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BAKU: US Helsinki Commission Held A Briefing On Democracy And Electi

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  • BAKU: US Helsinki Commission Held A Briefing On Democracy And Electi


    Azeri Report
    May 24 2012

    WASHINGTON, DC. May 24. Yesterday, the US Commission for Security
    and Cooperation in Europe, also known as Helsinki Commission,
    held a briefing on "Democratization in the Caucasus: Elections in
    Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia" in the US Congress. The expert
    panelists presenting before the Commission included Tom de Waal of
    Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Dr. Cory Welt of George
    Washington University, Christopher Walker of Freedom House, Stephen
    Nix of International Republican Institute, and Anthony Bowyer of
    International Foundation for Electoral Systems.

    Comparing the countries of the Caucasus region, the panelists
    noted that although all three have serious problems with democratic
    development, the conditions in Georgia are generally better than in
    Armenia and Azerbaijan, with Azerbaijan having the most authoritarian
    regime. Among the facts concerning Azerbaijan, the presenters noted
    wholesale falsifications of previous elections, serious violations
    of human rights, absence of free speech and free assembly, severe
    restrictions and attacks on media and political activists. Specific
    cases of blackmail against the Radio Liberty reporter Khadija Ismail
    and brutal beating of the journalist Idrak Abbasov by the security
    forces of the State Oil Company (SOCAR) were highlighted as recent
    examples. Azerbaijan's ranking among the worst in the world on human
    rights and democracy, alongside African countries, was also mentioned.

    One of the representatives from Azerbaijani-Americans for Democracy
    (AZAD) attending the briefing stated that the ruling Aliyev regime
    shows no interest in holding free and fair elections, as evidenced
    by the previous electoral cycles in the country, and asked whether
    it would make more sense for the US government and Congress to
    exert pressure on the Azerbaijani government well in advance of
    the upcoming elections in 2013. AZAD has also sent a letter to the
    Helsinki Commission recommending that such pressure needs to be
    applied for creating necessary conditions during the pre-elections
    period and the legitimacy of elections failing to meet at least
    the minimal international standards should not be recognized by the
    international community.

    A representative from Azerbaijani Embassy in the US disagreed with
    everyone else on the subject of Azerbaijan and said that the current
    government provides all the freedoms and the country is making a
    great progress (Azerireport).