On September 20, President Ilham Aliyev received a delegation of the EU-Azerbaijan Parliamentary Cooperation Committee.
“Emin Milli’s claims of death threats are a lie”
Ilham Aliyev said that he hopes that the discussions would lead to further development of cooperation: “But, first of all, I want to mention what happened a year ago and to talk about the celebration of the restoration of our relationship. Today, maybe we can clarify a number of issues and plan future work. It will be a good opportunity to discuss everything very clearly. Because, unfortunately, the European Parliament adopted a resolution a year ago that caused a serious setback in our relationship. It was a very big surprise. We in Azerbaijan thought it was hostile and inaccurate; the false information was taken as an attempt steeped in hatred to damage the reputation of our country. But without clarity, it will be difficult to move forward and to plan future work. I have documents about this case. I do not know if all of you are aware of it or not, but I will assume that you do. However, I would like to highlight some of the issues. There are many questions here, but I think some of them are worth noting. Perhaps it would be better for you to learn my explanation of it.
It is said that in the past few years the human rights situation has worsened in Azerbaijan. This is not true. Azerbaijan’s human rights situation is improving. Our country is committed to democratic development and human rights. I think that the situation regarding the protection of human rights requires a more positive assessment. I do not know if this incorrect information was intentionally or mistakenly based, but there are a few issues. One of these allegations of misconduct concerned journalists and representatives of civil society being persecuted by the government.
Among them, the director of Meydan TV, Emin Milli, claims he was threatened with death. It is wrong and false. He was never threatened with death. I do not know why it is written here. Perhaps, it is still a part of the campaign against Azerbaijan.
“Emin Huseynov wrote a letter and asked me to do it”
“Human rights defender Emin Huseynov was jailed on trumped up charges after seeking asylum in Switzerland. After that, Azerbaijan revoked his citizenship. It is based on wrong information. The person who wrote me a letter and asked me to revoke his citizenship. This was in accordance with Azerbaijan’s law. He was hiding in the Embassy of Switzerland for a few months. The Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs came here to get him. In this regard, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan and the Swiss Foreign Ministry have reached an agreement. We have documents and the letter from Mr Huseynov. No one revoked his citizenship. This is a lie.
It is reported that, since 2006, there has been a ban on holding peaceful demonstrations in the center of Baku. Lie. Demonstrations have not been banned. Freedom of assembly is fully guaranteed in the country. It’s been guaranteed since 2006 and since 2006 in the center of Baku, the opposition has freely held rallies. There were a few hundred people. Why people don’t go to demonstrations is another matter. But they are peaceful and free. I can prove it to the embassy. This is also a lie,” the president said.
I can sue who wrote this, Ilham Aliyev said
“Another issue, supposedly a journalist, Rasim Aliyev, criticized president Ilham Aliyev via social networks. He received continuous threats and was mercilessly beaten and died in a hospital in Baku. It is a criminal offense charged directly at me without basis. I can sue who wrote this. Unfortunately, sports writer Rasim Aliyev’s death is a tragedy. He criticized a football player for some of his actions and was beaten by a player’s relatives and fans. They beat him and it was a tragedy. It has nothing to do with us. He wasn’t a critic and no one even knew who he was. It is a deliberate manipulation, to involve me regarding this accusation. ”
I said that if the Shakhtakhtinski work stops, the office will be close
“Here it says that Azerbaijan is targeting strategic partnerships and seeks to broaden and deepen its relations with the European Union. But we are not the only ones trying to deepen our relations with the European Union. They are also trying to deepen relations with us. Therefore, I think that the true essence of this text does not reflect our cooperation. Our European Union cooperation is based on mutual interests and mutual respect. By the way, in general, we have very good relations with the European Union. We have 9 members of the European Union who signed a declaration on strategic partnership with the country. Therefore, according to this, our relationship with the European Union is different than that of the member states and the European Parliament
It also says that the Baku office of the OSCE is to be closed, terminating the Memorandum of Understanding between the government of Azerbaijan and the OSCE by government decision in July 2015. Yes, it was terminated, however, I’m telling you this information; this was the reason. “After working in Azerbaijan for only one year, he was dismissed as a result of serious interference of the US Representative to OSCE Daniel B. Baer, who blamed him during the standing committee’s meeting for having a photo with me in his office,” said President Aliyev.
The president noted that according to the information he has, pressure was put on the French government and without any notice, the OSCE representative Shakhtakhtinsky was dismissed.
“His career was put to an end and he was dismissed from France’s Foreign Ministry just for having a photo with me,” said President Aliyev.
“What can we talk about, if the US representative to the OSCE thinks that it is a crime to take a photo with me?! What did I say?! I said that if Shakhtakhtinsky is dismissed, the office will be closed down. I warned them, but they didn’t listen and we did it. Now they want to resume the office’s operation,” said the president.
“I put forward a condition: Reinstate Shakhtakhtinsky, bring his career back, restore justice, and then we will reopen the office. That is the issue,” he added.
Referring back to the document, President Aliyev said that there is a sentence in it that Azerbaijan has closed down the office without any explanation.
“As for the Freedom House, this is an organization with which our country has no contact because of its pro-Armenian stance and constant attacks on Azerbaijan,” he added. “For many years the Freedom House has been headed by [David] Kramer, who was fired from the US Department of State because of various reasons and who has turned into one of the active critics of Azerbaijan.”
“I would like to say that reports of the Freedom House have no importance for us and I was surprised that this organization had been mentioned in this document,” said Ilham Aliyev. “This is a non-governmental organization; hundreds of such organizations publish various reports. Saying that Azerbaijan had the biggest lag in Eurasia, this organization and the European Parliament demonstrate their attitude towards Azerbaijan.”
He said the document mentions that Azerbaijan was to hold a parliamentary election in November 2015.
“The European Parliament declined to send a mission to observe the election. You declined, but others did not. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe was here, observed the election and made a very positive declaration,” he added.
“Thus, non-participation of the European Parliament didn’t change anything, didn’t affect the results and positive feedback,” President Aliyev said. “After that our parliament adopted a resolution. I can’t read it all, but I believe you are informed about it, so I won’t touch on it.”
“Now, this is the situation. Actually we have had no relations for a year. This didn’t happen because of us. We continue working with other European institutions – the European Union, the Council of Europe, and the OSCE. However, the European Parliament decided to hold this stance regarding Azerbaijan,” Ilham Aliyev said.
“According to the information we have, this document was drawn up by the heads of the organization, especially by Schulz and Lunacek, who, I don’t know why, hate Azerbaijan and try all the time to damage our reputation,” he said. “According to the information we have, this resolution was adopted in violation of the procedures of the European Parliament,” said the Azerbaijani president.
The president said some members of the European Parliament have warned the organization not to adopt the document.
“I heard one of them saying, ‘We will lose Azerbaijan.’ Maybe that is so. A commissioner of the European Commission spoke as well, made warnings, but they weren’t heard. And what happened as a result? There are no ties, no contact,” he added.
Ilham Aliyev went on to add that Azerbaijan didn’t create a working group in its parliament.
“We discontinued our activity in the Euronest. This is the situation. We can’t act as if nothing has happened. We have to clarify this. We have to look at what we can do to address this. What can we talk about if this remains the same, if nothing happens?” said the president.