Region Can Overcome Differences

OSCE PA Special Representative on South East Europe Azay Guliyev

Interview with Albanian Daily News

Published 18 May 2022

- Mr. Vice President, welcome to Tirana. You lastly visited Albania on the occasion of April 25 general elections last year. I recall the OSCE report on the elections pointed out the need to thoroughly probe the cases of vote buying, highlighted the massive personal data leak (and SP’s data gathering on voter preferences and their weak spots). Meanwhile the work of CEC received appraisal. Will you address these issues this time; could you tell us more on your agenda?

OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Special Representative on South East Europe Azay Guliyev:

 First of all, I am glad to be back in Albania after a year and it is very nice to meet your political leaders. Last year, I was here in the capacity of the Special Co-ordinator of the OSCE short-term observers mission in Albania, and this time I am in the capacity of the OSCE PA Special Representative on South East Europe. In my meetings in Tirana, we discussed the recommendations of the OSCE/ODHIR that were produced after last year’s elections. My colleagues from the majority and opposition have ensured me that they will work together in the committee for the electoral reforms and their work will take into consideration the recommendations from the OSCE/ODIHR.

- I understand internal political developments are also part of your discussions in Tirana. Mr Vice President, as you may know, the opposition’s Democratic Party is undergoing a deep rift following the US State Department’s designation of its historic leader. May I ask you, which is you view on these designations, which actually have affected the whole Western Balkans; which is the OSCE stance toward the designated individuals vis a vis their political engagement?

Azay Guliyev: As you might know that we, as OSCE PA, promote dialogue, and the most important dialogue in democracy is dialogue between political parties. A meaningful dialogue between parties can support independent institutions such as prosecutors and courts. The OSCE Presence in Albania is working with the authorities to increase the capacities and professionalism of the justice system, so that independent institutions deal with individual cases. We, as OSCE PA, do not interfere into internal political affairs. However, participating states of the OSCE can make their own sovereign decisions regarding political leaders from third countries. I am certainly not referring to anyone specifically. More in general, we strongly encourage state institutions of Albania and other countries of this region to continue fighting corruption and organized crime, making sure that persons who are recognized by the court as corrupt do not play a role in the political life.

- You just arrived from Skopje. Our Eastern neighbors have also experienced some interesting, dynamic developments, changes in the executive leadership etc. North Macedonia is doing better than Albania according to recent Media Freedom reports, as well as regarding to fight against corruption. Nevertheless, its EU integration journey – and Albania’s – are stalled because of the Bulgarian veto. Do you have a comment on that?

Azay Guliyev: When it comes to media, what I can say is that media plays a special role; free media is a cornerstone of any democracy. It is even crucial to fighting corruption and crime. I am not necessarily a media expert, but I acknowledge the continuous work of the OSCE Presence in Albania with the state institutions, civil society, media and these issues can be addressed to them too.
The second part of the question refers to what you call the Bulgarian veto. I cannot comment on this point, since this is a process taking place within the EU and not the OSCE, according to the EU internal rules. As a politician, I can only underline once again the value of dialogue and the sense of purpose.

- Mr. Guliyev, you come from a country which is no stranger to security challenges; the war in Ukraine has changed Europe’s perceptions on collective security, need for joint action and integration. Do you think the current situation calls for a swift change in EU enlargement policy, integrating Western Balkans - of course, respecting each country’s progress – and cutting short of the immense bureaucratic red tape of the last two decades?

Azay Guliyev: As I said in my previous answer, I cannot respond on behalf of EU and is member states. As Vice President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, I gladly encourage all the South Eastern European OSCE participating States to work on the further enhancement of rule of law, undertake needed reforms in order to reach OSCE highest standards. When the EU standards coincide with the OSCE’s highest standards, that is something that we can only salute collectively.

We think that through EU integration, Western Balkan countries can overcome the disputes they faced in recent history, and we support all means for sustainable peace in the South Eastern European region. After my visit to this part of the region, I noticed that the relations between countries have improved and there is readiness amongst them for better co-operation.

- Mr Vice President, one last question. If you had time to process it, I would like to have a comment on the last proposal of French President Macron, who only on 9 May recommended the creation of a “European political community”, that would include the EU, other democracies such as the Great Britain, but also EU hopeful candidates such as the Western Balkans and Ukraine.

Azay Guliyev: I have carefully read what the French President Emanuel Macron said on 9 May, on Europe Day and I find it particularly interesting. I very much look forward to the debate that will stem at European level following his proposal. From my end, and from the perspective of the OSCE PA, I strongly believe in political dialogue, possibly evolving into a political community. It is certainly never an easy objective. It depends on the political will of the countries participating in it. Political will is at the grassroots of any community and international organization.
When I look at the Western Balkans region, I recognize that despite some difficulties or tensions, relations between countries are improving and I can praise political parties and governments for their efforts in building good neighbourly relations.



Nat Parry

Head of Communications and Press

Office: +45 33 37 80 55
Mobile: +45 60 10 81 77
Email: [email protected]

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