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Sanctions Should Have Long Been Put on Azerbaijan

The last week of January was not that much pleasant and favorable for the Azerbaijani side not only because of the dozens of casualties in the borders but also because of the criticism of the international community on the human rights violations and freedom of expression in Azerbaijan.

As the PACE winter session was approaching and on its agenda there was a report called "Protection of Media Freedom in Europe" which included a part that condemned the press freedom violations in Azerbaijan, the whole Azerbaijani media was flooded with the doubts regarding the objectivity of this report. This was explained by the fact that signatures of Armenians were also put under the report. But the real cause of the panic, most probably, was not that much the signatures of Armenians, but the continuing tendency of criticism towards Azerbaijan.

On January 29 PACE adopted the resolution on the "Protection of Media Freedom in Europe", which included a large part concerning the media freedom in Azerbaijan. In the report it is said: "Concerned by the detention of Khadija Ismayilova, the criminal charges against Emin Huseynov and the closure of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Baku in December 2014, the Assembly calls on the authorities of Azerbaijan to respect the right to the presumption of innocence as well as freedom of expression of foreign media in Azerbaijan." The report even urged the Azerbaijani Parliament to make amendments in its legislation so as it was in line with the Azerbaijanis obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.  

In reality what does the adoption of such a resolution mean for Azerbaijan? And how far is the International community ready to go? If we look carefully at Azerbaijani authorities’ behavior, it becomes obvious that they are more than sure that Azerbaijan is one of the most democratic countries of the world. Moreover, Azerbaijan believes that its "caviar diplomacy" will forever succeed and that its oil will always solve its problems. So does this really work? If we speak with facts, then yes, it still works. Though recently we are witnessing the increase of the activation of the wave of criticism of the international community towards Azerbaijan, it is obvious that the former is acting not that much according to its principles, but according to its interests. As for being loyal to the declared democratic values, without clearly defined mechanisms and instruments it is not possible. Thus the international community is still limited only with calls and announcements, which are not legally binding. However, if we speak about objectivity, then sanctions should have long been put on Azerbaijan.

A country like Azerbaijan, which acts like a spoiled child because of the treatment of the international community, could not come back to the reality as a result of some criticism. The day, when Anne Brasseur was expressing her concerns over the deteriorating situation in Azerbaijan, a court in Baku prolonged the term of the journalist Khadija Ismailova’s arrest for another 2 months. On January 29, when the resolution of PACE was adopted, when the Human Rights Watch wrote about the increasing repressions in Azerbaijan, a court in Baku sentenced Seymour Ghazi, an employee of the newspaper "Azadlig" and the announcer of the online program "Azerbaijani hour" to five years imprisonment.

Many claim that to distract the attention of its own people and the international community, Azerbaijan creates a tense situation on the Karabakh-Azerbaijani and Armenian-Azerbaijani borders. Not excluding this option, one should, however, pay attention to another factor as well.  The policies of Azerbaijan – both internal and external, are directly interconnected and are the result of Azerbaijan's insolent state. 

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