BAKU: OSCE not to force Azeri authorities to fulfil commitments

OSCE not to force Azeri authorities to fulfil commitments, British MP says

Turan news agency, Baku
27 Apr 04

The Council of Europe and the OSCE will not force Azerbaijan to fulfil
its commitments to the organizations, President of the OSCE
Parliamentary Assembly Bruce George has told the Azerbaijani news
agency Turan. Decisions on democracy must be made by the Azerbaijani
people and the traditions of Western democracies may appear alien to
the South Caucasus countries, George said. He added that the
counterterrorism contribution of Azerbaijan played a decisive role in
its relations with the USA and the UK but should not overshadow
development of the rule of law. The following is the text of report by
Azerbaijani news agency Turan; subheadings inserted editorially:

Baku, 27 April: The president of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and
head of the British-Azerbaijani parliamentary group, Bruce George, has
answered some questions concerning bilateral relations and commented
on domestic political developments in Azerbaijan in the course of his
conversation with the head of the Vatan society, Murad Hasanli.

The OSCE’s view on 2003 presidential election

Asked about the OSCE’s assessment of the 2003 presidential election in
Azerbaijan, George said that the reports of the short-term and
long-term missions point to the presence of several “areas” which must
be “strongly” criticized. They were followed by an OSCE BDIHR [Bureau
for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights] mission which had
numerous meetings with the leadership of Azerbaijan. During the
meetings the delegation expressed their concern about “weakness” of
the laws during the election and about the way the election was
conducted. The people of Azerbaijan have to decide themselves how to
conduct the next election and one can only hope that they will conform
to international standards.

Does the international community recognize the incumbent government of
Azerbaijan in the light of the opposition’s statements about the
government being illegitimate because of falsifications?

George replied that the election did have some “deficiencies”, but it
is up to the Azerbaijani political system to decide whether it wants
democratic elections. As for the BDIHR, OSCE, Council of Europe,
individual governments and organizations, they “may only play their
role in carrying out some changes. However, demands of those changes
have to come from within Azerbaijan,” he said. The West cannot
“impose” its standards on others and each country has to make its own

Considerable differences between Azerbaijan and Georgia

Some observers reckon that the West displayed double standards when
assessing the elections in Azerbaijan and Georgia. What can be said in
this regard?

There is a considerable difference between Georgia and Azerbaijan,
George said. Although there were irregularities in each of the two
countries, the parliamentary election in Georgia was more “deficient”
than the presidential election in Azerbaijan. There was an appropriate
response from the population. Moreover, many international
organizations and NGOs had worked well in Georgia in order to form the
basis of the civil society.

Describing his view of the present political situation in Azerbaijan
in the light of repression against the opposition and stifling the
independent mass media, and speaking of possible ways of involvement
of the international community, George said that he would not
intervene in the domestic affairs of Azerbaijan at this juncture. As a
president of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, “my role is very limited
and I do not want to be viewed as an instrument of this or that
group”, he said.

OSCE will not force Azerbaijan to fulfil commitments

Asked whether the OSCE will “force” Azerbaijan to fulfill its
commitments to the Council of Europe and the OSCE, George said that
these organizations do not practise forcing anyone. In his words, the
Council of Europe and the OSCE are more inclined to assist through
education and recommendations. It is up to the countries themselves,
as to how useful these methods will prove for them. “I do not intend
to intervene in the confrontation between the Azerbaijani authorities
and the opposition for the decision has to be taken within the

In his opinion, many standards of the European Union and NATO may seem
too harsh and yet the countries of Eastern and Central Europe have
decided to comply with them. The situation in the South Caucasus
countries is somewhat different and the traditions of Western
democracies appear alien to them. “We can assist only provided that
the country is willing to come nearer to democratic standards,” he

Asked whether the election in Azerbaijan has affected the talks on the
Nagornyy-Karabakh conflict, George did not give an unambiguous
answer. He reckons that in both countries the people who can settle
the conflict must win the elections. Further, he talked about his
intention to visit Azerbaijan and Armenia. He wished that a mutually
acceptable resolution be found and that the OSCE Minsk Group become
more active.

Counterterrorism contribution of Azerbaijan

Speaking about Azerbaijan’s contribution to the fight against
international terrorism, Bruce George said that this contribution has
played a decisive role in relations of Azerbaijan with the USA and the
UK. Still, this contribution should not “overshadow” development of
constitutionalism and rule of law in the South Caucasus countries.