Watson: Azerbaijan deserves ‘nul points’ for freedom

Sir Graham Watson MEPSpeaking to the European Parliament today in Strasbourg after MEPs had voted on a report on an EU-Azerbaijan Association agreement, ELDR President and Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson said:

I wish to see closer relations between the Azeri people and those of the EU. EU-Azeri relations are increasingly frustrated by the government of Azerbaijan. Journalists, bloggers, politicians and others who dissent from the government’s opinion are regularly – indeed almost routinely – harassed, imprisoned and maltreated.”

“Azerbaijan is bound by the European Convention on Human Rights yet frequently violates its provisions. Azerbaijan participates in our Eastern partnership programme yet its election 18 months ago failed to come anywhere near our standards.” “In hosting the Eurovision song contest Azerbaijan wishes to be seen as a modern democracy; yet fails to allow its own citizens the freedom to sing their songs. It would score ‘nul points’ for freedom.”

“The imprisonment of members of the Liberal Musavat party, the fate of the Aliyev brothers and the harassment of Leyla Yunus are among thousands of cases of blatant injustice.”

“That is why I voted for the excellent report by Anneli Jäätteenmäki insisting on improvements in respect for fundamental freedoms before any association agreement can be signed.”

Notes to Editors

Ahead of the 2012 Eurovision song contest which is being hosted by Azerbaijan in Baku, ELDR has launched a campaign called ‘Douze points for freedom’. European Liberals are demanding the immediate and unconditional release of all those currently imprisoned in Azerbaijan on politically motivated charges. You can read more about and sign the petition here: http://www.douzepointsforfreedom.eu/

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