New Europe newspaper publishes special report on Azerbaijani parliamentary elections

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Baku, November 24, AZERTAC

New Europe newspaper has published a 16-page special report on the parliamentary elections held in Azerbaijan on November 1.

The report features a statement of a PACE observation mission, which described the elections as “calm and peaceful". "Based on the observations of the Mission and meetings with other stakeholders, it can be stated that the preparation for the elections and the voting processes were professionally and technically well organized," the report quotes the PACE mission as saying. “Observers noted improvements in the access of voters to information, the inclusiveness of voter registration and the quality of electoral materials. The elections were held in accordance with the Election Code of Azerbaijan, which provides a legal framework for the democratic conduct of elections." The mission says the election was calm and peaceful across the country. “The voting process was observed to be adequate and generally in line with international standards. Voters had full and unimpeded access to polling stations and there were no incidents reported by the observers. The observation mission therefore congratulates the Azerbaijani people for their peaceful and orderly conduct during this electoral process. The Central Election Commission contributed to the transparency of the process by releasing updates from the opening of the polls until the end of the counting and tabulation of the results."

The report highlights remarks by international observers. "A number of polls I went to they had video cameras," said Canadian Member of Parliament Percy Downe. "It`s really professional work. Typical like other European countries," notes Polish Member of Parliament Mariusz Antoni Kaminski. Polish Parliamentarian Tadeusz Iwinski calls Azerbaijan “one of the most stable European countries". "Azerbaijan`s parliamentary elections should be example for the region," says head of the Observation Mission from the European Strategic Intelligence and Security Centre Claude Monique.

The report includes an exclusive interview of Jason Katz, the principal of the U.S.-based Tool Shed Group, a consultancy that advises foreign governments, including the government of Azerbaijan, with AZERTAC. Katz hails the parliamentary elections in the country as "very transparent". "I think that the elections were extremely well organized," Katz says. "I had the opportunity to visit four separate polling places as part of the larger delegation of observers. I was impressed. I think that the process was very open, extremely organized. And I think there were some aspects of your election process that we in America can also learn from. I thought that was brilliant." He hails the preparedness of workers at polling stations. "I think that the poll workers were extremely well trained, better than most of our poll workers in America, in fact. They knew exactly how the process worked. I think that there were very transparent elections. There was no question that I posed to the election workers or the election commission representatives that was not answered in an honest and forthright manner."

In the interview, Katz also shares his views about Azerbaijan`s accomplishments. "The development of Azerbaijan has been amazing. On the business side of it, Azerbaijan has deep ties to both America and the European countries. But just in terms of the development of society, the government has done quite superlative job building the civil structures necessary for a stable nation and emerging democracy."

The report also highlights Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev`s meetings with a delegation of members of the Australian Parliament led by member of the House of Representatives Luke Simpkins, a delegation led by Speaker of the Parliament of Malta Anglu Farrugia, a Pakistani delegation led by Chairman of the Senate Defense Committee Mushahid Hussain Syed, as well as co-chairman of the Standing Committee of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties Chung Eui-yon and others.

The edition also features remarks by Ali Hasanov, the Azerbaijani President's Aide for Public and Political Affairs, on results of the elections, as well as on the refusal of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights to send its observers to Azerbaijan.

“Contrary to the forecasts of some Western circles, no any violation of law was registered in the polling stations during the November 1 parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan, "The government of Azerbaijan invited the OSCE ODIHR to send its monitoring mission to the parliamentary elections, and has repeatedly expressed its openness and readiness to discuss the activity of the mission. Unfortunately, the OSCE ODIHR did not recognize the true value of this initiative and unilaterally refused to send a mission to Azerbaijan," Hasanov says.

"We consider this a politicized decision which contradicts the charter and principles of the OSCE. By this move ODIHR set a very negative precedent in the election observation practice." The Presidential Aide notes that the government of Azerbaijan is fulfilling all its international obligations and commitments in accordance with the country's laws, and is ready to continue equal, mutually fruitful cooperation with the organizations it is a member of. "At the same time, Azerbaijan is an independent, rapidly developing state. Azerbaijan has never built its policy based on others' wishes, and will remain committed to its position that any attempts by any forces to impose their will on it are unacceptable," he says.

The special report also highlights the Contract of the Century and developments in Azerbaijan`s oil and gas sector such as Shah Deniz Stage 2 and the Southern Gas Corridor, the development of large petrochemical projects like the Oil and Gas Processing Complex.

New Europe is the leading EU affairs newspaper. The only independent newspaper, published weekly, New Europe provides the most important news and analysis concerning European Union politics, EU policy making, and political and policy interactions that take place in the global arena. Published since 1993, New Europe fosters transparency, democracy, dialogue, and debate.

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