Azerbaijan Does Not Comply with Recommendations – OSCE / ODIHR Mission Head

The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) today announced the opening of its Election Observation Mission (EOM) in Baku on February 9 parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan.

The mission, led by a Swedish diplomat, Ambassador Peter Tejler, included 12 experts.

On January 14, they are joined by 30 long-term observers who will be deployed throughout the country.

Another 350 short-term observers will arrive directly at the polls.

According to Tejler at a press conference, the mission was deployed at the invitation of the Azerbaijani government and after a visit to the country by a needs assessment mission.

He emphasized that the mission has no pre-formed opinion about the elections.

“We arrived in order to observe, and not make comparisons with previous elections,” said Tejler.

The mission will assess how parliamentary elections will be consistent with OSCE commitments, other international standards, democratic elections commitments, and national legislation.

The observers will monitor the process of registering candidates, campaigning, the work of the election administration and relevant government agencies, and the consideration of complaints. As part of the monitoring, the mission will also monitor the media coverage of the campaign.

Tejler said there will be no comments on the elections, and it is only supposed to publish reports – preliminary on the election results the day after the vote and final – two months later.

“We are not an election police. We will only watch. We do not legitimize the elections, and their results do not interest us. Our report will be based on observations,” he said.

Answering journalists’ questions, Tejler said the state of the media in Azerbaijan will be in the focus of the mission.

“The state of the country’s media will not remain outside our attention. We will monitor the media,” he said.

When asked whether Azerbaijan was following the recommendations of previous election observation missions, Tejler said: “We are following the recommendations that have been submitted, but we are not responsible for their implementation. Responsible for this lies with Azerbaijan. I can only say that the recommendations are not being followed in Azerbaijan.”

When asked whether there are changes in the election situation, compared with previous years, Tejler replied that an assessment of the election situation has already been given. (Obviously, he had in mind the report of the Needs Assessment Mission: “We are monitoring the process and a final report will be published after the election,” Tejler emphasized.