BAKU, Azerbaijan, July 12, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
The European Parliament has decided Azerbaijan no longer needs observer missions to monitor its elections, a move that has been welcomed in Baku as an "important moment in its independent history".
Over the past decade, the European Union has deployed observer missions to more than 100 countries said to have problems with the integrity of their electoral processes. Now that Azerbaijan is no longer on that list it is being acknowledged there as a good sign for the presidential elections, which will take place in mid October.
"This trust (from the European Parliament) finally puts Azerbaijan on a new and improved democratic perception in Europe. One where the electoral process is expected to be able to function according to international norms and values," said Azerbaijani MP and delegate to Euronest Elkhan Suleymanov.
He pointed out that the EU sent a mission to Armenia this year and is planning to send one to Georgia. That, he said, makes this decision on Azerbaijan significant for the region because it is the first country in the South Caucasus to not require such external oversight.
And beyond regional politics, Suleymanov noted other countries with elections this year that won't receive European monitoring include Japan, Argentina, Australia, Norway and Iceland. These are "all high ranking countries in world democracy indexes," he added.
There have been three observer missions to elections in Azerbaijan - in 2005, 2008 and 2010. Suleymanov says it is because these visits have produced positive reports from those on the ground that the European Parliament's decision has been made.
"The future of Azerbaijan is one with close ties to Europe where both partners can prosper from economic and cultural exchanges and can help build a safer and more stable society, both in their regions and in the world," Suleymanov said.
Meanwhile, Azerbaijan has confirmed it will allow monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to observe the election.