OSCE cancels parliamentary election observation mission to Azerbaijan

“Given the restrictions that Azerbaijan was trying to impose, we didn’t feel that we could do that job properly,” OSCE Spokesperson for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Thomas Rymer tells Meydan TV.

[Michael Georg Link, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights]

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe will not observe the November 1, 2015 parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan, Michael Georg Link, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (


), said today.

The decision to cancel its observation mission is due to restrictions imposed by the Azerbaijani authorities, OSCE says.

“The restriction on the number of observers taking part would make it impossible for the mission to carry out effective and credible election observation,” the ODIHR Director said. “Regretfully, we are compelled by these actions to cancel the deployment of ODIHR’s observation mission for the parliamentary elections.”

“The Azerbaijani authorities’ insistence on a restricted number of observers is directly counter to the country’s OSCE commitments and in contradiction to ODIHR’s election observation mandate,” he added.

After receiving an invitation from the Azerbaijani authorities, an ODIHR needs assessment mission recommended the deployment of an election observation mission, including a core team of experts, 30 long-term observers and 350 short-term observers. On August 31, Azerbaijan’s Permanent Mission to the OSCE stated that the authorities were ready to accept only 6 long-term and up to 125 short-term ODIHR observers.

“With such limitations imposed, there’s no way we can do effective comprehensive observation. So rather than not being able to do our job properly, we don’t feel that it makes sense to attempt to do the job badly. We’re not sending the mission,” Thomas Rymer, OSCE Spokesperson for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, told Meydan TV.

“We think it makes sense not to send the mission at all,” Rymer added.

OSCE, however, stands ready to help Azerbaijan in “meeting the human dimension of commitments they made like human rights, democratization, rule of law, and democratic elections,” according to Rymer.

“However, if restrictions are imposed, if there’s no political will to follow through and assist us in assisting them, in making sure that the conditions are there, so that we can do our work and help OSCE participating states. then it’s impossible for us to do that work,” Rymer said.

“Pretending that we’re able to do it in this case, had we allowed these restrictions, isn’t beneficial to OSCE. It isn’t beneficial to Azerbaijan. And if we’re unable to provide that help, then that’s unfortunate. We’re ready in the future to continue to provide assistance according to our mandate but we need partners with the authorities in Azerbaijan to do that to some degree,” Rymer concluded.

Rymer noted that there was one other case in the past, when it was decided not to send the mission but the circumstances were different. “I’m not sure about the benefits of comparing things. I think what’s important is the unfortunate and regretful fact that we’ve decided today that we’re unable to carry out observation, and the specific reasons why we feel that way in this case,” he noted.

Yesterday, the European Parliament passed a resolution


the “unprecedented repression against civil society in Azerbaijan.” EU lawmakers denounced the continuous intimidation and harassment of civil society leaders and journalists, including Meydan TV Director

Emin Milli

, who has received death threats and members of whose family have been arrested on trumped-up charges, as well as journalists working with Meydan TV in Azerbaijan.

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