The Parliament Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) refused to ratify the credentials of the Azerbaijani delegation this year, citing the country’s poor human rights and democracy record.
Anticipating the result of the vote, Azerbaijan’s delegation itself withdrew from PACE a few hours earlier, citing what it called “racism, Azerbaijanophobia, and Islamophobia.”
In its January 24 session, PACE resolved not to ratify the credentials of Azerbaijan’s parliamentary delegation by a vote of 76 to 10, with four abstentions. The body concluded that the country has “not fulfilled major commitments” stemming from its joining the Council of Europe in 2001.
Each year the parliaments of PACE member countries present the credentials of their delegations, and the assembly votes on their ratification.
“Very serious concerns remain as to [Azerbaijan’s] ability to conduct free and fair elections, the separation of powers, the weakness of its legislature vis-à-vis the executive, the independence of the judiciary and respect for human rights, as illustrated by numerous judgments of the European Court of Human Rights and opinions of the Venice Commission,” the Assembly said in a resolution.
The Assembly also touched on the humanitarian crisis last year in the then-Armenian-populated Nagorno-Karabakh region, which started with Azerbaijan’s blockade of the region, culminated with its military offensive in September, and ended with the mass exodus of Armenians.