A wave of angry updates been circulating on social media platforms as of yesterday and today. Azerbaijan's pro- democracy activists are left puzzled (and mostly irritated) following a statement that came yesterday from the head of the EU delegation to Azerbaijan, Roland Kobia. In his comments on the upcoming presidential elections in Azerbaijan that are expected to take place next year, ambassador spoke of a hope for democratic elections. "EU would like to see of course political pluralism, opening of the political space [...]" But it wasn't this part of the statement that frustrated many of the activists at home. "I think President Ilham Aliyev will stand very good chances because he is much known, he has done a good job [...]".
Now let me tell you that it is one thing to say that the President will stand a very good chance for re-election. This is true, because elections will be violated and there wont be that expected pluralism the Ambassador is so much hopeful for. President Aliyev doesn't stand a good chance for re-election because majority of Azerbaijanis is expected to choose him. It is unrealistic to project such kind of prediction from the point of view of democratic elections and results.
And coming to the second part of his statement- "he has done a good job"- now that is pushing it a bit too far. I for once, was not expecting to hear such remark come from the head of the delegation. I wonder where does the ambassador see the good? In the poor human rights record? In the number of imprisoned journalists? In corruption? I can go on with the list... Really, where is the good job?
I share the frustration, and I am very upset to hear such a statement especially from someone I have much respect for. Where does it leave us- the people who want to see democracy in Azerbaijan, who want to see free and fair elections, who want to have corruption free country and future? I know, where we should have been from the very beginning. Whatever change we talk about in the case of Azerbaijan must come from within. International institutions have no leverage over Azerbaijan and so at the end of the day, we should not be surprised. After all, Azerbaijan violated many of its promises it gave upon becoming a member of the Council of Europe but never has it been penalized for its failure in fulfilling many of the promises.
I don't think calling for Ambassador's resignation is going to change anything. Its a statement that had to be made. Or not?!