FLNCA Representatives Tell Brussels:
"Don’t Trade European Values For Oil And Gas"
Three representatives of Federal Lezghin National and Cultural Autonomy (FLNCA) have raised the issues facing the Lezghin community in five full days of meetings in Brussels between 22 and 26 April 2013.
FLNCA President Arif Kerimov, Vice‐President Ruslan Kurbanov and Head of the International Department Tatyana Chubrikova engaged in constructive discussions with Members of the European Parliament, European officials, political advisers, academics and representatives of NGOs in meetings held across Brussels.
During their first visit to Brussels, Mr Kerimov familiarised the meeting participants with the background of the Lezghin people and their history before outlining the problems that the community currently faces in Azerbaijan. These issues include human rights violations, the jailing of political prisoners, expropriation of land and property, cultural assimilation and the lack of Lezghin schools, radio stations, newspapers and cultural institutions.
The FLNCA, and indeed a number of meeting participants, noted that the European Union was often willing to ignore the blatant human rights abuses and undemocratic nature of the Aliyev regime, which has ruled Azerbaijan for decades, because of the country’s wealth in natural resources. Mr Kerimov urged the European institutions not to trade European values of democracy, tolerance and respect for human rights for oil and gas.
A clear outcome from the meetings was the need to provide the European institutions and NGOs with detailed information and case studies from Azerbaijan regarding the regular human rights violations perpetrated against the Lezghin and other minorities, including Talysh, Avars and Tats. The Azeri government’s tight control over the media is often preventing important stories of repression from reaching European ears.
The FLNCA delegation headed for Geneva on Saturday, 27 April 2013, to participate in the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on the human rights situation in Azerbaijan in order to raise the issue of the suppression of the Lezghin people.