Our Analytics 14 february — 17:05

Double standard evident: OSCE teaches criticism, but itself doesn't tolerate it (Editorial)

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BY EDITORIAL OFFICE

At the meeting of the Central Election Commission (CEC) of the Republic of Azerbaijan held yesterday, 13 February, the accreditation of one of the observers from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), Ms Aygun Attar, was revoked.

The initiator of this procedure, which is noteworthy, was the ODIHR itself, represented by Peter Tejler, Chairman of the OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission in Azerbaijan. One must admit that the situation is rather unusual: the chief guard over the compliance of the Azerbaijani parliamentary elections with European standards asks to deprive one of the members of his team of observer status.

Aygun Attar

Naturally, the first questions arise for Mr Tejler himself: how did you gather your 'OSCE police team,' if you later demand from the Central Election Commission of the country you came to evaluate to revoke the accreditation of one of your team members? And is it worth to be trembling before and attentive to your assessments of the procedure for holding elections in other countries, if you cannot ensure order within your own team?

However, let us not be too strict with Mr Tejler: people are sometimes suddenly unpredictable, anything can happen, as if you would never think of a person, and it comes out differently.

So, the main intrigue is not that he decided to appeal to the CEC of Azerbaijan with a request to recognise one of the members of his team as unworthy of the status of 'OSCE police,' but the reason why Aygun Attar is suddenly transformed from a respectable observer, for whom all roads are open and various platforms provided to speak, into an 'outcast.'

And here we are faced with some strange unnatural phenomena. Which can be called selective democracy, one-sided objectivity, and most simply and precisely: double standards.

Thus, having arrived in Azerbaijan as part of the OSCE/ODIHR mission on 3 February, Ms Aygun Attar drew attention to the fact that her teammates were biased with respect to the upcoming elections to the Milli Majlis, moreover, they had already decided in advance that they would face many violations. In a word, it's all as usual: it's enough to recall that the 'OSCE police' traditionally sharply criticises any election in Azerbaijan. We quote: 'The election process did not meet the OSCE standards and the commitments made by Azerbaijan.'

This biased attitude and pre-formed negative attitude caused Aygun Attar to have serious concerns about the objectivity of the conclusions that can be made when evaluating the elections to the Milli Majlis. Recall that Ms Attar is a historian, and by no means one of the minor ones. She is the author of a number of widely cited works and the winner of the prestigious Oxford University Socrates Award, which in professional circles is valued as a kind of Nobel Prize. And should she not know how bias and partiality are reflected in documents and declarations.

She shared her fears on social networks, and, it should be emphasised, in fairly correct terms, without a touch of scandalousness and dramatisation, saying only that 'bias will damage objectivity.' And already on 11 February, the election day, she learned that the leadership of the OSCE/ODIHR mission intended to annul her status as an international observer. For omissions in work? No, it was precisely for the personal opinion expressed, in which the attitude of the 'police team' from Europe was criticised correctly from the position of a scientist-historian.

Peter Tejler's selective democracy

And someone says that Mr Peter Tejler does not like the ODIHR's description as the 'OSCE police' launched by journalists. In our opinion, it's quite the opposite: he is quite proud of this unofficial name and even introduces corporate ethics of the police and special services in the observer teams, such as unanimity, subordination and maximum loyalty to the structure, which members of the observation mission are 'given a great honour to get into.'

Criticism from this structure towards another country, a mentoring tone and teachings on the topic 'what kind of democracy you should have' can be sounded as much as one likes, at least several times a day and not really choosing polite expressions. But criticism of the structure itself - albeit the most cautious - must never be, and is threatened with expulsion from the ranks and subsequent public obstruction.

Let's say more: the OSCE and its structures like to flirt with the local opposition, be it in Azerbaijan, or in any other country, and subtly send its protest against the authorities 'to stimulate the democratic process and actualise the competitive political struggle.' No, these are by no means calls for rallies and acts of disobedience, after all, this is Europe, the 21st century. It is enough to hint to the complainants - and there are always more than enough of them in any election - to go and express their dissatisfaction in front of the Central Election Commission building.

Somewhat illegal. Well, the OSCE's Baku Office has nothing to do with it, the loser candidates came there themselves, 'we in the ODIHR don't approve of them, but only morally support them.'

In a word, continuous double standards and an extremely broad interpretation of the goals of the observer mission and, in general, the mandate of the OSCE representation. In conjunction with the Aygun Attar case, the impression is formed that something is clearly wrong with the 'advocates and guides of democracy,' whom a certain part of the Azerbaijani public perceives almost as 'gurus from the civilised world.' Some kind of unsightly underside and some wormhole more and more noticeable to the naked eye.

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