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Processo : 2019/2511(RSP)
Ciclo de vida em sessão
Ciclos relativos aos documentos :

Textos apresentados :

RC-B8-0056/2019

Debates :

PV 17/01/2019 - 8.1
CRE 17/01/2019 - 8.1

Votação :

PV 16/01/2019 - 21.9
PV 17/01/2019 - 10.1
CRE 17/01/2019 - 10.1

Textos aprovados :

P8_TA(2019)0033

Debates
Quinta-feira, 17 de Janeiro de 2019 - Estrasburgo Edição revista

8.1. Azerbaijão, nomeadamente o caso de Mehman Huseynov
Vídeo das intervenções
PV
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  Președintele. – Următorul punct pe ordinea de zi este dezbaterea a șase propuneri de rezoluție referitoare la Azerbaidjan, în special cazul lui Mehman Huseynov (2019/2511(RSP)).

 
  
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  Rebecca Harms, Verfasserin. – Herr Präsident, Frau Kommissarin, sehr geehrte Kolleginnen und Kollegen, auch in Aserbaidschan, die diese Debatte möglicherweise, hoffentlich verfolgen! In der Internetzeitung Azeri Daily habe ich gestern einen Artikel gelesen, in dem ich und die Kollegen, die an dieser Entschließung gearbeitet haben, quasi beschuldigt werden, wir seien an einem groß angelegten Komplott zur Vorbereitung eines Coups gegen die Regierung von Aserbaidschan beteiligt. Ich empfehle den Journalisten dieser Zeitung, mal mit uns zu sprechen, bevor sie so etwas schreiben. Und ich empfehle auch zum Beispiel meinen gewählten Kollegen aus Aserbaidschan in der parlamentarischen Versammlung EuroNest, mal mit mir zu reden. Das habe ich versucht, bevor wir diese Entschließung auf den Weg gebracht haben. Es ist mir leider nicht geglückt. Mein ehemaliger Vorstandskollege bei EuroNest, Fuad Muradov, ist inzwischen Minister in der Regierung von Aserbaidschan, und er weiß sehr gut, dass mein Anliegen in der Arbeit bei EuroNest immer gewesen ist, gute Beziehungen, verlässliche Beziehungen auch gerade zwischen uns Abgeordneten zu gewährleisten.

Warum haben wir diese Dringlichkeit wirklich auf die Tagesordnung gesetzt? Wir sind besorgt über das Schicksal von Mehman Hüseynov. Mehman Hüseynov ist seit Dezember letzten Jahres im Hungerstreik, und zwar deshalb, weil er damit bedroht ist, vor Ende seiner Haft, zu der er für zwei Jahre verurteilt war, erneut angeklagt zu werden, und jetzt befürchtet, vor Ende seiner ersten Haftstrafe zu fünf bis sieben weiteren Jahren verurteilt zu werden. Diese Situation ist keine einmalige Situation, sondern das Civil Society Forum in EuroNest hat uns darüber informiert, dass dieses Muster sich jetzt zum fünften Mal wiederholt. Und dies und unsere Sorgen für das Wohlergehen von Mehman Hüseynov haben dazu geführt, dass wir diese Dringlichkeit auf die Tagesordnung gesetzt haben.

Wir appellieren mit allen Fraktionen dieses Hauses an die aserbaidschanische Regierung: Lassen Sie Mehman Hüseynov frei! Wir appellieren an die Richter, nicht wieder ein solches inszeniertes Verfahren gegen ihn aufzulegen. Mehman hat sich verdient gemacht um Aufklärung von Korruption im Europarat. Deswegen sitzt er jetzt im Gefängnis. Und er hat sich eben nicht nur mit Problemen in Aserbaidschan auseinandergesetzt, sondern auch mit Problemen von korrupten Politikern zum Beispiel in Deutschland und in Italien. Auch deshalb ist es richtig, dass das Europäische Parlament sich jetzt für seine bedingungslose Freilassung einsetzt.

 
  
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  Ignazio Corrao, author. – Mr President, it seems like there are no more boundaries for President Aliyev in his war against his opponents. The message of the despot is clear: no one must dare to publicly highlight the extensive corruption and abuses by Azerbaijan’s rulers and officials.

The case of Mehman Huseynov is emblematic. The journalist and blogger has been repeatedly harassed by the police for years, tortured and jailed on fabricated charges. In addition, the new charges are clearly politically motivated. They are tailored to further silence a prominent human rights voice. As a matter of fact, instead of investigating the alleged mistreatment suffered by Mr Huseynov, he was accused of defamation of the same officials that tormented him. After all, what would you expect from a country that ranks 163rd out of 180 countries on the World Press Freedom Index? What do you expect from a country where independent journalists and bloggers are thrown in prison if they do not bend to harassment bribes, beatings and blackmail?

The European Union is now negotiating a new agreement with Azerbaijan which should be based on the rule of law, human rights, good governance and democratic reforms. I believe this principle should not remain only on paper. The future agreement of Parliament to such an Act should not be given unless the situation changes radically.

