Statement on the European Parliament election observation mission to Azerbaijan
A European Parliament/Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) election observation mission recently travelled to Azerbaijan, to observe the country's presidential elections.
Hannes Swoboda, president of the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament, commented on the mission's outcome:
"The S&D Group in the European Parliament is distancing itself from the findings of the EP/PACE election observation mission of the recent presidential elections in Azerbaijan.
"The S&D Group is of the opinion that the differences between the EP/PACE assessment and the OSCE/ODHIR evaluation are so striking that the EP/PACE findings cannot be endorsed as they are based solely on an ad-hoc, short-term evaluation. The OSCE/ODHIR mission's findings were based on more substantial experience and time on the ground.
"We come to this conclusion on the basis of longer-term developments and especially the conditions ahead of the elections: There are severe restrictions on the freedom of assembly and expression. Dozens of activists and journalists in Azerbaijan -including a presidential candidate - are wrongfully imprisoned for their political activities.
"I deplore the fact that some MEPs felt the need to undertake parallel individual missions without an institutional mandate. This June, the European Parliament adopted a critical resolution on the situation of human rights in Azerbaijan. The S&D Group takes the view that this resolution accurately reflects the official position of the institution."