Yesterday November 20, during this year’s General Assembly of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum held in Batumi, an Azerbaijani delegation reportedly ripped off several posters showing the names of the political prisoners in Azerbaijan. Sponsored by the EU, the event is described as “the highest decision-making body of the Forum”.
Ripped posters were prepared by the Czech non-governmental organization Nesenhuti and brought to Batumi by another Czech non-for-profit People in Need. With operational offices in several countries around the world People in Need focuses on a number of issues, human rights, education and humanitarian aid and development to name a few.
The delegation responsible for the damage described posters unfair as many other countries who are members of the Forum face similar issues and pointing a finger at just one was discriminatory. And while it would have been sufficient to voice this concern the delegation tore down some of the posters and accused the Czech organization of being part of an Armenian lobby.
The Steering Committee of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum issued a statement shortly after the incident condemning the behavior of some of the Forum’s Azerbaijan delegation members.
Gerald Knaus, founder of the European Stability Initiative, Berlin-based think tank focusing on the Caucasus, Balkans and Turkey was one of the panelists at the opening session of the Forum. When commenting on the ripped posters, Knaus said those posters were actually damaged while people were in session, while no one could see it.
Today, November 21 the Forum will finalize its meeting.