Azerbaijan’s crackdown on dissidents must end immediately and the unconditional release of political prisoners must be a priority in EU—Azerbaijan relations. This is why I call on the Commission to use all its influence and pressure to ensure the Azerbaijani authorities drop the charges and release Mr Huseynov unconditionally, along with the ten other journalists jailed. If we fail on that, we will be giving up once again on our principles and values.

 
  
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  Charles Tannock, author. – Mr President, it is nearly two years since Mehman Huseynov was sentenced to a two year jail sentence on a trumped up charge of slander. As a well-known blogger that sought to shed light on the alleged corruption of those in power there, there’s always been a strong suspicion that the case against him was politically motivated. With his release date fast approaching and the authorities now seeking to press further charges that could see him remain in prison for another five to seven years, those suspicions are fully justified.

Far from being an isolated case there are claims that only this month there been five similar cases in which new charges are being brought against those whose sentences are about to end. None of this however should come as a great surprise given Azerbaijan’s terrible track record for press freedom, ranking 163 out of 180 countries according to the World Press Freedom Index. It is amongst the worst in the world in fact.

I’m pleased that we have been able to raise his case today in this House, particularly given his vulnerable health as he continues a partial hunger strike. I strongly support the calls in this resolution for his immediate release and for the authorities to bring no further charges in Azerbaijan, which is an Eastern neighbourhood country with which the European Union enjoys good relations.

 
  
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  Miguel Urbán Crespo, autor. – Señor presidente, en Azerbaiyán la corrupción no es un problema cualquiera, es un problema endémico, y quien se atreve a denunciarla termina encarcelado o torturado. Esta es la situación de la que estamos hablando aquí. Esta es la situación de Mehman Hüseynov, que cumple una sentencia de dos años y se enfrenta a nuevos cargos, por lo que puede estar encarcelado otros siete.

Antes de su arresto, en 2017, Hüseynov lanzó la campaña «Busca funcionarios corruptos», en la que exponía la corrupción cometida por la élite gobernante de Azerbaiyán. Esta élite montó una trama secreta para pagar a figuras europeas, comprar bienes de lujo y blanquear dinero. Según las denuncias, la cúpula política de Azerbaiyán, acusada de abusos sistemáticos contra los derechos humanos, corrupción generalizada y amaño de elecciones compró a políticos y periodistas europeos para frenar las críticas al presidente, silenciar las violaciones de derechos humanos y promover una imagen positiva del país. Es lo que se llamó la «diplomafia del caviar».

Una de estas autoridades europeas fue Pedro Agramunt, que tuvo que renunciar a su cargo como presidente del Consejo de Europa y como miembro de su Asamblea Parlamentaria tras este y otros escándalos. Pero como la corrupción parece que también es endémica en su partido —el PP—, sigue ejerciendo como senador todavía hoy en España. La corrupción también permea en los grandes proyectos de extracción de recursos naturales, pero Azerbaiyán es crucial como fuente de recursos para Europa en su ansia de buscar una alternativa a Rusia. Por eso no hemos hablado de esto tampoco en esta Resolución.

Azerbaiyán es el origen del gasoducto del Cáucaso Sur y del oleoducto BTC, 1 700 km de tubo que transportan petróleo hacia Occidente. Fue, por cierto, la corrupción del BTC, promovida por British Petroleum, hace diez años, la que impulsó la campaña de lavado de imagen en el Consejo de Europa de la que hablábamos antes.

Exigimos que se cancele toda participación europea en el corredor del Cáucaso Sur. Que se suspendan las negociaciones del Acuerdo de Asociación, dado que no hay ninguna voluntad de respetar la libertad de expresión, asociación y reunión de sus ciudadanos. Recordamos que hace unos meses esta Cámara aprobó condicionar el Acuerdo de Asociación a la liberación de presos políticos, a la apertura del espacio de trabajo de la sociedad civil. Seguimos esperando.

Solicitamos, como ya hicimos en 2017, una investigación por parte de las autoridades competentes en materia de lucha contra el fraude y blanqueo de dinero de la llamada «diplomafia del caviar». Y por supuesto, instamos a las autoridades españolas a utilizar todos los mecanismos a su alcance para investigar las denuncias contra el senador Pedro Agramunt y obligarle a renunciar a su escaño en el Senado.

Parece, una vez más, que cuando se trata de la política exterior de la Unión Europea hacia sus vecinos, los valores y los intereses, que están profundamente entrelazados en lugar de excluirse mutuamente, (palabras incomprensibles) llevan a tomar verdaderas disposiciones y medidas claras contra Azerbaiyán.

 
  
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  Marietje Schaake, author. – Mr President, it is actually quite sad that we’re here once again debating the deteriorating human rights situation in Azerbaijan under the leadership of President Aliyev and the vice-president, his wife. Human rights defenders and activists, such as Mehman Huseynov who are shedding light on corruption are being harassed, unlawfully detained and tortured. And although this crackdown on human rights, democracy and civil society is systematic, the European Commission signed a partnership agreement with Azerbaijan this summer.

I think we have to question the issue of conditionality and how we can best use it now. Certainly any partnership agreement with any country cannot become a reason to, or an excuse to, avoid addressing the human rights violations in the strongest possible terms.

