BAKU, Azerbaijan, October 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
Azerbaijan's just-concluded presidential elections received praise from the European Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), with electoral monitoring missions from both bodies praising the country's orderly, free, and fair voting process and its openness to international monitors.
In a joint statement made Thursday before a standing-room-only press conference, Pino Arlacchi, the head of the European Parliament's mission, and Robert Walter, the head of PACE's observation mission, gave a joint statement in which they praised the election for its "free, fair and transparent electoral process."
Arlacchi congratulated Azerbaijan on the open, peaceful nature of the election, noting, "We have not seen any fact of pressure on voters." Speaking of the vote tabulation, Walter added, "We have participated in the process of counting votes and have not faced irregularities."Both missions praised the resources and attention given to making certain that the electoral process itself was smooth and peaceful. The joint statement made clear that both PACE and the European Parliament were satisfied that the "electoral procedures on the eve and on Election Day have been carried out in a professional and peaceful way," and that they "were pleased to see the sound technical preparations and the investment made by the Azeri authorities for this election." The two missions also stated that they "did not witness any evidence of intimidation against voters, in or close to polling stations. There was no presence of police around polling stations in compliance with the electoral law." The statement singled out the "more open electoral debate" that preceded this election and the "window of opportunity" the opposition enjoyed. Both missions commended Azerbaijan's "large presence of national and international observers for the 2013 presidential election" and congratulated the country on its continuing democratic journey, with a promise to remain partners on that journey. "The European Parliament stands ready to keep working closely with the Parliament of Azerbaijan to enhance EU - Azerbaijan relations, both bilaterally and in the context of the Eastern Partnership." In total, over 50,000 observers, including 1,400 international delegates, monitored the election, a sign of growing openness and commitment to democratic norms in this oil-rich Caspian nation. The OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Ukraine's Minister of Foreign Affairs Leonid Kozhara, welcomed the large number of observers from authoritative international organisations, noting that a number of aspects of the conduct of the Presidential election in Azerbaijan showed progress towards meeting the OSCE and Council of Europe commitments and other international standards for democratic elections, while also outlining the areas which need to be further improved. "In this regard, I congratulate the people and the leadership of Azerbaijan on this achievement that represents an important step forward in democratic development of their country," Kozhara said, adding, "I am confident that Azerbaijan will continue its efforts aimed at further strengthening its democratic institutions."