Head of the EU delegation to Azerbaijan, Ambassador Rolan Kobia yesterday told journalists that he thought President Ilham Aliyev would stand very good chances on the presidential elections to be held in Azerbaijan next year. Therefore, also expressed his view that the EU would like to see political pluralism, opening of the political space as well as to see as many good candidates as possible and the best to win the elections.
To my mind, Ambassador Roland Kobia’s words on the third term of President Ilham Aliyev re-election are not correctly interpreted by many politicians, civil society representatives and political experts. Therefore, the one-side interpretation misleads the whole society as if EU already supports incumbent’s president Ilham Aliyev and also approves the removal of the two-term limit from the Constitution of Azerbaijan, which was adopted in the 2008 Referendum. We want it or not, it is already a constitutional act and now there is no limit for the president to run for the third-term.
Of course, the entire embassies and missions act in Azerbaijan based on the existing legislation. What should the Ambassador say? Should he reject the constitutional changes and call on the president not to un for the third-term? Of course, it is not possible for the ambassador to voice such a statement. However, Ambassador’s statement is very controversial, generates lots of questions and raised a big polemics. All the Ambassadors, including Roland Kobia should refrain to voice such a clear attitude. The kind of statement casts a shadow on their neutrality and partiality. Hence, this statement can’t be accepted as a sole support of the incumbent president by Ambassador Roland Kobia.
I do not believe Ambassador Roland Kobia wanted to name his favorite candidate for the 2013 Presidential elections in Azerbaijan. No, he couldn’t have thought and said that. Simply, now the constitutional changes are not seen real, thus incumbent president may join the elections on the existing legislation. So, it seems there is no breach of laws and Constitution. But, there are other sides of this motion. Azerbaijani opposition doesn’t believe that the constitutional changes were the order of the time and will of the nation. It also thinks that it was a step backward not forward.
I want to ensure Azerbaijani voters. The 2013 elections won’t be one of the simplest. Including Ambassador Kobia, the entire international community will have to support the fair and just election aspirations of the Azerbaijani society. EU won’t recognize unjust and unfair elections. Azerbaijani society, I believe will witness the firm position of international community for just and fair elections. Ambassador Kobia will have to also voice critical points and issues should the elections deviate from the right track for being just and fair.
Azerbaijan has no way, but integration to Europe. This integration may come only through the democratic changes in the country. The incumbent regime will have to hold democratic elections, should the due international pressure be there.
We, all members of society must work more for democracy. 2013 is a big test. Test is prepared for ruling party and the nation on the whole.
Head of “Region” International Analytical Center (RIAC)
Deputy-Chairperson for International Affairs of the Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan