BAKU, Azerbaijan, November 3, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --
A report to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on NGO activities in Europe, which criticises Azerbaijan, fails to deal with the issues of transparency and foreign-funding, an Azerbaijani MP said today.
The report by Luxembourg Socialist MP Yves Cruchten comes in the form of a revised introductory memorandum, which was presented to the PACE Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights last week.
Azerbaijani delegate to PACE Elkhan Suleymanov MP cautioned that the document does not provide the complete picture. On the issue of "so-called political prisoners" from some international NGOs, he said PACE needs to wait for the different report prepared by Pedro Agramunt, another PACE rapporteur of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights.
This second report, made available ahead of publication, has found the "majority of alleged political prisoners (in Azerbaijan) were imprisoned on charges of tax evasion and illegal entrepreneurship". These tax evasion matters are for the most part linked to "funding from abroad and not declaring it."
Suleymanov said: "Azerbaijan wants all financing of local NGOs by foreign sources to be transparent and therefore officially declared. This is the rule for all PACE member states.
"Cruchten said in his memorandum that he awaits the Agramunt report and I agree with this. The findings of both rapporteurs are needed for a unified approach to NGOs in Azerbaijan and any criminal cases arising from them."
Suleymanov said any list of so-called political prisoners compiled by an NGO is invariably a political and not a legal document, given that NGO members are "not judges".
He further warned that mature democracies need to appreciate just how much NGOs can destabilise a young nation with the aid of foreign benefactors. In 2009 Azerbaijan introduced its NGO reform legislation to address this very issue; something which was ignored by the Cruchten report.
"Why are activists from such a small country receiving such huge foreign grants?" Suleymanov asked. "Rapporteur Agramunt himself raised this issue."
Suleymanov agreed that two differing PACE perspectives make for a confusing outcome but, he concluded, the end result is to "shift international attention from the fact that Azerbaijani territories are under illegal occupation by another member state."
Armenia continues to occupy Nagorno-Karabakh and the seven surrounding Azerbaijani territories despite a string of international resolutions calling for it to withdraw.
SOURCE Azerbaijan Monitor