In fact, and many colleagues have mentioned this, Azerbaijan is ranked 163rd among 180 countries in 2008 on the World Press Freedom Index. That is a shockingly low ranking and it is confirmed by the fact that 10 journalists are currently imprisoned, but there’s also a number of websites and blogs that are blocked in the country. In fact some of the country’s brightest minds have already left, because their freedom and safety was jeopardised and their families were intimidated.

This is the kind of thing we previously saw with the cowardly leaking of videos and the fining of Khadija Ismayilova of EUR 23 000, which is almost 10 times the annual per capita income of the country, and shows the extent of pressure and the diversity of pressure on press and journalists, but also on opposition figures, civil society leaders and others.

The overall situation concerning human rights and freedom is very dire: imprisonment, harassment, intimidation and fines. These are in direct violation of Azerbaijan’s obligations stemming from its signing of the European Convention of Human Rights and also the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights.

So as we look to a new agreement between the EU and Azerbaijan, it is important that we confirm our commitment to the conditionality of this partnership agreement, depending on democratic reforms, respect for the rule of law, good governance and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. They must be at the core of the agreement and we should not brush over them. There are also conditions before the consent of this House can be given at a later stage.

So in the meantime we should a look to a renewed partnership agreement and as these human rights defenders are being systematically harassed, we expect nothing less than the European Commission and the High Representative/Vice-President, Ms Mogherini to condemn the human rights violations in Azerbaijan in the strongest possible terms, and to join us in calling for the release of journalists, opposition figures and political prisoners alike.

 
  
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  Ana Gomes, author. – Mr President, when we talk about human rights and the rule of law being the basis of our action, and our action towards third countries, namely through the agreements that we have negotiated – that we are negotiating with Azerbaijan – it’s not rhetoric. It’s up to people like you, Commissioner Malmström, like Federica Mogherini, to indeed deliver, to make sure it happens.

It’s not just perfunctory and the case of Azerbaijan is a scandal, what has been going on and, as the case of Mehman Huseynov demonstrates – but we could mention many other activists such as Khadija Ismayilova, Ilgar Mammadov and Afgan Mukhtarli, who was kidnapped in Georgia and brought to Azerbaijan to be tortured in jail. And why? Because these brave people dared to expose the corruption on which is based this regime of Aliyev. It’s really horrendous that, despite all these principles, the people who are negotiating and were proposing to this Parliament to give its consent, in fact they do opposite. It’s a shame. We expect you to deliver on these principles and indeed make a sound evaluation of what the situation is and the situation is what has been described by my colleagues who spoke earlier.

In the case of Mehman Huseynov, it shows the level of pressure and of torture that these people are being subjected to. This week, one of our colleagues, Norica Nicolai, distributed to all of us a letter that he eventually wrote – he was obviously forced to write – because if you read this letter it reminds me of the letters that people under the dictatorship in my country, under Salazar, and people in her country, under Ceaușescu, would write under duress to pretend that everything is alright, to try to prevent us from adopting the resolution that we are going to adopt today.

What is even more atrocious, as was mentioned by my colleague Miguel Urbán Crespo, is indeed the corruption that it has been fomenting inside the European Union, as the case of the Azerbaijani Laundromat demonstrates, with politicians, even in this Parliament, as we saw in 2013, in the elections in Azerbaijan bought by this regime. We cannot allow it to go on. It’s not just about Azerbaijan, it’s not about supporting those who fight against corruption and for human rights and the rule of law in Azerbaijan, it’s about the EU.

 
  
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  Željana Zovko, autorica. – Poštovani predsjedavajući, uvažena povjerenice, na početku bih željela zahvaliti kolegama na detaljno obavljenim konzultacijama glede slučaja Mehmana Huseynova. Budući da sam izvjestiteljica u sjeni Europske pučke stranke za izvješće o Azerbajdžanu, a sada i EPP-jev pregovarač za ovu rezoluciju, smatram da se ovom rezolucijom naglašava značaj pitanja bilateralnih odnosa Europske unije i Azerbajdžana.

Veliku važnost trebamo pridati novom sporazumu o partnerstvu između Europske unije i Azerbajdžana, a poštivanje vladavine prava, ljudskih prava i temeljnih sloboda mora biti u središtu novog sporazuma.

Mehmet Huseynov je antikorupcijski bloger i ravnatelj Instituta za slobodu i sigurnost, osuđen na kaznu zatvora u trajanju od dvije godine jer se javno žalio na iskustvo koje je imao s policijom i na loš tretman i mučenje u policiji nakon što je kritizirao javne dužnosnike objavivši podatke o njihovom neprijavljenom bogatstvu. Dva mjeseca prije puštanja na slobodu, zbog navodnog napada na zatvorskog čuvara, prijeti mu produženje kazne zatvora na dodatnih 5 do 7 godina. Rezolucija poziva na hitno oslobađanje gospodina Huseynova i pružanje profesionalne medicinske pomoći ističući važnost demokratizacije društva i zaštite ljudskih prava. Cilj je poslati poruku kako Europska unija ne namjerava prekinuti vezu i suradnju s Azerbajdžanom već ima za cilj, kao znak potpore, pomoći u pronalaženju rješenja i modela u ostvarivanju transformacije Azerbajdžana u demokratsko i tolerantno društvo.

