Friday Wrap-up: tourism trends, EU statement and OSCE visit

Tourism. Illustration: Meydan TV

The week of August 21-25 saw tourism data in Azerbaijan, an EU statement condemning Ibadoglu’s arrest, and an OSCE representative arriving in Lachin.

Azerbaijan’s Tourism Landscape: Surge in Visitors Amidst Border Restrictions

In the first half of this year, Azerbaijan welcomed 1,143,600 foreign visitors from 183 countries, marking a notable 37.4% increase compared to the corresponding period in the previous year, as announced by the State Statistical Committee (SSC). T

The statistics revealed that the majority of these visitors, accounting for 32.8%, hailed from Russia, followed by Turkish citizens at 18.2% and Iranians at 7.4%. A significant presence was also noted from India at 4.9%, Georgia at 4.7%, Saudi Arabia at 3.9%, Kazakhstan at 2.4%, Pakistan at 2.3%, United Arab Emirates at 2.1%, Uzbekistan at 1.8%, and Israel and Ukraine both contributing 1.5%. Other countries like Belarus, Kuwait, the United Kingdom, and Turkmenistan also appeared on the list of visitors.

Despite the lifting of travel restrictions worldwide and the World Health Organization declaring an end to the pandemic, Azerbaijan continues to maintain its land borders closed, primarily due to the ongoing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. This decision has remained unchanged even in the face of mounting calls, including appeals from Georgian citizens to President Ilham Aliyev for the reopening of land borders.

European Parliament Raises Alarm on Detention and Health of Azerbaijani Economist

Marina Kaljurand, leader of the European Parliament delegation for South Caucasus, and Jeliana Zovko, permanent rapporteur for Azerbaijan, have jointly issued a statement expressing concern about the detention of prominent Azerbaijani economist Qubad Ibadoghlu.

The statement reveals apprehension regarding Ibadoghlu’s arrest and his deteriorating health. Notably, he was taken into custody on July 23, 2023, on charges of producing counterfeit currency. Family and legal representatives report that he is being denied essential food and medication.

The report emphasizes that Qubad Ibadoglu’s situation is not an isolated case. It highlights a wider pattern of human rights challenges in Azerbaijan, affecting not only him but also other political figures, journalists, and human rights defenders. The European Parliament urges Azerbaijani authorities to provide immediate medical assistance, essential medications, and his prompt release. The document also draws attention to the recent erosion of human rights and fundamental freedoms within Azerbaijan. It calls for the release of all political prisoners and the cessation of politically motivated charges.

OSCE Representative’s Visit to Kornidzor Amidst Nagorno-Karabakh Tensions

The OSCE’s Andrzej Kaspshik visited Kornidzor village on August 25, bordering Lachin, to assess the situation as per OSCE instructions. Kaspshik refrained from addressing journalists’ inquiries during his visit.

Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan raised concerns about Nagorno-Karabakh’s humanitarian situation on August 24. He noted possible plans to open the Lachin corridor for one-way movement, allowing exit but limiting entry. Pashinyan highlighted worries of ethnic cleansing and reiterated the need for dialogue to resolve security and rights issues through international mechanisms.

In related news, the UN Security Council met on August 17, following Armenia’s request, but no conclusive statement emerged. Changes to exit points from Azerbaijan’s state border were made on May 4, though no details on the alterations were provided.

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