European Parliament to Respect Azerbaijan's Referendum Results

Sep 12, 2016, 03:17 ET from Azerbaijan Monitor

BAKU, Azerbaijan, September 12, 2016 /PRNewswire/ --

The European Parliament will respect the results of the upcoming constitutional referendum in Azerbaijan, according to the Vice-President of the European Parliament, Ryszard Czarnecki.

"We will respect the result of this referendum," Czarnecki told reporters in Baku, "because for us the will of your nation is the most important."

Czarnecki joined a delegation representing the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists (AECR), which also comprised Italian and Polish members of the European Parliament. During their visit to Baku, they met with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev as well as other key officials.

The AECR delegation issued a statement in which it "concluded that the referendum is being organised according to the laws of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Constitutional changes are broadly discussed in the public, and the preparations of the vote are in line with international standards."

The statement further noted that "the changes foreseen, if adopted, are expected by all stakeholders and political leaders of the different parties to increase democratic participation and representation, but also to streamline the functioning of state administration."

On September 26, over five million Azerbaijani voters will be asked whether they approve of 29 constitutional amendments, with a separate vote on each one. Among the key changes proposed are an extension of the presidential term from five to seven years as well as the introduction of the new position of First Vice President, who would become the country's number two, instead of the Prime Minister as is the case now.

In addition, the minimum age for presidential candidates (currently 35) would be abolished and anyone over 18 could now stand for parliament, bringing the lower age limit down from 25.

The changes "will have far reaching effects on the democratic life of Azerbaijan, on the way citizens will be represented in the legislative and on the dynamic and size of the executive," the AECR statement noted, adding that "the delegation welcomes the electoral process and preparation of the vote in order to ensure that the political plurality of the country will be safeguarded."

Expressing hope that the Azerbaijani government will continue close cooperation with the Venice Commission on the constitutional changes, the delegation further observed that "the atmosphere in the country is found to be stable and peaceful, with a calm pre-referendum period."

SOURCE Azerbaijan Monitor