Europska unija trenutno jedina ima autoritet da dijalogom pomogne zemlji u jačanju navedenih prava. Ovim putem pozivam na puštanje na slobodu svih zatvorenika savjesti. Europa se mora držati principa na kome je utemeljena, a to je sloboda mišljenja i govora u zemljama s kojima surađuje. Ovdje posebno ne navodim Azerbajdžan nego sve treće zemlje s kojima Europa surađuje bez selektivnih primjenjivanja istih principa, kako Europske unije, tako i ovog Parlamenta. To pravo koje je temelj deklaracije o ljudskim pravima ne smije biti selektivno korišteno. Ova rezolucija je dobra u tome što upozorava i na položaj Azerbajdžana u slobodi govora, a to je, nažalost, 163. zemlja od 183 zemlje. Tragično.

Slučajevi korištenja fondova za kupovinu utjecaja kod političara, novinara i onih koji mogu svojim bivšim političkim vezama kreirati javno mnijenje u Europi i u centrima političke moći odlučivanja, to je zabrinjavajuće.

To mora prestati. Očekujem žurnu pomoć Huseynovu, njegovo puštanje na slobodu i adekvatnu medicinsku pomoć. Puštanje na slobodu, također, svih političkih zatvorenika i zatvorenika savjesti jer to je nedopustivo u 21. stoljeću. Prijateljstva sa zemljama partnerima moraju se graditi na uzajamnim vrijednostima. Naše su: zaštita najslabijih i sloboda govora. To, gospodine predsjedavajući i uvažena povjerenice, s tim se ne trguje. S pravima se ne trguje, zaštita najslabijih mora biti temelj europske vanjske politike i temelj na kojima ćemo graditi veze sa svim trećim zemljama, bez obzira iz kojeg područja oni dolazili. Za to se moramo zalagati u ovom Parlamentu i za to ću se boriti dokle god sam zastupnica.

 
  
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  Jaromír Štětina, za skupinu PPE. – Pane předsedající, důrazně požaduji propuštění Mehmána Hüsejnova, který drží v Ázerbajdžánu hladovku proti bezpráví. Spolu s ním v ázerbajdžánských věznicích trpí řada dalších vězňů svědomí. Za všechny připomínám případ Afgána Muchtarlího uneseného tajnými službami ze sousední Gruzie. Postih kritiků režimu ze strany Baku se neomezuje jen na území vlastní země.

Upozorňuji na expanzi vlivu ázerbajdžánského režimu mimo jeho hranice. Export vlivu a nátlaku probíhá různými způsoby. Například cestou únosu jako v případě Muchtarlího. Další způsob pronásledování oponentů režimu je zneužívání Interpolu pro extradici těch, kteří režimu utekli a hledají azyl a ochranu mimo svůj domov.

Zneužívání Interpolu Čínou či Ruskem je stále častější. Interpol se pokusům o vydávání politických oponentů brání. Opírá se přitom o článek 3 své vlastní konstituce, která říká, že se Interpol nevměšuje do věcí politického charakteru. O tento článek se Interpol opíral, když před časem odmítl požadavek Baku zatknout tři poslance EP. Hledejme cesty, jak zabránit pronásledování svobody slova, myšlenek a vyznání v Ázerbájdžánu. Jedna z cest by mohla být podpora nevládních evropských organizací, které se Ázerbájdžánem zabývají.

 
  
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  Soraya Post, on behalf of the S&D Group. – Mr President, this is about the third urgency resolution we have had on human rights abuses in Azerbaijan during this mandate. It is really time for the Government of Azerbaijan to take our demands seriously.

I demand the immediate and unconditional release of Mehman Huseynov and all other human rights defenders like lawyers, youth activists, political opponents, anti-corruption activists, independent journalists and bloggers in Azerbaijan. These people have been arrested and are being tortured and imprisoned for exercising their freedom of expression and for criticising their Government. That is not a crime. To the Azeri officials, I would like to say that it is a right. Some of these people are serving prison sentences for ten years just because they have investigated, or protested against, corruption in the Government.

The EU cannot stay silent while the media and free speech is being repressed in Azerbaijan. We cannot accept the random arrest, harassment, torture and ill treatment of LGBTI people, human rights defenders and political prisoners. If these demands are not met, the EU should take measures such as sanctions against the responsible Azeri officials. The European Commission and financial bodies should suspend all financing for Azerbaijan state structures, enterprises and joint ventures.

 
  
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  Sajjad Karim, on behalf of the ECR Group. – Mr President, in my capacity as Chair of the delegation for relations with the South Caucasus, we have seen a marked change in our relations with Azerbaijan. Month after month, year after year, the progress that has been made in ensuring that a strong partnership between the EU and Azerbaijan emerges can be measured in leaps and bounds.

