Today, Public Chamber, Pro-Democracy Civil Movement of the Azerbaijani opposition held a press conference for local and foreign journalists. The leaders of the Azerbaijani opposition spoke to media on the latest political developments in the run off to Eurovision.
“Unambiguously we see the future of Azerbaijan in the family of Europe” – said Ali Karimli, chairman of Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan (PFPA), member of Coordination Council of Public Chamber.
There is a factual authoritarian regime in the country and all the elections have been totally falsified. Azerbaijan is almost ruled by Aliyev’s family for 40 years. By 2009 referendum that made amendments to the Constitution of Azerbaijan, which abolished presidential term limits and now Ilham Aliyev can enjoy unlimited candidacy for presidents” – said, PFPA leader answering the questions of the journalists.
Ali Karimli says “human rights and rule of law are not respected; parliament and courts are dependent on executive power”. He said “we wish the human rights and fundamental freedoms to be respected; we demand independent court and parliament; we demand free and just elections; we wish Azerbaijan to get rid of the authoritarian regime and be ruled under democracy”.
Public Chamber, democratic forces of Azerbaijan are against the monopoly and total corruption in the country. Azerbaijan is ruled by one of the most corrupt governments in the world, economy has been brought to the condition of dependency on oil sector. We’re against the corruption, monopoly and dependency of economy on oil sector. We’re for free market economy. For us the priority is the development of non-oil sector” – continued Ali Karimli.
PFPA leader also criticized the foreign policy of the government. As to him, Azerbaijani government never pursued a definite policy; now there is tendency to be estranged and moving off from the West. Unambiguously we see the future of Azerbaijan in the family of Europe. Euro-integration is also crucially important for returning the occupied territories of Azerbaijan” – said Ali Karimli.
PFPA leader expressed his dissatisfaction with NATO policy as well. He highly appreciated the NATO recognition of Azerbaian’s territorial integrity within the Chicago Summit. As to him this was a good answer to Azerbaijani government, which doesn’t make efforts for further expansion of cooperation with it. Ali Karimli said he was in the favour of deeper cooperation with NATO.
Ali Karimli also spoke on Eurovision Song Contest and appreciated it highly by the fact it brought higher media attention to Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani opposition was very happy with this fact, he stated. Europeans once more witnessed efforts of Azerbaijani nation to be a part of democratic Europe and strengthened their position in the world. The Eurovision made it possible for the world to see the democracy challenges of Azerbaijan and presence of political prisoners. Therefore, the West witnessed the oppositional efforts, serious opposition, and intelligent youth supporting the struggle.
Ali Karimli also spoke on Garabakh conflict. As to him, “should Azerbaijani regime not resort to repression against the opposition and arrest peaceful demonstrators, the world media would mainly focus on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on the eve of Eurovision. Solely the government is responsible for the fact that Karabakh conflict was shadowed by the democracy challenges. Should government not be so corrupt, and show respect for human rights, then Eurovision journalists would have paid higher attention to Karabakh conflict, which left Azerbaijan with the loss of 20% of territories by Armenia” – summarized Ali Karimli.
“We had warned Azerbaijani authorities” – said Isa Gambar, chairman of Musavat Party and member of Coordination Council of the Public Chamber. He has also made a suggestion to president of Azerbaijan: “I suggest you to release all the prisoners of conscience and provide them free tickets and front seats in Crystal Hall”.
“The incumbent regime has taken the whole Azerbaijan in monopoly” – Isa Gambar continued.
“last year, when Azerbaijan Ell&Nicki won the ESC, we warned the authorities and told them that it was an opportunity for the country to create a positive image. We told them it was a chance to introduce Azerbaijan to world and it should be well utilized. However, Azerbaijani government devoted the whole year to construction. The considerable part of the budget was used for the construction projects and most probably this Eurovison is going to be the most expensive one in the history of the competition. More was stolen than was spent on the preparation projects. But no real step was made to bring Azerbaijan closer to Europe. Today the luxurious competition is ongoing, we’re also watching. Therefore, there are tens of political prisoners. 11 out of them are those who were arrested on 2 April protest rally last year. Arif Hajily, my deputy and who has also his signature under the Constitutional act on Azerbaijan’s Independence is among them” – stated leader of Musavat party.
“Azerbaijan opposition proposes the release of all political prisoners, provisions for freedom of assembly, dissolution of Parliament and new elections. Public Chamber prepared a Road Map “Soft Transition from Authoritarianism to Democracy”, which reflects all the proposals and set of recommendations to the government. The struggle for better Azerbaijan and democracy will continue by us and there will be time when hundreds of thousands of people will pour into the streets as it was in Arab countries” – he continued.
Isa Gambar also addressed the international community and peoples of Europe by saying they should put pressure on their governments and ask politicians not to shake “corrupt hands”.