Monday, October 31


So yet again Christoff Strasser was denied his visa for Azerbaijan (he was denied visa earlier in March, January and now October). And each time, a different explanation (or excuse) is brought forward by the officials of Azerbaijani authorities to justify the rejection. 

Strasser is the rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on political prisoners in Azerbaijan. Unfortunately this man, was not able to visit the country since his appointment to conclude his report. 

When Strasser was denied  his visa in August of this year, Elman Abdullayev, first secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Press Service, explained [ENG] the rejection as a result of "the lack of universal criteria on determining whom to regard as political prisoners" and so since there was no criteria, there was no need for the visit. 

And when his visa was denied for another time just now in October, this time, the official explanation circulating in local media [AZ] was that Strasser failed to provide an official invitation letter from PACE Azerbaijan office. Otherwise there are no problems with Strasser's traveling to Azerbaijan the only problem being his mandate. 

One thing that keeps bugging me is that if Strasser can't get a visa, why won't he include this in his report and finalize his conclusions based on "distant research"? Why not connect with civil societies working in Azerbaijan on the issue of political prisoners online, have a series of conference calls? These institutions, can provide Strasser with footage, photographs, any other material he needs. They could be his eyes and ears in the field. 

But oh well... Perhaps Strasser has a certain way of preparing his reports. I just hope this time, his comments of what he would do if authorities don't grant him visa (which they didn't), actually become a reality and he does something about it.

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