The European Union as a champion of democracy, human rights and free speech across the globe should not, and must not ever, turn a blind eye to the mistreatment of any individual by any government. No matter how exciting and no matter how extensive the progress in international agreements may be, we must not abandon the individuals they are designed to benefit.

With these individuals in mind, there is much in the resolution that is in front of us today that our Parliament must reinforce in its message by calling on the Commission, on the European External Action Service to seek, and indeed Azerbaijan to provide, adequate protections for those accused of these crimes, guarantees of medical assistance, access to legal counsel.

Family visits must be found as a priority for all individuals listed in this resolution. Indeed, the strong relationship that we have built with Azerbaijan has already paid dividends here, and the granting of access to the EU delegation to visit Mr Huseynov is a positive precursor to resolving the situations flagged in this resolution.

Finally, our relations must always reflect our values, but equally they must always have respect for all of our partners.

 
  
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  Norica Nicolai, în numele grupului ALDE. – Domnule președinte, în calitatea mea de raportor al Parlamentului pentru Azerbaidjan, aș dori să fac următoarele precizări: este adevărat, suntem în prezența celei de a treia rezoluții care semnalează derapaje în ceea ce privește drepturile omului, dar, așa cum spunea domnul Karim, relațiile dintre Uniunea Europeană și Azerbaidjan au evoluat de o manieră pozitivă. Ne pregătim să încheiem acest acord de parteneriat și cred că este un bun prilej să avem o discuție foarte serioasă cu privire la efectul demersurilor Parlamentului European asupra unor state terțe.

Atunci când toți am lucrat cu bună credință, în încercarea de a avea dialoguri constructive cu autoritățile, am avut și am realizat succesul de a elibera un om, vă rog să vă amintiți, un proeminent deținut politic – mă refer la domnul Mammadov – ca urmare a demersurilor noastre, dar făcute de o manieră neconflictuală, de o manieră decentă.

Tot în același an, anul trecut, prin aceleași demersuri ale Parlamentului European, realizate într-o diplomație și într-un dialog coerent, am reușit și am pus în libertate 146 de persoane. Eu cred că este foarte important ca acest tip de acțiune să continue.

Domnul Huseynov: am văzut foarte clar cum au pornit aceste alegații și am văzut demersul radioului Europa Liberă. În același timp, am primit de la Baku – pentru că vă mărturisesc că am cerut explicații în legătură cu acest incident – o declarație oficială a Departamentului de Control al Administrației Penitenciarelor, în care mi s-a spus că, într-o ambuscadă, a fost agresat unul dintre inspectori și toate persoanele implicate în această ambuscadă au fost sancționate. Am văzut de asemenea că domnia sa a ieșit din greva foamei, ceea ce contrazice o serie de afirmații.

Eu cred, stimați colegi, că, atunci când redactăm o rezoluție care vizează drepturile omului într-un stat terț al Uniunii Europene, trebuie, în primul rând, să ne documentăm foarte clar, să ascultăm toate părțile, pentru că asta înseamnă spirit democratic, și să nu privilegiem o sursă de informare, pentru că există riscul, într-o lume în care dezinformarea și știrile false sunt regulă, ca această regulă să ni se aplice și nouă și să riscăm demersuri diplomatice care pot avea consecințe grave.

(Vorbitoarea a acceptat să răspundă unei întrebări adresate în conformitate cu procedura „cartonașului albastru” (articolul 162 alineatul (8) din Regulamentul de procedură))

 
  
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  Ana Gomes (S&D), blue-card question. – Ms Nicolai do you agree that it is absolutely unacceptable that the regime in Azerbaijan buys European politicians such as Mr Pedro Agramunt, who is now a senator in Spain, without any investigation into this ongoing corruption?

Do you agree that it is tremendously damning to the credibility of European politicians and European action if politicians allow themselves to be bought by the regime such as that of President Aliyev?

 
  
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  Norica Nicolai (ALDE), răspuns la o întrebare adresată în conformitate cu procedura „cartonașului albastru”. – Mulțumesc, Ana. Sunt absolut de acord cu tine. Nu știu care este situația politicianului spaniol. E prima dată când aflu acest lucru. Sper ca lucrurile să fie clarificate și să nu fim doar în prezența unor alegații care țin de comportamentul unor oameni politici, dar este clar: este de neacceptat și trebuie să privim cu obiectivitate.

Însă, în același timp, te rog să înțelegi demersul meu constructiv. Eu cred că este bine ca acești oameni să fie liberi, să nu fie în continuare în închisoare și supuși abuzurilor, pentru că, în felul acesta, noi, ca Parlament European, dovedim că am făcut ceva în mod concret pentru cetățeni.

 
  
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  Heidi Hautala, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – Mr President, this very important and proud South Caucasian nation celebrated one hundred years of its short independence less than a year ago. What happened was that, in the flanks of this ceremony four organisers of an independent independence rally were detained. Is this a republic that is newly created and wants to become an important player in the international community and have ever—closer ties to the European Union? Is this a country that, as a republic, is also entitled to protect the freedoms and rights of its citizens? This doesn’t always seem to be the case to me. I feel that we have a very special relationship with this country because our own grandmother was born in Baku 1916. She will be 103 years old in January and she tells wonderful stories about her childhood and about Azerbaijan.

