24 members of the youth wing were trained on ideology and policy making (Principles of a Free Society) by Patrik Strömer, Associate Director at Kreab Gavin Anderson, Clara Wahren, Advisor to Stockholm County Council CEO on Strategic International Affairs, Milos Aligrudic, Vice president of DSS and Former Vice chairman of the Council of Europe, Petar Ladjevic, Former Head of the State Agency for Human and Minority Rights and Aleksandar Popovic, Vice president of DSS. (more…)
“Holding Eurovision Song Contest in Azerbaijan fostered hopes for positive developments in the country”, said National Independence Party of Azerbaijan (NIPA), opposition party and cooperation partner of the Hjalmarson Foundation. “While all of Europe focused on Azerbaijan, the Azerbaijani authorities took no step towards creating a good image of themselves. Political prisoners, including the political prisoners imprisoned in April, 2011, were not released. As before freedom of assembly and freedom of speech were associated with serious problems: imprisonment as well as beating of journalists and violations of property rights that continued even more aggressively.” (more…)
Stephen B. Nix, Director of Eurasia programs at the International Republican Institute (IRI) in Washington DC, testified on May 17 before the U.S. Helsinki Commission, on the political situation in Ukraine as the country prepares for parliamentary elections in October 2012. Mr. Nix highlighted the backsliding of democracy that Ukraine has witnessed under President Victor Yanukovych. “If left unchecked, the trends set by Ukraine’s current leadership will move the country toward greater centralization and consolidation of power—that is, toward authoritarianism,” Stephen Nix stated.
Read about the testimony on IRI:s home page
May 24-27, youth politicians from Eastern Europe and Sweden met at Hotel Utsikten in Nynäshamn, Sweden, to discuss Principles for a Free Society. The 21 participants, representing center-right political parties in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia and Moldova, discussed their countries’ and the regions’ challenges together with their Swedish counterparts. The conference was chaired by professor Nigel Ashford from the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University in Washington DC. (more…)
To join the Council of Europe, a country must be both European and democratic, states European Stability Initiative (ESI) in the report Caviar Diplomacy – How Azerbaijan silenced the Council of Europe. In the report the struggle is made obvious between representatives of the parliamentary assembly (PACE) that are defending the state of Azerbaijan’s democracy and praising its elections in public, and those that are exceedingly critical about the state of democracy in Azerbaijan.
The two opposing camps don’t seem to describe the same incidents:
Michael Hancock, Liberal Democrat from Great Britain in a debate in PACE, January 2011, who had also been in Baku, praised the elections and the work done by Wille and Iwinski: “I was proud to be at the  elections in Azerbaijan. The best you can say about any election in any country – in Europe, or anywhere else in the world – is that on the day following the election, the majority of people have the result that the majority want”. About the same elections Audrey Glover, Head of the OSCE-ODHIR Election Observation Mission to Azerbaijan, stated that “regrettably, our observation of the overall process shows that the conditions necessary for a meaningful democratic election were not established.”
Following the 2010 election, 19 civil society organizations in Azerbaijan sent a petition to PACE and the OSCE parliamentary assembly saying that Grossruck’s and Wille’s statements, had “caused deep regret and concern.”
Paul Wille told journalists that the elections were “mostly in line with our own … standards and commitments.” He praised the “positive environment,” the efficiency and transparency of electoral administration, “impressive voter education campaign,” the lack of violence, and the technical aspects of the election organization. Wolfgang Grossruck, at the same press conference in Baku, praised the cooperation of the authorities. He described Azerbaijan as a “beautiful” country. He added, almost apologetically, that “it would be surprising not to detect shortcomings.” He explained that “when we criticize the conduct of these elections this does not mean that we have not seen the many efforts the authorities have made in the many areas in which the country does well.” He then read the passage about these elections “not constituting non-meaningful progress.”
The authors of the petition insisted on obtaining an explanation of the methodology applied by PACE and OSCE PA observers. They never received a response.
Only about two weeks after Vladimir Putin returned to Russia’s presidency, a new controversial law will most likely be introduced which increases fines for illegal demonstrations. The though bill, that was introduced by the ruling United Russia party, proposes that fines for participation in illegal protests would increase from 2.000 rubles to 1 million rubles (from about $60 to $30.000), with penalties for organizers climbing from 5,000 rubles to 1.5 million rubles. The first reading of the law took place in the Duma last week. The second reading of the bill is set for June 5, and the third reading can be held the same day, Moscow Times reported. (more…)
Presidential candidate Tomislav Nikolic has won the presidential run-off in Serbia with 50 percent of the votes, while his opponent Boris Tadic got 47 percent, the Republic Electoral Commission (RIK) stated late on Sunday. The results are based on about 53 percent processed polling stations. The turnout was 47 percent. The final result will be announced within four days RIK announced.
It was a democratic election and we have to acknowledge the results, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt wrote on his blog “Alla dessa dagar” on Monday. “But that doesn’t reduce a considerable concern” about the future. Carl Bildt wrote about the risk that “forces with a different agenda than European reforms and reconciliation” might get hold in the region. Adding that the makeup of Serbia’s next government “is obviously of great importance, and there may still be a government based on a different majority than the one that gave Nikolic the victory”. (more…)
On 11 -13 of May Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation arranged a conference in Sarajevo in co-operation with PDP, one of the two Bosnian parties that the foundation works with. The participants were young candidates and campaign managers and the focus was on preparing for the local elections in October. The speaker was Oscar Öholm, MP, Kristoffer Tamsons, senior consultant at Hallvarsson & Halvarsson and Sebastian Tham, press secretary. (more…)