13 February 2014
Update: advocacy campaign for a Europe without political prisoners
Ilham Aliyev: "There are no political prisoners in Azerbaijan" (15 January 2014). Video: NATO

At a joint press point with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen Azerbaijan's president Ilham Aliyev stated that "there are no political prisoners in Azerbaijan" and added "that the definition of political prisoners if adopted by European Parliament or by Council of Europe would be a good idea. Then it would be very easy to identify who is political prisoner and who is not." More background on political prisoners in Azerbaijan and the definition of political prisoner can be found in ESI's Azerbaijan country section and here:

In the past few months the Guardian, the Economist, and many other international media reported on ESI's research on Azerbaijan's caviar diplomacy and the failure of international election monitoring in Azerbaijan. Last December, ESI's Ben Judah and Gerald Knaus published an opinion piece in Reuters: "International pressure works on Putin".

On 11 February EurActiv and other media reported that the European Parliament's ethics committee is probing a group of MEPs who are suspected of accepting favours from Azerbaijan during an electoral observation mission there in October 2013. EurActiv wrote: "In a report published in November, the European Stability Initiative, a think-tank, had already rung the alarm about the way the Azeri elections were being monitored more generally."

On 13 February, ESI's Gerald Knaus met with the new Commissioner for human rights of the German government, Christoph Strässer, in Berlin, to discuss advocacy for a "Europe without political prisoners."

Gerald Knaus and Christoph Stässer
Gerald Knaus and Christoph Stässer
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Alan Grant is an Irish photographer who travelled extensively in the Balkans and other countries and regions of the world. Thanks to him, ESI is able to show fascinating pictures of the Balkans: the facades of Tirana, the painted mosques of Travnik, the fabulous old houses of Plovdiv and the spectacular blue of water - dark in the Bay of Kotor, emerald in the river valleys of Bosnia, deep blue in Ohrid, twinkling in the Aegean Sea and on the Bosporus.

You can find out more about Alan Grant on his websites:
Jonathan Lewis lives between London and Istanbul. He moved to London and spent many years studying photography and now specialises in photojournalism, documentary photography and commercial work for a wide variety of private and commercial clients in the UK, Europe and Turkey. His work has appeared in a number of magazines and publications and is used on the ESI website as well.

You can find out more about Jonathan Lewis on his website www.jonathanlewisphoto.com