We have to be aware that, at the same time as the EU is strengthening its contractual relationship with Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan is unfortunately turning away from its international commitments in the Council of Europe and the OSCE. It is not in vain that the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe and the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media are seriously concerned about the situation at the moment, notably about Mr Huseynov’s situation.

As the European Parliament, we really must call on the Commission and the External Action Service to do their utmost: if the Azerbaijani Government wants to have an ever—closer relationship with the EU, they must, unconditionally and immediately, free the political prisoners, including Mr Mehman Huseynov.

 
  
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  Jacques Colombier, au nom du groupe ENF. – Monsieur le Président, dans nos séances du jeudi matin, dites de bonne conscience, vous évoquez le cas du journaliste Mehman Huseynov. En effet, celui-ci vient de subir une peine de deux ans d’emprisonnement pour avoir dénoncé le régime autoritaire d’Aliyev. Oui, ce régime est autocratique, mais qu’a fait l’Union européenne vis-à-vis de ce régime?

Je rappellerai que, le 16 novembre 2016, le Conseil a confié à la Commission un mandat en vue de la négociation d’un accord global avec l’Azerbaïdjan. Le 7 février 2017, des négociations ont commencé après la visite du président Aliyev à Bruxelles. Le 11 janvier 2018, de nouvelles priorités de partenariat ont été adoptées: il est notamment prévu d’assouplir le régime des visas.

Nous savons que les dirigeants de l’Union européenne n’ont qu’une obsession: entraîner les nations et les peuples européens dans une nouvelle guerre froide contre la Russie. Ce faisant, comme toujours, les petits commandités de la politique des cénacles mondialistes visent à fragmenter le continent européen. Pour ce faire, ils n’hésitent pas à nouer, comme je viens de l’évoquer, des relations de plus en plus étroites avec le régime de Bakou.

Nous savons qu’un gazoduc est actuellement en construction entre l’Azerbaïdjan et les pays membres de l’Union européenne, alors que notre sécurité d’approvisionnement en hydrocarbures devrait plutôt passer par des accords avec la Russie. Pour l’Union européenne, donneuse de leçons, l’odeur des hydrocarbures l’emporte sur le droit de la personne.

Je voudrais savoir ce que notre collègue Norica Nicolai, rapporteure du rapport du Parlement européen sur ce nouvel accord européen avec l’Azerbaïdjan, pense de cette affaire. Si j’en crois le quotidien français Libération, elle aurait refusé de s’exprimer sur un autre cas précédent de violation des droits de l’homme en Azerbaïdjan, celui de Yunis Safarov, en renvoyant vers un article de l’Agence de presse azerbaïdjanaise, laquelle n’est rien d’autre, bien sûr, qu’un organe officieux du régime. Qu’en pensent les membres du groupe ALDE surtout prêts à nous donner, en général toujours, des leçons de démocratie?

Pour notre part, n’oublions pas le martyre du peuple arménien du Haut-Karabagh provoqué par le régime de Bakou. Pour nous, le véritable partenaire et ami des peuples européens dans le Caucase, c’est le peuple arménien. Alors, dépassons et dépassez le stade de la bonne conscience et mettez fin à ce rapprochement avec ce régime.

 
  
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  Csaba Sógor (PPE). – Mr President, along with endemic corruption, human rights abuses constitute a sad reality in Azerbaijan. According to Amnesty International, there are currently more than 100 political prisoners in the Southern Caucasus country, where the regime also holds a tight grip over the media.

According to the brother of the imprisoned blogger and human rights activist on hunger strike, ‘all well—known human rights defenders and journalists spend at least one or two years in prison’.

This practice is compounded by a common trend whereby Azeri authorities press new charges against political prisoners whose prison sentences are ending. We know that this is the fifth such case in recent months alone.

Azerbaijan has long tried to shield itself from Western criticism by using its strategic position as a regional ally in the war against terrorism as well as an important country for Europe in its quest to reduce its dependency on Russian gas. But it is also known that it uses lavish gifts and foreign trips for Western officials in an attempt to tone down criticism against the regime.

The EU should give a clear signal that it takes the rule of law, good governance and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in Azerbaijan seriously and should place these issues at the heart of the new EU—Azerbaijan agreement.

At present, it is vital that we ask for Mr Huseynov to be immediately and unconditionally released and that Azerbaijani authorities drop all new charges against him. We must also clearly call for the immediate and unconditional release from jail of all political prisoners, journalists, human rights defenders and other civil society activists.

 
  
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  Maria Grapini (S&D). – Domnule președinte, doamnă comisar, stimați colegi, de la bun început vreau să spun că moțiunea era necesară. Este o atenționare a statului Azerbaidjan legat de devierile de la respectarea principiilor drepturilor omului și altele.

Doresc să menționez, în același timp, importanța menținerii dialogului cu Azerbaidjan, nu numai în domeniile încălcării drepturilor omului, dar și în domenii precum: antiterorism, stabilitate regională, combaterea manipulării.

