ROME, September 16, 2015 /PRNewswire/ --
A prominent Italian politician who is vocal on European issues says the coming elections in Azerbaijan offer a chance for European institutions to show there are no double standards in their treatment of the country and to instead, "positively contribute to the election process".
Five million Azeris are set to go to the polls in the November 1st Parliamentary elections, but Luca Volontè, the former President of the European People's Party in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, says Europe's institutions and the media ignore the fact that thousands of Azeris are being denied their democratic rights in Armenian-occupied Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding territories.
He said even the Official Representative of the Council of Europe, Bob Walter, has been denied access to the occupied territories but, regrettably, there is "not a word about this in Europe".
And the visiting election observers will not be able to visit any of the Armenia-occupied territories, something Volontè believes is another missed opportunity.
He further fears that in the wake of the jailing of journalist Khadija Ismayilova earlier this month, the media will conflate judicial matters and the electoral process.
"Unfortunately recent controversies triggered by western media indicate double standards and partisan evaluations could be employed in the Azeri elections," he said.
Volontè, who is outspoken on family and social justice issues, believes some of the official election observers will arrive in Baku having pre-judged the poll despite the fact that both European Parliament and PACE observers found the 2013 Presidential election to be a "free, fair and transparent electoral process."
"There are reasonable fears that some international spheres are trying to discredit the next free and democratic elections in Azerbaijan, even before they take place," he said.
"By doing this, Europe and international bodies are losing a great opportunity to positively contribute to the elections process and the reforms in Azerbaijan."
In all, given European rhetoric against Baku and recent media coverage, Volontè has concluded the "prejudice of western countries towards Azeri institutions will have only one victim: the credibility of Europe."
Azerbaijan has reassured visiting observers from PACE that it will again be conducting a "free, fair and transparent" election and asks the visiting media only that it give the process fair coverage.
SOURCE Azerbaijan Monitor