Azerbaijan Accuses PACE Of Bias, Suspends Cooperation With Council Of Europe's Legislative Body

Azerbaijani troops march during a military parade in Khankendi, known by Armenians as Stepanakert, in Nagorno-Karabakh, on November 8.

Azerbaijan on January 24 said it was suspending its cooperation with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) amid deteriorating relations with Brussels.

In a statement, the Azerbaijani delegation to the PACE said the Strasbourg-based legislative body was “being used as a platform to target some member states.”

The decision came two days after Germany’s Frank Schwabe challenged the credentials of the Azerbaijani delegation on the opening day of PACE’s 2024 winter session.

Schwabe specifically raised concerns about the status of political prisoners in Azerbaijan and cited the “violent displacement of people” from Nagorno-Karabakh following Azerbaijan’s recapture of the ethnic Armenian-dominated region. More than 100,000 ethnic Armenians fled Nagorno-Karabakh after Azerbaijan recaptured the territory in September 2023.

The German representative also pointed out that PACE rapporteurs had been unable to visit Azerbaijan on at least three occasions in 2023.

The Azerbaijani delegation complained in its statement that “core principles of the PACE are exploited by certain biased groups to advance their narrow interests.” It further charged that "political corruption, discrimination, ethnic and religious hatred, double standards, arrogance, chauvinism have become prevailing practice in the PACE.”

The delegation accused the PACE of exhibiting “Azerbaijanophobia and Islamophobia,” creating what it described as an “unbearable atmosphere” that it said contributed to Baku’s decision to “cease its engagement with and presence at the PACE until further notice.”

Azerbaijan’s decision to leave the PACE comes amid growing tensions with the European Union as Baku accuses Brussels of “bias” toward Yerevan as Armenia and Azerbaijan try to normalize relations.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on January 10 rejected a proposal by Armenia to use Soviet-era maps drawn in the 1970s to delineate borders, claiming that Azerbaijani territories had been handed to Armenia by the Soviet authorities.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on January 22 criticized Aliyev’s “territorial claims” and warned that there would be “severe consequences” if Armenia’s territorial integrity was violated.

The following day, Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry said Borrell’s comments amounted to a “blatant misinterpretation of facts” and accused the chief EU diplomat of engaging in “threatening rhetoric.”