As democracy is being called into question by many voices around the world, election integrity is of utmost importance to us all.

President Lord Peter Bowness

The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.

President Lord Peter Bowness
The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly

Via e-mail

RE: Mr. Azay Guliyev
Special co-ordinator and leader of OSCE observer mission

Dear Lord Bowness:

Ahead of a most important Albanian national election, I write to you with concern over your appointment of Azay Guliyev as the special coordinator overseeing election observance. His ties to Prime Minister Edi Rama and other external allegiances are cause for concern, drawing into question his capacity to act impartially and prevent fraud or other nefarious activity on election day.

Hailing from Azerbaijan, Mr. Guliyev has a decade-long relationship with Delina Fico, the former romantic partner of Edi Rama, who is the incumbent prime minister on the ballot for the Socialist Party of Albania. To this day, Rama and Fico remain closely linked – Rama even appointed Ms. Fico’s new husband, Minister of Agriculture during his tenure.

Ms. Fico manages the East-West Management Institute fund, which has operated for many years in Azerbaijan. While serving as Azerbaijan’s Chairman of the Council on State Support to NGOs, Mr. Guliyev signed a memorandum of understanding on behalf of the Socio-Economic Development Activity of Azerbaijan, implemented by the East-West Management Institute. Numerous media outlets have reported on meetings and cooperation in this capacity.

Ms. Fico also oversees most of George Soros’ funds in the region, and she has awarded NGOs linked to Mr. Guliyev more than $600,000 over the years. During his 2015 parliamentary campaign, she also awarded him $300,000 for projects meant for rural areas in Azerbaijan, which instead ended up in his district. This funding directly benefited him and his candidacy at the time.
The fact that Mr. Guliyev not only knows Ms. Fico well but has also profited from their connection for years undermines any credibility around election integrity. His proximity to her is not just a conflict of interest; it is a de facto violation of your own OSCE Code of Conduct, which states that observers must maintain “strict” political impartiality at all times. If the coordinator tasked with overseeing observers is himself compromised, how can he have any credibility in this capacity and in ensuring that others act in accordance with OSCE mandates?

With just days left before Albanians cast their ballots, our community implores you to reconsider your empowerment of Azay Guliyez in this role. His involvement will raise questions around the legitimacy of the outcome – questions that could be easily avoided with the selection of a truly impartial coordinator. As democracy is being called into question by many voices around the world, election integrity is of utmost importance to us all. Citizens will not feel confident in results if even remote questions remain. The world is watching, and Albania cannot afford to come under fire yet again.

Yours sincerely,

Evi Kokalari

Ne foto Delina Fico dhe Azay Guliyev ne 2012 ne Azerbaijan

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