Azerbaijan must respect human rights, Scholz tells Aliyev

Azerbaijan must respect human rights, Scholz tells Aliyev

PanARMENIAN.Net - Following a meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Berlin, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called for greater respect for human rights in the country, DPA reports.

"The German government is committed to upholding human rights worldwide, and that also applies to Azerbaijan," Scholz said at a joint press conference with Aliyev on Friday in response to a question from journalists.

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), human rights defenders and the media must be able to work "freely and without pressure" in the country, he said.

Scholz said he discussed the general situation in Azerbaijan with Aliyev and also raised individual cases.

"Of course, it is also no secret that we see a need for improvement, to put it that way," Scholz said.

Aliyev rejected the criticism, saying that human rights and media freedom are respected in his country, according to an official translation.

"There is no censorship in Azerbaijan. There is free internet in Azerbaijan. There are hundreds of media outlets in Azerbaijan," he said.

Accusing his country of restricting media freedom is unfounded and unfair, Aliyev said.

Aliyev has been the authoritarian leader of Azerbaijan for more than 20 years, and was last re-elected in a controversial February election in which he officially received more than 90% of the vote.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OCSE) has criticized increasing restrictions on freedom of assembly and expression in the country.

Numerous independent journalists are in prison, including Imram Aliyev, a reporter who worked as a freelancer for German public broadcaster ZDF.

Members of the German parliament's human rights committee issued a joint statement demanding the release of more than 300 political prisoners in Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan is scheduled to host the next UN Climate Change Conference in November. Aliyev's visit to Berlin was in part to join the Petersberg Climate Dialogue, which is being hosted by the German Foreign Office.

Photo. Reuters
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