Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Azerbaijan

Delivered in Plenary - 12th May 2011

Mr President

Azerbaijan is, regrettably, a one-party, semi-authoritarian state where political opposition to the dynastic rule of the Aliyev family is barely tolerated.

Last December‘s elections predictably delivered an overwhelming majority for Heydar Aliyev’s New Azerbaijan Party. In response, the OSCE stated that the conduct of these elections overall was not sufficient to constitute meaningful progress in the democratic development of that country. The OSCE’s report went on to say that freedom of expression was limited and that normal political discourse was almost impossible, partly because of tight constraints on the media.

Now we are hearing new reports about the targeting of opposition parties and journalists. This is nothing new, but it is good from time to time in this House to remind ourselves of the true nature of the Aliyev regime. After all, this is a country which, like all EU countries, enjoys membership of the Council of Europe and is part of our eastern EU partnership.

Supposedly, Azerbaijan is committed to democracy, the rule of law and human rights. The truth is quite different. Azerbaijan spends countless petro-dollars trying to convince outsiders of the benign nature of the regime but I, for one, am not fully taken in.