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2016, 09 Dekabr, Cümə, Bakı vaxtı 19:35

Job Dismissals, Failed Presidential Promises, And More Diplomatic Scandal: Azerbaijan Brief


Ilham Aliyev (12 october, 2016)

Ilham Aliyev (12 october, 2016)

After 11 years of service, Azerbaijan's Minister of Security discharged

October 17, the Minister of National Security, Eldar Mahmudov was dismissed from his position.

The order was signed by President Ilham Aliyev upon his return from the Commonwealth of Independent States Summit in Kazakhstan. No specific reasons were stated for the decision in the order.

Mahmudov was appointed Minister of National Security in 2004.

President Aliyev's 2013 promises two years later

Two years ago president Ilham Aliyev was elected for a third term. During his presidential campaign, he made a number of promises. AzadliqRadiosu spoke to a number of Azerbaijani experts to investigate whether these promises were fulfilled.

Political scientist Zardusht Alizade says most of the promises remained on paper especially when it comes to the country’s foreign policy. “Azerbaijan’s success in its foreign policy remains “1” on the successful policy scale. If Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity was restored and there was no more international criticism then one could say the foreign policy was successful. Lenin used to say, ‘where there is corruption, there is no politics’. In Azerbaijan’s context, corruption is the goal of the country’s political state.”

Similarly, on the economic front, there has been little progress. Not according to the give promises anyway. President Aliyev promised twice the economic grwoth and expansion of the non-oil sector. But according to the economist Natig Jafarli, things aren’t looking so good for Azerbaijan. “When President Aliyev made this promise, the oil prices were twice the price they are at present. With current oil prices, not only it is going to be impossible to talk about double growth for this year but until 2018 at best.”

But President Aliyev thinks otherwise. During the most recent meeting with cabinet ministers he spoke about Azerbaijan’s fast economic growth, economic diversity and the overall GDP spike despite the drop in oil prices. In addition, in all his previous speeches and remarks, Ilham Aliyev dismissed criticisms of the country’s poor democratic ratings and gross violation of human rights, calling such statements nonsense.

PACE President deeply concerned of the situation in Azerbaijan

On October 16, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Anne Brasseur informed President Aliyev of her concerns over the deteriorating democracy, human rights and the rule of law records in Azerbaijan.

Recalling Azerbaijan’s obligations and commitments to the Council of Europe, the President listed in particular four “worrying developments” in her letter addressing the President Aliyev:

  • A series of recent court decisions sentencing human rights activists and journalists to strikingly long prison terms. “These judicial decisions are producing a chilling effect on freedom of expression and pluralism in Azerbaijan, in violation of the country’s obligations and commitments to the Council of Europe,” she wrote.
  • Cases of harassment and humiliation as well as physical attacks against human rights defenders and civil society activists in detention. Citing the cases of Ilgar Mammadov and Intigam Aliyev, as well as the condition of Leyla and Arif Yunus, Ms Brasseur urged the President to intervene to end such intimidation of prisoners.
  • Azerbaijan’s failure to execute the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Ilgar Mammadov, which required Mr Mammadov’s release. Ms Brasseur urged Mr Aliyev to “take the necessary steps with your authorities in order to remedy this failure”.
  • Azerbaijan’s failure to address a series of recommendations – both from the Assembly and from the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission – concerning the organisation of democratic elections. Ms Brasseur again urged action on these recommendations to ensure that the 1 November 2015 vote “is held in accordance with Council of Europe standards”.

Meydan TV’s reporter finally released

On September 16, Shirin Abbasov, Meydan TV reporter was sentenced to 30 days in administrative detention for "resisting police" and "swearing".

Abbasov’s lawyer Elchin Sadigov said he was not allowed to see his client for a long time and even was informed that Abbasov declined Sadigov’s assistance.

The journalist was released October 16.

His lawyer says they will take Abbasov’s case to the European Court of Human Rights contesting the decision to sentence Abbasov to administrative arrest in the first place.

Azerbaijan’s very own diplomatic saga continues

A man who once worked with Azerbaijan’s former ambassador to Brussels Arif Mammadov, does not want to return to Azerbaijan despite prosecutor’s requests.

Samir Ismayilov, a diplomat who was at the time Mammadov’s assistant is likely to sign papers in the criminal case launched against the former ambassador thinks Mammadov. But Mammadov fears if Ismayilov returns to Azerbaijan, he will be forced to approve falsified information or persecuted himself.

So far Samir Ismayilov has not made any statements while AzadliqRadiosu’s attempts to speak to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs failed.

Earlier, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Elmar Mammadyarov said anyone who violates the ethics of government employee code, abuses his/her diplomatic status will be held responsible for their actions.

But Azerbaijan’s former ambassador to Russia Hikmat Hajizada says there is no belief into just and fair investigation of the embassy staff in the on-going investigation.

“Anyone can be called for questioning during the on-going investigation, no matter where they work. However, the fear of biased and unjust investigation is stronger and so those who have been invited for questioning regarding this case choose to seek political asylum in Europe instead.”

This growing trend of Azerbaijan’s diplomats and embassy staff seeking asylum in Europe is similar to “black PR” says former diplomat.

“We are basically telling the word, this is what's happening in Azerbaijan. We are telling them we have unjust judiciary, unjust investigation processes and that people get arrested unjustly too. This is extremely unpleasant for the country’s image”.

Suddent change of mind

In a more recent developmnet, almost 400 parliamentary candidates have retracted their candidacies in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

During the first wave, the head of the Central Election Committee (CEC) Mazahir Panahov said the candidates withdrew their applications voluntarily.

Only one candidate spoke on the decision to withdraw. Erking Gadirli, member of the REAL movement said he withdrew his candidacy as a sign of protest as REAL's leader Ilgar Mammadov is in prison.

Until the withdrawal CEC registered 1246 candidates.

Azerbaijan's parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place November 1.

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