OSCE ODIHR head: Nagorno-Karabakh doesn’t have state identity to invite us to watch their elections

OSCE ODIHR head: Nagorno-Karabakh doesn’t have state identity to invite us to watch their elections

At a discussion with the Director of the OSCE ODIHR, Michael Georg Link, which took place on February 24that the German Foreign Policy Society, the problem of the correlation between the right of a nation to self-identity and the principle of the territorial integrity of countries was touched on. Thus, the head of the organization answered the question on the possibility of watching referendums by the OSCE ODIHR in certain regions of some countries, for example, in Quebec or Catalonia: “If we are invited to watch a referendum in a certain country, we can send our observers there. As for referendums in Quebec or Catalonia, we can monitor their referendums only if we receive an invitation from a member state of the OSCE. Catalonia is not a member of the OSCE, neither is Quebec. The invitation should be received either from Spain or Canada.”

A so-called ‘representative’ of the Karabakh separatists, who was present at the meeting, expressed the desire to see activity of the OSCE ODIHR on the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. But he was disillusioned by the German diplomat: “Of course Nagorno-Karabakh has no state identity to invite us to watch some elections. It is clear to us: we respect the international legal status quo and recognized international borders.”

Answering Vestnik Kavkaza’s question on the prospects of development of relations between the OSCE ODIHR and Azerbaijan after the last parliamentary elections, when the sides couldn’t agree on the number of observers, the head of the organization stated that a dialogue and constructive cooperation with the country should be provided: “Despite certain discussions and criticism by some countries of the CIS about methods of watching elections by the OSCE ODIHR, the work of the organization is based on the methodology which was adopted in 2006. And it operates today. It is a foundation which we rely on in our work.” According to Link, a big number of short-term observers and the presence of permanent observers who start monitoring of the pre-election situation two months before the elections in the country are necessary conditions for an effective work: “Of course we are sorry that we couldn’t observe the parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan last year. If the number of observers turns out to be smaller than our methodology requires, we cannot guarantee the correctness of our assessment of the monitoring results. However, we are open for a discussion on the issue. At the same time, in the end, it is an issue of changing the methodology through consensus between the countries of the OSCE,” the head of the OSCE ODIHR said. Stressing that Azerbaijan is “an especially important partner” for the OSCE ODIHR, Link stated that new joint projects will be suggested for the country. “Our cooperation will continue, notwithstanding the fact that we didn’t observe the elections last year,” the diplomat said.