Moțiunea, de fapt, dorește să atragă atenția privind cazurile concrete de abateri de la principiile democratice la care s-a angajat Azerbaidjanul ca membru al Consiliului Europei. Am putut constata că există îngrijorări și din partea reprezentanților OECD, din partea reprezentanților mass-media.

Trebuie să spunem că Azerbaidjanul, ca membru al Adunării Parlamentare Euronest, are obligații. Fac parte din Adunarea Euronest și cunosc ce se cere tuturor țărilor din Parteneriatul estic. Noua președinție a Consiliului European își propune dezvoltarea Parteneriatului estic , dar, pentru aceasta, toate statele care fac parte din acest parteneriat trebuie să înțeleagă importanța însușirii cerințelor moțiunii de astăzi. Este o moțiune echilibrată, sunt prevăzute în textul rezoluției și lucrurile bune care s-au întâmplat: eliberarea din ultimii ani a mai multor personalități, apărători ai drepturilor omului, jurnaliști, activiști.

Cred foarte mult că drumul Azerbaidjanului trebuie să fie european, dar, pentru aceasta, evident, reprezentanții statului – și subliniez, reprezentanții statului, pentru că nu cetățenii de acolo au vreo vină – trebuie să coopereze și să respecte obligațiile din Convenția europeană a drepturilor omului. Anul trecut a existat o întâlnire, Comisia parlamentară de cooperare de la Baku, și s-au pus în discuție aceste teme. Eu cred că acordul UE-Azerbaidjan început în 1996 trebuie să continue.

 
  
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  Mark Demesmaeker (ECR). – Voorzitter, commissaris, ik stap niet mee in de redenering van sommigen van onze collega's hier die proberen om schending van universele mensenrechten te relativeren of te verbloemen met het argument dat er toch ook veel vooruitgang is, of vooruitgang is geweest. Kijk, Azerbeidzjan wordt 's werelds hofleverancier van vervolgde bloggers. Dat is een weinig benijdenswaardig exportproduct, maar dat lijkt de minste zorg van president Aliyev. Zo'n 150 politieke tegenstanders en journalisten zitten achter de tralies.

Vandaag roepen we op tot de vrijlating van een jonge activist. Mehman Huseynov heeft een kritische pen en houdt met zijn veelbesproken bijdrages via sociale media het regime een spiegel voor. Die biedt een allesbehalve fraai beeld. Want terwijl het volk van Azerbeidzjan worstelt met economische terugval en armoede, feest de politieke elite rond president Aliyev.

De prijs die Mehman betaalt voor zijn journalistieke werk is erg hoog. Op basis van verzonnen aanklachten zit hij al bijna twee jaar opgesloten. In maart moet hij vrijkomen. Dat dit niet naar de zin van dat regime is, blijkt uit nieuwe aanklachten die kunnen leiden tot extra celstraf tot zeven jaar.

Het is belangrijk dat de relatie tussen de EU en Azerbeidzjan versterkt wordt. Maar dat kan niet zonder extra aandacht te vestigen op het fundamentele belang van mensen- en burgerrechten, vrije media, enzovoort.

 
  
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  Margot Parker (EFDD). – Mr President, a free and vibrant press is a necessary component of any properly functioning democracy. When politicians are able to act without the scrutiny of such an important part of public life, a distance grows between the politicians and the people that they represent. Corruption can inherently follow.

Azerbaijan’s record in this area is poor. They are ranked 163rd in the World Press Freedom Index. Mehman Huseynov’s case is a saddening humaniser of what that statistic means in reality for those that attempt to lift the lid on corruption in Azerbaijan and open up politics to its people. In prison for nothing more than picturing luxury houses alleged to have been gained through corruption, Reporters Without Borders are warning he could die in prison as he goes on hunger strike on trumped up charges that continue to be brought up against him. Many more have joined this hunger strike.

It is time for the politicians to listen to the people and to begin to address the failures in democracy and to allow the development of a proper true free press for this country.

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE). – Mr President, I too condemn the current situation in Azerbaijan regarding the government’s violation of fundamental rights and freedoms of the press. The enforcement of censorship prohibiting criticism of the government is contrary to these freedoms and must be condemned. I also denounce the fact that political activists and journalists have repeatedly found themselves faced with new charges as they near the end of their prison sentences in a ploy to detain them for longer.

Azerbaijan’s participation in the EU’s Eastern Partnership and the commitments made in its membership of the Council of Europe are undermined by the actions of the Azerbaijani authorities. I therefore call on the Azerbaijani Government to fulfil its international obligations and comply with the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights in guaranteeing these rights and releasing those wrongly imprisoned, particularly Mr Huseynov, who has been referred to already by other speakers, and who has been on dry hunger strike since December 2018 in protest.

The practice of selective criminal prosecution must be ended and the censorship rules prohibiting criticism of the government removed. There is no place for such measures in a country that has committed itself to the rule of law, democracy and the protection of human rights, and wants to have closer relations with the European Union.

