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Interview 2013
NDIs Eurasia director about recent campaign against the organization in Azerbaijan

NDIs Eurasia director about recent campaign against the organization in Azerbaijan

2013 March 13 ( Wednesday )  17:10:30
 Azərbaycan

 

Laura Jewett, NDI’s regional director for Eurasia, commented on the recent campaign against the organization’s branch office and its regional director in Azerbaijan. In an interview with TURAN’s Washington DC correspondent, Ms. Jewett stated that the NDI is fully transparent in reporting all of its expenditures and activities and is fully compliant with local laws… Suggestions that the NDI is involved in any other activities “are completely false”.
 
Q. A recent campaign against the NDI launched in pro-government media, basically accuses the organization of planning "a $2 million color revolution" through social media.What would be your response to that? Why do you think NDI's name is being used in this case?
 
A. As NDI President Kenneth Wollack said, “Recent articles in some Azerbaijani media outlets have used distortions and utter fabrications to describe NDI and its resident director.” “This does more to discredit the professionalism of the authors than their intended targets.”
 
NDI has operated in Azerbaijan since 1995. The Institute's programs are nonpartisan and NDI seeks neither to support pro-government nor anti-government forces. Activities in recent years have focused on helping civil society organizations, young future leaders, and other citizens to
cooperate peacefully and constructively with local governments to improve their communities.
 
Q. It is not first time that the Azeri government and pro-government media target NDI and other international NGOs by accusing them of "interfering into the country's internal politics..." What should the Azeri people know about international NGOs, their activities, goals in the country especially in cases such as NDIs? And what do all these mean in the election year for the country? And what do all these mean in the election year for the country?
 
A. NDI's programs have promoted dialogue to improve local infrastructure, such as roads, lights, utilities, and parks, and provided opportunities for citizens in the form of classes, book clubs, social awareness campaigns, and environmental projects.. The Institute also supports the efforts
of Azerbaijani citizens to protect the integrity of their political processes through nonpartisan domestic election monitoring. The Institute is not interested in particular electoral outcomes.
 
NDI is fully transparent in reporting all of its expenditures and activities and is fully compliant with local laws. Suggestions that NDI is involved in any other activities are completely false.
 
Q. The recent accusations are also followed by proposal in the Parliament to limit options for the foreign aid for local NGOs, like neighboring Russia did just recently... Do you see any connection between this event and the proposed law? Some local analysts fear that there will be possible reduction in Azerbaijan-related NDI projects. What would be your answer to such concerns?
 
A. A vibrant, constructive civil society provides a foundation for economic and social advances. In order to comply with international commitments, such as the Copenhagen Document of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and to pursue national progress, any laws addressing the activities of nongovernmental organization should facilitate exchanges of information and cooperation among Azerbaijani organizations and their counterparts in other countries.
 
Legislation that interferes with such exchanges and cooperation is detrimental to the development of civil society in Azerbaijan and to the country’s economic and social growth.
 
Q. How do you see the future of NDI in Azerbaijan?
 
A. We hope that NDI will continue to have the privilege of working in Azerbaijan with citizens committed to a bright future for their country.
 
Alakbar Raufoglu
Washington, DC
03/13/2013

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