STRASBOURG, France, June 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ --
The co-author of a report calling for political and judicial reforms in Azerbaijan has told European MPs that the Nagorno-Karabakh occupation is a "gospel truth" that overshadows everything else in the nation, including political decision-making and the reform process.
Polish MP Tadeusz Iwinski was the PACE co-rapporteur, along with Spain's Pedro Agramunt, tasked with investigating the nation's democratic institutions ahead of the November parliamentary elections.
He successfully fought off Armenian-led attempts to have all references to the conflict redacted from the 23-page document when it was debated at the PACE Summer session in Strasbourg Tuesday.
"The war over Nagorno-Karabakh that started in 1992 resulted in the occupation of 20 percent of Azerbaijani territory with more than one million IDPs," he said after the session.
"The issue of Nagorno-Karabakh overshadows everything (in Azerbaijan)."
His report made it clear that Azerbaijan has more to do in terms of legal, political and electoral reform but he added optimistically: "I see some progress."
PACE delegate and Azerbaijani MP Elkhan Suleymanov acknowledged his country's foreign policy is dominated by the occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh. The developments in Ukraine, he said, have further destabilised the region.
Suleymanov criticised the relentless international pressure Azerbaijan faces on two fronts: International silence on Nagorno-Karabakh yet a chorus of criticism about democracy and reform.
"The rapporteurs' report is realistic about the political development of a nation with less than 25 years of democratic history after seven decades of Soviet rule," he said.
"To have removed all references to an occupation that to this day blights the lives of so many people would have been an injustice in itself."
Officially, the international community pins its hopes of ending the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on the OSCE Minsk group but Iwinski was dismissive of its chances after two decades of trying.
"The OSCE Minks Group is dead," he said. "What you see is the status quo."
That, he added, means Nagorno-Karabakh will continue to cast its shadow over Azerbaijani politics and society for years to come.
In early November Azerbaijan will hold Parliamentary elections and Baku has invited an observer delegation from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), promising a "free and fair poll", as was the finding of the joint PACE / European Parliament mission after the 2013 Presidential election.
SOURCE Azerbaijan Monitor