European Parliament Pressuring MEPs Who Praised Azerbaijan Presidential Election, Says Baku

Feb 14, 2014, 02:47 ET from Azerbaijan Monitor

BAKU, Azerbaijan, February 14, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --

The European Parliament (EP) is said to be creating new ways to pressure Azerbaijan following news that seven MEPs who reported favourably on last year's Presidential poll now face disciplinary action.

The official reason for the probe is that they allegedly defied new guidelines for MEPs accepting travel and expenses. Under the EP rules, adopted last July, even a football ticket must now be declared in an official register.

But Azerbaijan says there is another agenda at work. The MEPs in the EP observer mission found the October poll - which re-elected President Ilham Aliyev by a landslide - to be "free, fair and transparent". This, Baku says, is a finding which sits uncomfortably with the broader anti-Azerbaijan sentiment within some of Europe's power centres.

"Although four months have passed since the elections, such claims (against some MEPs) are intentions of a number of international power centres to continue to pressure Azerbaijan in a new way and context," said Elkhan Suleymanov, Vice-President of the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly.

The EP's ethics committee can only bring action against those involved in an unofficial observer missions, therefore, said Suleymanov, it is "out of the question" that members of the official observer mission could likewise be punished.

But he added: "I consider that one of the main factors stipulating these allegations against MEPs is that the power centres, which pressure Azerbaijan, have become sure their attempts to destabilise Azerbaijan will fail. (Therefore) they try to force MEPs with an objective attitude towards Azerbaijan to review their positions by pressuring them."

Suleymanov, who campaigns on behalf of the victims of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict that displaced one million Azerbaijanis, has long been critical of the European Parliament's dismissiveness of Armenia's continued occupation of 20 percent of Azerbaijan's territory - despite resolutions from bodies including the United Nations and the European Parliament itself.

But while the international community remains committed to a negotiated settlement via the Minsk group, European Parliament President Martin Schultz last year appeared to wash his hands of the issue by saying "Azerbaijan and Armenia themselves should solve this complex issue."

Suleymanov maintains a just settlement can only come through the renewed interest of the international community - and this includes the European Parliament.

SOURCE Azerbaijan Monitor