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European Ombudsman Institute Slams Azerbaijani Media Distortion

EOI Refutes Azerbaijani Claims Artsakh Ombudsman was Kicked Out of the Organization

INNSBRUCK, Austria (A.W.)—The European Ombudsman Institute (EOI) recently issued a statement calling on Azerbaijani media outlets not to spread misinformation, after reports surfaced claiming that Azerbaijani Ombudsman Elmira Suleymanova had prevented Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabagh) Ombudsman Ruben Melikyan from speaking at the organization’s General Assembly in Bucharest.

A screenshot of one of the online articles out of Azerbaijan claiming that Artsakh’s Ombudsman was kicked out of the EOI. The Minval.az headline reads “Ombudsman of Armenian Separatists Kicked Out of European Institute”; it was published along with a photo mocking Artsakh Armenians (Photo: Minval.az)

“The EOI is only interested in Human Rights and Protection of them and not in political issues,” read a part of the statement signed by EOI Secretary General, Dr. Josef Siegele.

Some media reports out of Azerbaijan went as far as to claim that Suleymanova had successfully kicked Ombusdman Melikyan out of the EOI.

The EOI statement explains that members of the independent organization can be institutional, individual, or correspondent members on the basics of EOI bylaws. While Armenia and Azerbaijan are institutional members, Nagorno-Karabagh is registered as an individual member, represented by Melikyan.

In his statement, Secretary General Siegele also noted that Melikyan had not been kicked out of the organization, since the EOI does not get involved in political issues or allow the exertion of political influence within the organization.

Speaking to the Armenian Weekly, Ombudsman Melikyan said his office will be “proactive and participatory,” regardless of the spread of Azerbaijani misinformation. “Effective implementation of human rights standards requires the constant exchange of experience and practices, and as a part of the human rights global community we are not going to stand idly by. Rather, we are and we will be proactive and participatory,” Melikyan told the Armenian Weekly.

This is not the first time that the Azerbaijani media has recently been criticized for distorting information. Yesterday, member of Bulgarian Parliament and Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE-PA) Special Representative on the South Caucasus Kristian Vigenin accused Azerbaijani media outlets of misquoting him during a recent visit to Baku. Some media outlets in the Azerbaijani capital had claimed that Vigenin had called for a recomposition of the OSCE Minsk Group.

“During my recent trip to Azerbaijan, I was misquoted in local news media. While an immediate correction was requested and implemented, other news sources had already made use of the inaccurate information. Therefore, I have to reiterate that I have never suggested a recomposition of the OSCE Minsk Group,” Vigenin said in a statement.

Vigenin went on to say that he supported the mediation efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group and its co-chairs, and he vowed to continue to work on the parliamentary level to contribute to their efforts aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the conflict in Nagorno-Karabagh.

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