MP from Shamakhi
As a result of the joint efforts of anti-Azerbaijani forces for many years, Azerbaijan has been subjected to biased attitudes and discrimination regarding the issue of political prisoners in PACE. In the absence of the criteria in the Council of Europe for defining the political prisoners, the allegations were made and the documents were adopted for more than 12 years that among the member states of this organization only in Azerbaijan there are political prisoners.
Although this issue was slightly decreased in 2005, it was brought back on the agenda in 2009. In that year the anti-Azerbaijani forces managed to have the decision be adopted in PACE Committee on Legal Affairs regarding the preparation of a report on the follow-up to the issue of political prisoners only in Azerbaijan out of 47 Member States of the Council of Europe. German MP Christoph Strasser was appointed as a rapporteur on the follow-up to the issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan. The Legal Affairs Committee then gave Strasser the second mandate and appointed him as a rapporteur on the definition of political prisoners.
Thus, paradoxical situation arose in connection with the issue of political prisoners in PACE: Two tasks, namely the definition of the criteria for the “political prisoner” and the follow-up to the issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan were entrusted to one MP, Christoph Strasser. Adoption of such a decision once again demonstrated the biased attitude and the existence of double standards in the structures of the Council of Europe towards Azerbaijan.
During PACE 2012 October Session, after tense debates, Strasser’s report on the definition of political prisoners was considered legally adopted by 89/89 votes being against and for, due to the imperfect rules of procedures. This vote undermined the credibility of the PACE on this issue and proved that there is a serious disruption in the Assembly. However, such important issues should be adopted by 2/3 majority of votes.
However, Strasser’s biased report on the follow-up to the issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan, which was of merely anti-Azerbaijani nature, was denied by serious vote margin in 2013 January Session – the vast majority of the Assembly members voted against this biased report.
The anti-Azerbaijani forces became furious over the denial of Strasser’s report, and thus, with various pretexts and means tried to bring back the allegations on the agenda as if there are political prisoners in Azerbaijan. In 2014, they managed to achieve the preparation of the report “Azerbaijan’s Chairmanship of the Council of Europe: what follow-up on respect for human rights?” in the Legal Affairs Committee. However, after the adoption of the report in the Legal Affairs Committee, because of his independent position, the rapporteur Alain Destexhe was forced to resign as a rapporteur as a result of pressure and biased campaigns of anti-Azerbaijani forces.
Finally, the anti-Azerbaijani forces, who were convinced of the impossibility of achieving malicious plans against Azerbaijan through putting the reports on the agenda, namely through internationally recognized democratic elections, chose a new strategy. The imposition of sanctions and the launch of smear and slander campaign against and the punishment of the PACE members, who cooperated with Azerbaijan and demonstrated independent position during the discussions on the issues related to Azerbaijan, should have stood in the centre of this strategy. For this purpose, with the support of the PACE secretariat, the allegations were made by those forces that as if the members, who voted against the Strasser report, have been party in the business with Azerbaijan of corruptive nature, and several reports were prepared by the European Stability Initiative NGO on the corruption within PACE. Thus, the creation of an Independent External Investigation Body on the allegations of corruption within PACE was put on the agenda and the decision was made on establishing the Independent External Investigation Body. It should be noted that all attempts by the anti-Azerbaijani forces and Sawicki, Head of the PACE Secretariat, were primarily intended to reproducing the Strasser report.
However, the Investigation Body acknowledges in its report that no evidence came from the Secretariat members or the parliamentarians regarding the vote buying during the vote on the Strasser report and concluded that there has been no influence on the voting results.
Nevertheless, Pieter Omtzigt, MP from Netherlands, has submitted a motion for resolution on preparing a report on the issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan again in PACE. The Bureau has already made a decision on this issue and a rapporteur on the issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan will be appointed during the June Session of the Assembly.
It should be emphasized that Pieter Omtzigt has been the leader of Azerbaijan’s enemies during the campaign of corruption allegations against Azerbaijan and always demonstrated biased position against Azerbaijan. “The Armenian Connection Report”, prepared by the European Strategic Intelligence and Security Centre, found that Dutch MP Peter Omtzigt, the author of the new motion for resolution, is funded by the Soros Foundation and serves Armenians.
The facts clearly show that the European Stability Initiative, which is the author of the allegations of corruption, damaging the international image of Azerbaijan for many years, and which orchestrates smear and slander campaign against Azerbaijan, is funded by Soros.
Although in the final report of the Investigation Body, Gerald Knaus, Chairman of the European Stability Initiative, presented the organization as an international NGO, this organization has been registered as a lobby organization in the European Commission and the European Parliament on December 22, 2014. The European Stability Initiative has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Soros Foundation between 2012 and 2018 for lobbying activities (particularly, for preparing reports against Azerbaijan) in the Council of Europe. Thus, Gerald Knaus lied to the Investigation Body during his hearing and said that he has received $ 39,000 from the Soros Foundation in 2012. Indeed, this figure is $ 100,000. In 2013 and 2014, the European Stability Initiative has received $ 150,000 grants from the Soros Foundation for each year to increase the effectiveness of the Council of Europe on the issue of political prisoners. The copy of the bank documents, which confirms the financing of the European Stability Initiative by the Soros Foundation and the payments carried out by that foundation, eliminates all doubts regarding the aforementioned.
Thus, the desire to bring back the issue of political prisoners on the agenda and to turn Azerbaijan into a political battlefield were standing behind the creation of the Investigation Body on the allegations of corruption within PACE. The anti-Azerbaijani forces were mobilized for this purpose. These forces are led by the PACE Secretary General Sawicki, who has been demonstrating biased position against Azerbaijan in PACE for many years.