US Urges Baku to Create Conditions for Open Debate on Eve of Referendum

Elections are an essential element of democracy and a cornerstone of democratic institutions. The United States greatly appreciates the OSCE’s invaluable role in election observation – indeed, this organization has developed what is known as the “gold standard” for its methodology on evaluating elections. This was stated by Ambassador Michael Kozak, Head of US Delegation, at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, Warsaw.

‘We value efforts to promote our shared commitments in election observation throughout the OSCE region.

In this context, the United States has invited OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the Parliamentary Assembly, and participating States to observe the November 8 general elections in the United States. The United States takes very seriously our commitments to democracy and transparency and looks forward to the OSCE’s work in monitoring our electoral process,’ he said.

He further evaluated the state of the electoral process in a number of OSCE countries, including Azerbaijan.

‘We welcome the pending Venice Commission’s opinion on Azerbaijan’s constitutional amendments in advance of the September 26 referendum, and urge the government of Azerbaijan to take into account the Opinion before proceeding with the referendum.  We also urge the authorities to foster an environment conducive to open public discussion about the proposed amendments and respect the freedoms of association and expression, and the right to peaceful assembly.

We would like to highlight the importance of ensuring that historically marginalized populations, such as persons with disabilities, are included in elections on an equal basis with others. When segments of society are excluded from or face significant obstacles to participating in this essential democratic exercise, we fall far short of our OSCE commitment to ensure the equal opportunity of all to participate fully in the life of their society. In this regard we welcome ODIHR’s ongoing efforts to address voters with disabilities in its elections monitoring.

Finally, the United States reiterates its support for ODIHR and other OSCE institutions supporting democratic reforms including the Representative on Freedom of the Media and the High Commissioner on National Minorities. We value their independence and their mandates, and commit to continuing our strong support for the OSCE’s election observation missions,’ Kozak noted.

Turan

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