OSCE ODIHR rejects objective data
On November 1st, 700 international observers will observe the parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan, they will mainly represent the CIS countries. Moreover, representatives of European state and international organizations will be among the observers. However, the Executive Secretary of the ruling party Eni Azerbaijan, Ali Ahmedov, says that representatives of the OSCE ODIHR have refused to observe the elections.
The speaker of the parliament, Oktay Asadov, explained that Baku and the human right activists didn’t agree on methodology. The ODIHR intended to send 400 observers to Azerbaijan, the same number which was sent to Ukraine. The population of Ukraine is 45 million people, while only 9 million people live in Azerbaijan. Turkey has 80 million citizens, but the ODIHR has sent only 18 observers there. Baku asked for an explanation of the methodology of such calculations, but the ODIHR decided not to send observers at all, as Azerbaijan wasn’t ready to receive them, they said.
Stanislav Pritchin, Researcher of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, doesn’t understand how the Europeans will get information on the elections without the ODIHR: “The OSCE ODIHR is virtually the only and the most effective international instrument of election observation, which involves sending several hundred observers to virtually all areas, in order to have a full picture as to whether the election corresponds to the standards, which are set as a model.” According to the expert, the OSCE refused to observe the elections because of the conflict over the OSCE Office in Baku.
Ahead of shutting down the Baku office of the OSCE, the project coordinator of the organization in Azerbaijan, Alexis Shakhtakhtinsky, was dismissed. The official reason for this was the end of his term of activity. Later, the unofficial reason was voiced: a conflict between the French diplomat and the American representative in the OSCE, Daniel Baer, who criticized Shakjtakhtinsky for a photo taken of him with the President of Azerbaijan. Baku considered that the dismissal of the coordinator showed that the OSCE wasn’t coping with the many tasks which the organization had. Thus, Baku believes there is no need for an OSCE office in the country.
“Now it is quite difficult to predict how and based on what the OSCE ODIHR will make their statements and evaluations. Because in general, they will have virtually no factual material on which it is possible to make a decision on whether the elections corresponded to democratic standards that are accepted in the West or not. And that is why, according to preliminary estimates, of course, you can expect criticism from Western structures, which traditionally try to use it as a pressure mechanism,” Pritchin says.
According to him, based on the degree of criticism and the level of criticism which will be heard regarding Azerbaijan, the format of Russian-Azerbaijani relations will depend on this. That is, if the criticism will be overwhelming, then Azerbaijan would have no choice but to develop further cooperation with regional players. Iran, Turkey and Russia as well. Therefore I return to my original thesis that a negative impact, in any circumstances and with any choice of the Azerbaijani people, perhaps, should not be expected. And our relations will develop in the same way,” the expert said.