Tsereteli and AliyevOSCE PA delegation meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Baku, 12 March 2018BAKU, 12 March 2018 – Highlighting Azerbaijan’s potential as a bridge for dialogue and co-operation in the OSCE area, a high-level delegation led by OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President George Tsereteli (MP, Georgia) today discussed with Azerbaijani counterparts upcoming domestic elections, as well as democratic and economic reforms in the country. The delegation underlined the important role that Azerbaijan plays in the region of the South Caucasus, and urged further efforts at economic and security co-operation.

The PA delegation noted the continuing human cost of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, and urged all actors to redouble efforts at conflict resolution. Other protracted conflicts and the crisis in and around Ukraine were also discussed.

Meeting with Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, President Tsereteli noted concern about violence on the line of contact, and the intolerable toll on civilian populations in areas affected by the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The PA President reiterated the Assembly’s support for the mediation efforts by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs as well as the activities of the Personal Representative of the Chairperson-in-Office, Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk.

Tsereteli welcomed the active engagement of Azerbaijan in the OSCE PA and stressed the commitment of the PA to the region.

“Increased exchanges and strong co-operation are key to the development and success of our countries and our people,” Tsereteli said. “Democratic reforms, particularly on freedom of the media and on creating conditions to maximize the contribution of civil society, should be addressed adequately. Democratic and economic reforms in Azerbaijan mean increased security and stability in the OSCE.”

The PA delegation led by Tsereteli includes Nilza Sena (MP, Portugal), who serves as Chair of the Assembly’s Committee on Economic Affairs, Science, Technology and Environment, and OSCE PA Secretary General Roberto Montella. The delegation met today with Ogtay Asadov, Speaker of the Milli Mejlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan; Elmar Mammadyarov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan; members of Azerbaijan’s delegation to the OSCE PA led by Bahar A. Muradova, and with Azay Guliyev, who serves as Vice-President of the OSCE PA.

“Azerbaijan’s contribution to the OSCE PA has been active and useful,” Secretary General Montella said. “I particularly welcome that parliamentarians from Azerbaijan have contributed numerous times to our election observation missions across the OSCE area, including in important leadership positions. Their contribution to our collective work is very much appreciated.”

Nilza Sena, who has been nominated by the PA President to be the Special Co-ordinator for the OSCE short-term observer team to the early presidential election in Azerbaijan on 11 April, is meeting in Baku with a range of election stakeholders, as well as the OSCE/ODIHR election observation mission in the country. The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly expects to deploy an observer mission for the 11 April vote.

“I am honored to serve the OSCE in my future function as Special Co-ordinator for the upcoming presidential election. I see this visit as a useful exercise,” Sena said. “I look forward to lending my personal contribution and experience to Azerbaijan and to the OSCE.”

On Tuesday, Sena will continue her round of meetings with election stakeholders and members of the PA delegation will participate in a conference on “The role of parliamentarians in boosting economic co-operation and cultural ties along the Silk Road.” The conference is organized by Milli Mejlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Silk Road Support Group.