PACE decision limits Azerbaijani delegation’s voting rights amidst concerns over democracy and human rights

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In a session held on January 24, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) voted to suspend the voting rights of the Azerbaijani delegation until the January 2025 PACE session. The decision, outlined in Resolution No. 15 898, was approved with 76 votes in favor, 10 against, and 4 abstentions.

During the discussions leading up to the decision, concerns were raised about media freedom in Azerbaijan, citing the arrest of journalists associated with “AbzasMedia.” While the journalists face smuggling accusations, they assert that their arrests are linked to their professional activities, particularly their corruption investigations.

Notable incidents, including the Tartar Case and the arrest of economist Professor Gubad Ibadoglu, were highlighted during the debate. Supporters of the decision, including Norway, Ireland, Croatia, Germany, Luxembourg, France, and Iceland, deemed it fair and necessary, emphasizing the importance of addressing alleged human rights violations.

However, Ukrainian MP Oleksey Goncharenko opposed the decision, expressing concerns that only Russia would benefit from Azerbaijan’s loss of voting rights. He suggested giving Azerbaijan a chance instead of restricting its participation.

During his speech, MP Frank Schwabe urged support for Morgen Jensen’s report, emphasizing obligations concerning democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in Azerbaijan. Schwabe also raised concerns about political prisoners in Azerbaijan, citing the case of Professor Gubad Ibadoglu, who was arrested for “telling the truth.”

Morgen Jensen, addressing the arrest of journalists, asserted that the decision to suspend Azerbaijan’s voting rights was primarily due to the lack of cooperation and denial of access to the country for observers. He emphasized the obligation of Azerbaijan to invite an observation mission as part of PACE’s responsibilities.

In response to the decision, the Azerbaijani delegation issued a statement, announcing the suspension of cooperation with PACE. The statement condemned what they perceived as threats and blackmail, describing PACE’s behavior as “shameful.”

Morgen Jensen, noting Azerbaijan’s mention in 14 resolutions related to human rights violations, expressed hope for the country’s future cooperation with PACE, stating, “The door is open.” He called on the Azerbaijani delegation to fulfill its obligations to ensure a return to the Parliamentary Assembly.

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