We Do Not Reject Dialogue, but Dialogue Should Be Substantive - Ali Karimli

Baku / 29.04.20 / Turan: The Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan (PFPA) rejects violent methods and does not accept unethical expressions in the political struggle.

The Popular Front Party is not against dialogue with the authorities, but believes that the conversation should be substantive about pressing issues and the process should not be reduced to taming the opposition. These theses were emphasized by PFPA leader Ali Karimli in a video interview with the well-known journalist Arif Aliyev in the Rakurs Pressklub TV program.

Karimli said that under quarantine conditions he was completely blocked in his apartment.

So, from April 13, he had disconnected the Internet, telephone communications, and journalists coming to him for an interview were detained and attacked.

However, Karimli pointed out that it is impossible to establish a completely informational blockade in modern life.

And even after disconnecting his Internet, he gave at least 9-10 interviews.

Touching upon the reasons for the “information blockade,” he pointed out the erroneous assertion of the authorities that Karimli, supposedly in quarantine, was misleading the people.

“How can we mislead people if all the TV channels, radio, newspapers, dozens, hundreds of online media and social pages on the Internet belong to the authorities? But apparently they were bothered by my Internet media interviews, which collected tens and hundreds of thousands of views. But, I did not go beyond ethics and did not violate laws. I just demanded serious social protection for the population under quarantine and pointed to the availability of funds from the state to ensure these measures,” Karimli said.

What prevents the atmosphere of dialogue? Maybe this is the language of hate and the mutual demonization of power and its opponents?

Commenting on this issue, Karimli said the erroneous policy of the authorities is at the root of this problem.

“It was because of the erroneous policy of the government that the national free press was practically destroyed, and the last independent newspaper Azadlig was closed in 2016. This was a big mistake of the authorities in terms of their own interests. In recent years, a free word has had the opportunity to spread widely as never before. Alternative opinions have the potential to spread as widely as they did not when dozens of newspapers appeared in the country. The critical voices squeezed out of the country have moved abroad, where there is no responsibility. And when independent media were in the country, there was some kind of regulation, fines were imposed, there was responsibility and, to some extent, there was ethical self-censorship.

As a result, in place of the destroyed free media in the country, the authorities received radicalized media abroad,” Karimli said.

The journalist Aliyev noted in this connection that after the dismissal of 1-2 officials, the language in the media of political emigrants and in social networks has changed, but although swearing has decreased there, it has not completely disappeared. Some of them impersonate Karimli supporters.

Karimli himself said they have absolutely nothing to do with him.

“This has absolutely nothing to do with me. My accounts on WhatsApp, Telegram and Signal are stolen. And if they would have discovered some kind of connection between me and those who abroad use curses against the authorities, now this would have been made public long ago. We in our party made a decision on the unacceptability of unethical expressions and, especially, abuse in our vocabulary. I told my supporters: "Do not talk about others what you do not consider acceptable to say in your family." If someone admits this, then for the first time he is punished within the framework of party discipline. If the person repeats this, then he is expelled from the organization,” Karimli said.

Touching upon the policy of the authorities regarding opponents, he noted that “the action causes opposition”.

“They destroyed the national press in our country, but received radical media abroad. They want to destroy the real opposition, but then they will receive the radicalization of the masses,” Karimli said.

Is a dialogue possible between the authorities and the opposition that Karimli represents, or are bridges already burnt?

“We do not refuse dialogue,” Karimli said, stressing that he means the Popular Front Party and the National Council of Democratic Forces.

According to him, when Adalat Veliyev, head of the Presidential Administration department, invited the PFPA to a meeting, Karimli authorized his deputy Seymour Hazy for this.

“But we believe that dialogue should be substantive. Over the years there have been many imitations of dialogue. All this ultimately led to the "sale and purchase" and "constructivization" of the opposition," said Karimli.

He noted that the Popular Front Party identified 4 topics for dialogue:

- Discussion of electoral reform;

- Release of political prisoners;

- The resolution of the Karabakh conflict and issues of ensuring the country's security;

- Ensuring freedom of assembly.

“But the dialogue should not pursue the goal of how to silence the opposition or outbid it,” Karimli said.

He noted that he is a realist and understands that it is impossible to immediately reach agreement on the issues he has listed.

“We are not saying that we will solve everything right away. But let the authorities announce a roadmap for the process that will fully ensure freedom and human rights and the rule of law, and the necessary judicial reforms that have to be carried out,” Karimli said.

He emphasized that the government, with its broad powers and colossal resources, could not appoint the opposition on its own.

“The opposition is appointed by the disaffected part of the people,” Karimli said.

In his opinion, talking with the opposition in the language of threats is not a way out of the situation.

The Popular Front Party, in his words, stands for peaceful constitutional means of political struggle, and the main goal is the freedom and well-being of the people.

“We should all be united by a national idea and the creation of a state that ensures the rights and well-being of everyone,” Karimli said.    —06D-


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