 
  
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  Julie Ward (S&D). – Mr President, the EU’s position on Azerbaijan needs to be much firmer. Civil society is operating in an extremely hostile environment. NGOs are closing down and independent voices are either imprisoned or forced to go into exile. Mehman is now on his 23rd day of hunger strike and his situation is very worrying. Having been subjected to torture several times, he is in a serious situation.

Over the past few months, there has been a worrying increase in the number of hunger strikes around the world: Leyla Güven, in Kurdistan and Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Narges Mohammadi in Iran, for instance. All are forced to take desperate measures.

High Representative, the urgency of the situation calls on you to make a public statement and urge the Azerbaijani authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mehman. The EU must name and shame any country that blatantly violates its human rights obligations, regardless of the economic ties it might share with the country. I also call on the EU and the Member States to impose sanctions, not only on the President, but also on its ministers who, until now, have not been targeted.

 
  
 

Intervenții la cerere

 
  
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  José Inácio Faria (PPE). – Mr President, Mehman Huseynov, blogger and director of the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety was jailed due to criticism of his country’s regime and criminal justice system.

Unfortunately this is not an isolated case. The authoritarian Government of Azerbaijan has virtually closed space for independent anti-corruption activism, critical journalism and opposition political activities, through prosecution, arbitrary arrests and unjust convictions.

This is not the first time we pass a resolution on Azerbaijan in this House, and I believe it is time to say ‘enough is enough’. It is now time for us to demand the government of Azerbaijan to end its persecution of civil society, to allow independent media to operate within the country and immediately to release Mr Huseynov and all other political prisoners and activists.

The EU has to take a clear stance here and stick to the principle of freedom of speech and respect for civil liberties, which stand at the very foundations of the EU itself. Human rights, Madam Commissioner, are not to be bargained and until this oppression and violation stops the EU must suspend all financial aid to the oppressive regime of Azerbaijan.

 
  
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  Jiří Pospíšil (PPE). – Pane předsedající, paní komisařko, já se chci připojit ke všem kolegům, kteří zde vyzývají k tvrdému postupu vůči Ázerbájdžánu v kauze uvězněného pana Hüsejnova.

Ale jako bývalý ministr spravedlnosti chci také dodat, že je třeba kritizovat Ázerbájdžán v širších souvislostech. A k tomu, jak nefunguje právní stát v této zemi, chci dodat, že v roce 2017 proběhla reforma právnických profesí v Ázerbájdžánu, která zabránila devíti z deseti právníků vykonávat advokátní profesi. Víceméně v Ázerbájdžánu nefunguje nezávislá advokacie, což je mimořádně důležitá, a političtí vězni tak nemají právní zastoupení u soudů. I toto bychom měli vnímat, protože součástí právního státu nejsou jenom nezávislé soudy, ale také nezávislá advokacie na státu, která hájí klienty i proti státní moci. A to bohužel v této zemi není, takže prosím, při debatě s ázerbájdžánskými představiteli kritizujme i reformu v roce 2017, která bourá nezávislou advokacii.

 
  
 

(Încheierea intervențiilor la cerere)

 
  
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  Cecilia Malmström, Member of the Commission. – Mr President, thank you for this possibility to discuss again the human rights situation in Azerbaijan. We have been following very closely, like you all have, this situation and the recent developments in the case of Mehman Huseynov. This came to our attention already in 2017. We made a statement then, and let me use this opportunity to tell you what we have been doing in recent days.

Following the demarche by the delegation of the European Union in Baku, and thanks to cooperation by the Azerbaijan authorities, the EU delegation, together with five Member States missions, visited Mr Huseynov in prison. The visit at the end of last week allowed us to establish that his life was not at immediate risk. He is receiving medical care and he has stopped his hunger strike.

Nevertheless, we do believe, like you, that the new charges against him for allegedly assaulting prison staff lack credibility and should be dropped. We are aware, as some of you raised, of other hunger strikes by activists. We are following up here with contacts with a lawyer and the prison services and I know that they had been visited by the Red Cross.

Over the past years the EU has placed considerable emphasis on the human rights situation in Azerbaijan. We do so in our political dialogue with the country, including high—level meetings at the EU Azerbaijan Subcommittee on Justice Affairs and Human Rights. The joint partnership priorities, as agreed in July last year, underscore that the rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms are key in our relationship. The new EU—Azerbaijan agreement currently being negotiated will have democratic reforms, the rule of law, good governance and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms at its core.

We remain all too aware of the considerable challenges relating to the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Azerbaijan. We believe that we should work on addressing them through dialogue, including through the negotiations on the new agreement. We need to have channels of communication to build mutual trust and engagement to effectively pursue our values and interests in Azerbaijan. While pursuing our engagement with the authorities, we are continuing to work closely with civil society organisations, independent media and human rights defenders to follow up on their concerns. We will continue to raise the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in all our dialogues and most notably during the upcoming meeting on justice affairs and human rights in Baku on 5 February. We will closely follow the developments in the case of Mehman Huseynov and other human rights defenders and journalists, including, for instance, Khadija İsmayilova, and will continue, of course, a close dialogue with all of you on this issues.

 
  
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  Președintele. – Dezbaterea a fost închisă.

Votul va avea loc la sfârșitul dezbaterilor.

 
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