The Guardian has published a letter by Azerbaijani Ambassador to the UK Tahir Taghizade in response to several biased reports recently published by the newspaper.
“On 12 June, my country welcomed more than 6,000 athletes from all over Europe to compete in this new multi-sports event. This is a great occasion for people in Azerbaijan and Europe to join in the celebrations of the universal ideals of sport in a relatively new member of the European community of nations. By hosting the first pan-European games, Azerbaijan has shouldered responsibility to set the highest possible standards for the next games,” the Ambassador said in his letter.
“However, it is disappointing when we are confronted with baseless allegations concerning non-sports issues by human rights groups and the media. I would like to make it clear that Azerbaijan is determined to pursue its strategic course that aims to build a vibrant civil society and strong democracy. Not because we want to please our critics, but because it is a choice consciously made in line with the interests of Azerbaijan.”
Mr Taghizade said: “Over the last few days we have witnessed harsh and unethical language used in relation to Azerbaijan and its head of state. I condemn the media’s choice of scornful and disrespectful expressions used in connection with my country.”
“When it comes to specific allegations, such as the refusal to accredit the sports correspondent of the Guardian (Report, 12 June), I have to underline the need to respect internal accreditation procedures of the Baku 2015 organising committee. Each press accreditation application is considered separately and there are specific clearance criteria that need to be met before an issuance of press accreditation. It is also unfortunate that our suggestion to Amnesty International to postpone its mission to Baku to a later date has been conveyed to the media as barring AI from entering Azerbaijan (Report 11 June). It goes without saying that for the mission to engage with government officials at a time when the country hosts such a large scale sports event is effectively impossible, both time-wise and logistics-wise,” said the Ambassador.