State noted that the document states that, Azerbaijan closed the Freedom House office without explanation.
“Freedom House considers Azerbaijan to be not free, internet as partially free, and Azerbaijan has suffered the greatest decline in democratic governance in all Eurasia over the past 10 years. Can you imagine? This is absolutely ridiculous and probably does not deserve any comment. About Freedom House. Freedom House is an organization which Azerbaijan has no contact with, because of their pro-Armenian position, and permanent attacks on Azerbaijan. For many years the head of Freedom House was Mr. Kramer, who was fired from the State Department for different reasons and he transformed into a very active critic of Azerbaijan. So reports of Freedom House are absolutely not valid for us and I wonder why Freedom House appears here. It’s a nongovernmental organization; hundreds of them issue different reports. And saying that the greatest decline in all Eurasia is in Azerbaijan actually shows what is the attitude of this organization and what is the attitude of the European Parliament to Azerbaijan”, – said President Ilham Aliyev.
The document noted that, in November 2015 Azerbaijan will hold parliamentary elections.
“The European Parliament declined to send election observation mission. So you declined, but others did not. And Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe came and monitored elections and made a very positive statement. So the fact that the European parliament did not attend, didn’t change anything, did not influence the results and positive assessment. After that our parliament adopted the resolution. I can fully read it, but I think you are aware. Therefore, I will not touch it. And now, after that, we have what we have. One year of actually no contacts. And it happened not because of us. We still continue to work with other European organizations, with the EU, with the Council of Europe, with OSCE. But the European Parliament has decided to take this position on Azerbaijan. According to our information, it was generated by the leaders of your institution, particularly by Schulz and Lunacek, who, I don’t know why, hate Azerbaijan and try every time to damage our reputation” – said President Ilham Aliyev.
“According to our information, this resolution was adopted in violation of the procedures of the European Parliament. Some members of the European Parliament were warning members not to do it. I heard one of them said “We will lose Azerbaijan”, and probably was right. Commissioner of European Commission spoke also, warned, but they didn’t listen. And what do we have as a result? No relations, no contact. We did not create a working group in our parliament. We terminated our participation in Euronest. And that’s how it is. And we cannot just behave as if nothing happened. We need to clarify this. And we need to see what can be done in order to cross this. If this exists and nothing more happens, then what should we talk about?”, – emphasized the President.