Baku 'regrets' EU statement on opposition rally

Tue 12 Apr 2011 04:29 GMT | 08:29 Local Time

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A senior official at the Azerbaijani Presidential Administration has commented on a range of issues in an interview with online Yurd TV.

Novruz Mammadov, head of the International Relations Department at the Presidential Administration, was asked for his response to the EU and OSCE statement of concern at the dispersal of an opposition demonstration in Baku on 2 April and the arrest of a large number of participants.

"The statement issued by the OSCE and the European Union about the 2 April rally caused me surprise and regret. It was regrettable that two such leading organizations were so serious about such a minor event. I am very concerned about why these organizations took such a sensitive approach to this issue and why. Unfortunately, I didn’t see an unbiased approach in this regard," Mammadov said.

"If the representatives of the EU member states and members of the OSCE Permanent Council had got together and objectively analysed the event, they would have expressed a fairer position," the senior official noted.

"But the main point is that Azadlig newspaper reported on the day of the rally through its correspondents that 250-300 people had gathered in Baku. But I am worried that if someone wants to express their opinion, they should gather in the same area. But what happened here? Ten to 15 people gathered in groups in crowded places and staged a riot with elements of vandalism. What did they want to achieve by this? Did the embassies of the EU countries in Baku fail to see the truth? Unfortunately, they turned a blind eye and interpreted what happened in a different way. They could at least have mentioned that the Azerbaijani government allocated a venue for mass meetings. Why didn't they go there? If they had, it would have been clearly seen how many people stand behind the radical opposition in Azerbaijan. Today the radical opposition understands that it cannot achieve any major changes," Mammadov continued.

The opposition had rejected the rally venues proposed by the Baku authorities, as they were neither central nor easy to reach on public transport.


On the conflict with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh, Novruz Mammadov said that Azerbaijan expected the West to display a fair position on a resolution of the conflict.

"Azerbaijan has lived in conditions of war for over 20 years. Twenty percent of the country’s territory has been occupied by a neighbouring state. The international community has acknowledged this to a certain extent. Azerbaijan's territorial integrity is also recognized by all international organizations. But the main issue here is that we have a right to expect justice from Europe, because Europe presents itself as a true guardian of fair values. Unfortunately, this fact raises many questions. There are people who run organizations like the UN and the OSCE. Why was the OSCE established? This organization is required for cooperation and security. These are its original duties.

"But the question is why was it necessary to state that several hundred people had gathered in Baku. Since this organization is engaged in security issues, why does it not make a similar statement that 20% of Azerbaijani territory has been occupied by a neighbouring state? But it does not, and we are very concerned about the reasons. The West is always talking about fundamental values. And justice is the basis of these values, but unfortunately, this is forgotten," he said.

Mammadov hoped that OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, mediating a settlement to the Karabakh conflict, would make tougher demands on Armenia side during their current visit to the region.

Asked about his hopes for the co-chairs' visit following the killing of an Azerbaijani boy by an Armenian sniper earlier in March, Mammadov said that his expectations "concern events on the front line, as you noted, the need for an investigation into the murder of a small boy by a sniper. The demonstration by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs of a fair position, reflecting the reality of the situation is very important, not only for Azerbaijan but for them themselves and for the whole world. 

"However, I regret to say that we have yet to see a comprehensive investigation into these issues that would fully and without bias reflect the situation. But I think we should be optimistic on this as this is the will of the Azerbaijani people and our president. We are ready to do our utmost to enforce our will and I am sure that we will achieve our objectives."




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