Baku Warns of the Risks That Come With Europe's Negativity Towards Azerbaijan

Aug 21, 2015, 09:57 ET from Azerbaijan Monitor

BAKU, Azerbaijan, August 21, 2015 /PRNewswire/ --

Persistent negativity by the European Parliament (EP) directed towards Azerbaijan risks alienating an "important partner" and its people, Baku has warned, after recent comments by EP President Martin Schulz.

Schulz was commenting on last week's sentencing in Azerbaijan of Leyla and Arif Yunus on financial mismanagement and tax charges. His comments were seized upon by an Azerbaijani MP who said they amount to an attack on the judiciary of a free and sovereign nation.

"If you believe Azerbaijan 'is an important partner' then act accordingly," said Elkhan Suleymanov, Chairman of the Azerbaijani delegation to the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly, in a letter to the EP dated Wednesday August 19th.

"How would you react if the Azeri Parliament would constantly call for the release from jails of various German citizens, tried and sentenced under German laws?"

On the issue of the Azerbaijani criminal code, Suleymanov said the Azerbaijani tax policy is no tougher than that of EU Member States, including Germany. "If those charged with tax crimes are found guilty, they are sentenced in accordance with the severity of their crime".

And on the specific issue of the Yunus' incarceration, he told Schulz that all prisoners in Azerbaijan are treated according the highest standards of humanitarian law.

"The health of Ms. Yunus and any other prisoners is monitored and medical assistance is always available. More than this, there have been repeated cases of presidential pardons in relation to many ill prisoners in recent years," he added.

Beyond the recent Yunus issue, Suleymanov has long been critical of the EP and its "attacks, resolutions and declarations" against his nation, which he warned in late 2014 cast a "grave shadow" over its objectivity.

He said this is particularly irritating to the Azeri people, given they are also told by Europe what an important partner Azerbaijan is in the areas of energy security, regional diplomacy and the fight against terrorism.

When all they hear is a wall of criticism from Europe, he said "the general population will perceive it as EU mingling in our own, internal matters".

SOURCE Azerbaijan Monitor