Azerbaijan Silenced as it Questions "Illegitimate" Election in Neighbouring Armenia

Mar 21, 2013, 09:10 ET from Azerbaijan Monitor

PARIS, March 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

Azerbaijan was silenced at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on Wednesday after one of its delegates was heckled and then barred from speaking while addressing the committee on the recent election in neighbouring Armenia.

Azerbaijani delegate, Elkhan Suleymanov, was speaking on the election that returned to power Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, a former military commander linked to the massacre of civilians in the town of Khojaly, Azerbaijan, on 26th February of 1992.

Azerbaijan has branded his re-election "illegitimate" given his role in the massacre and due to Armenia's continued occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh that has displaced one million Azerbaijanis. Despite numerous resolutions by the UN, PACE, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the European Parliament, Armenia continues to occupy 20 percent of its neighbour's territory.

Just two minutes into his speech, Suleymanov was interrupted by Armenian delegates and was then stunned to see the Chairman of the PACE Monitoring Committee, Andres Herkel, effectively side with the hecklers by cutting short Suleymanov's speech.

"I was angered and amazed," Suleymanov said afterwards, adding that he was "only going to speak for three minutes on a day when other debates occupied more than three hours."

More than the interruptions by the Armenian delegates, Azerbaijan is disappointed with the actions of Herkel, which it says brings into question his independence as Chairman.

"It seems like Mr. Herkel is openly giving support to Armenia," Suleymanov said.

He added that he wants to clarify this incident "in the interest of the credibility of our organisation and the firm application of a good democratic practice" because his nation takes very seriously institutions such as PACE as a forum for working through issues affecting regional peace and stability.

Azerbaijan believes the election of President Sargsyan in Armenia will do nothing to promote the peace process. He was returned to power in a poll that involved one candidate embarking on a hunger strike to protest campaign violations and another being shot and wounded in an attempted assassination.

SOURCE Azerbaijan Monitor