All Articles containing the tag: AZERBAIJAN

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Security and Human Rights Monitor


Nagorno-Karabakh: A dangerous conflict that could spiral out of control
Photo: OSCE/Alexander Nitzsche
5 May 2016 - Stephanie Liechtenstein - 0

Nagorno-Karabakh: A dangerous conflict that could spiral out of control

On 2 April, fighting broke out in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, killing well over a hundred people in the space of four days and reigniting a 'frozen' conflict that has been going on between Armenians and Azerbaijanis for almost three decades. This recent military escalation shows that there is a real risk for this 'frozen' conflict to remain 'hot' for a while. Another, more serious military confrontation may in fact be imminent. There is also a risk for Russia and Turkey to be drawn into a proxy war. Hence, a diplomatic push is needed to help diffuse tensions. The OSCE, under the leadership of its current German Chairmanship, should therefore come to the forefront with strong initiatives, together with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs.

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Azerbaijan Seeks to Close OSCE Office in Baku
Photo: OSCE/Zaur Zeynal
12 June 2015 - 0

Azerbaijan Seeks to Close OSCE Office in Baku

In a surprising move, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan sent the OSCE an official verbal note (dated 3 June) in which it stated that "it does not see any more need for the activity of the OSCE Project Coordinator in Baku." With this, Baku unilaterally terminates the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which was signed between the government of Azerbaijan and the OSCE on 24 September 2014. The verbal note furthermore states that the OSCE has one month – until 4 July – "for completing the technical issues arising from the termination of the above mentioned Memorandum." By unilaterally terminating the MoU, Azerbaijan essentially orders the OSCE to close down its field operation in Baku and to leave the country.

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Interview: The Eurovision Song Contest as a Confidence-Building Measure and Bridge Builder?
Photo: Stephanie Liechtenstein
24 May 2015 - Stephanie Liechtenstein - 0

Interview: The Eurovision Song Contest as a Confidence-Building Measure and Bridge Builder?

On 23 May, the Eurovision Song Contest took place in Vienna. Austria won the contest in 2014 with the powerful song 'Rise Like a Phoenix' by Conchita Wurst who has since become an internationally known figure advocating more tolerance towards sexual minorities. Fittingly, Ireland announced the results of its referendum on legalizing gay marriage on the day of the Song Contest. It voted overwhelmingly (over 62%) in favor of same-sex marriage. Crowds in the arena in Vienna at the Eurovision Song Contest reacted to the Irish referendum by cheering loudly when Ireland read out its points. The winner of this year's Song Contest is Sweden with the song 'Heroes'. In this interview, Dr. Dean Vuletic, expert on the relation between popular music and politics, explains how popular music, and indeed the Song Contest, can help to build bridges between states and also between people, and how it can be used as a confidence-building measure. He also gives insights as to whether the Eurovision Song Contest can be used to affirm statehood.

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Strong Plea to Implement OSCE Commitments on Freedoms of Assembly and Association
Photo: OSCE
28 April 2015 - 0

Strong Plea to Implement OSCE Commitments on Freedoms of Assembly and Association

The Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting (SHDM) on Freedoms of Peaceful Assembly and Association, with Emphasis on Freedom of Association took place in Vienna on 16 and 17 April. It was organized by the Serbian OSCE Chairmanship and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). The meeting was part of a series of OSCE human dimension meetings that take place every year throughout the OSCE region and that culminate in the annual Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, Europe's largest human rights conference, taking place in Warsaw in autumn. The SHDMs provide an opportunity for representatives of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to participate on an equal footing with government representatives.

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Free elections or free caviar?
Photo: OSCE/Thomas Rymer
15 November 2013 - 1

Free elections or free caviar?

Ilham Aliyev has dominated the ex-Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan for an entire decade. He won the Presidency in 2003 (when he succeeded his father) and again in 2008. It therefore came as no surprise when Aliyev of the New Azerbaijan Party again managed to gain 85 percent of the votes in the Presidential election on 9 October of this year. Azerbaijan is located strategically between Russia and Iran. It has rich oil and gas reserves in the Caspian Sea which it exports to Europe mainly through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. The oil exports have led to an economic boom in the country, raising living standards and reducing poverty. However, visitors to the glowing capital of Baku should not let themselves be deceived by its futuristic architecture, grand boulevard and impressive seafront. Aliyev tolerates no dissent

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Diplomatic row in the OSCE as Azerbaijan aims to downgrade the mandate of the OSCE Office in Baku
Photo: OSCE/Tatyana Baeva
27 May 2013 - 0

Diplomatic row in the OSCE as Azerbaijan aims to downgrade the mandate of the OSCE Office in Baku

In mid-March, the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister sent a letter to the OSCE, officially requesting that the mandate of the OSCE Office in Baku be reviewed and its status changed to that of a “project coordinator.” Essentially, this would mean a downgrading of the OSCE Office to a more technical level and a reduction of the Office’s competences as well as its room to maneuver. All projects would have to be officially approved by the Foreign Ministry and their implementation would be closely monitored. Azerbaijan’s unhappiness with the OSCE and its activities is nothing new. For instance, Azerbaijan has on a regular basis failed to join consensus on a number of important Ministerial Council decisions. Yet, the official request by Baku to downgrade the OSCE Office caught many by surprise, with the mandate of the Office approved just 6 months ago and its budget of approximately 2.8 million Euros passed very recently. The downgrading of the Office in Baku would signify the continuation of a negative trend; upon the request of the Uzbek government, the OSCE Center in Tashkent was downgraded in 2006 to the status of a project coordinator. 

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