Interview by Newtimes.az with the Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Head of the Foreign Relations Department Mr. Novruz Mammadov.
Mr. Mammadov, United Kingdom’s Minister for Europe David Lidington stated that he was deeply troubled by the verdict on Khadija Ismayilova’s case and urged Azerbaijan to review some issues. What can you say about that?
Indeed, Minister did make such a statement. Let me stress that that was not the first time that David Lidington expressed his position on Azerbaijan. Despite serving as a Minister for Europe, he is seemingly seeking an opportunity to make a biased statement on Azerbaijan. In fact, he had done that repeatedly in the past. For some reason, Mr. Minister takes great interest in the ongoing processes in Azerbaijan, although being a Minister for Europe. He aims to lead in this field. This is why he decided to outrun other European Union officials and managed it.
Mr. Minister called on Azerbaijan to respect the rule of law in his statement. Yet David Lidington prefers not to mention international law and obligations. It begs a question – do those who often talk about rule of law have own international obligations? Why is it that at every opportunity he makes statements and expresses position related to Azerbaijan, while doing so on behalf of the United Kingdom? However, he fails for once to allude to international law and state a position on Armenia-Azerbaijan, Nagorno Karabakh conflict and plight of refugees.
Mr. Lidington is a Minister for Europe and it would be more appropriate for him to express his opinion on Europe-related processes. He would really demonstrate his impartiality, if he had chosen to make a statement about Julian Assange who has found shelter in near-prison conditions and remained totally deprived of all rights for the past three years.
When it comes to Azerbaijan, processes in Azerbaijan comply with both international and Azerbaijani laws. The person David Lidington refers to was held accountable for criminal conduct. I would recommend Mr. Lidington to elaborate on the processes concerning European media. Analysis reveals that number of law violations related to the media outlets in Europe outweighs other countries. There were 931 journalist-related incidents in different categories registered in European Union and candidate nations in eight months of 2015 alone – 23 in UK, 55 in France, 61 in Germany, 28 in Spain, 6 in Portugal, 7 in Austria and 73 in Italy. Other countries account for the rest of the cases.
As for the gravity of cases, seven of those resulted in death, 167 in physical punishment, 80 in imprisonment and 181 in censorship. Did anybody hear Mr. Lidington making a relevant statement?
EU bears a responsibility for recent developments with regard to migrants, situation reaching a boiling point and tragic loss of lives in great numbers. The ultimate task of the EU bodies is to analyze this situation profoundly and produce necessary conclusions. It would be more productive if Mr. Lidington and others would address the very issue.
Regrettably, neither David Lidington nor other EU representatives – self-proclaimed champions of media freedom – ever mention these events. Therefore, what the motives are of the people that look for speck in the eyes of others while failing to notice the log in theirs?
This is nothing but a manifestation of bias and sordid intentions against Azerbaijan. It is more than appropriate to reiterate that Azerbaijan happens to be a country with independent domestic and foreign policy and no one has the right to interfere in our domestic affairs by issuing biased statements.