Azerbaijani Government is committed to full internet freedom says senior official.

Elnur Aslanov

“Azerbaijan’s principled and consistent position is to create all conditions to fully ensure freedom of the Internet”, Azerbaijani Presidential Administration Political Analysis and Information Provision Department Head, Elnur Aslanov said. He was commenting on European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes’s statement on control over the internet and electronic media in Azerbaijan and restrictions on their dissemination. (see report in CEW, 20 November 2012.)

“The Internet Governance Forum, organized jointly by the UN and the Azerbaijani government, is a reaffirmation of importance that the Azerbaijani state attaches to the Internet and its free use,” Aslanov said, noting that it is due to the fact that the Internet has become an integral part of human activity, and an essential source of human development and innovation. “Independent activity of the Internet is its main value, and any society, both official authorities and institutions of civil society, should fully benefit that,” he said. According to Aslanov, Kroes’s statement contradicts Azerbaijan’s intentions and activities and causes fair questions about the purpose of that statement. “Azerbaijan holds a higher rank for Internet access compared to many countries — 65 percent,” he noted. The figure will inevitably increase in the near future due to steady growth in living standards of the population and development of the human factor. “Information access opportunities are expanding day by day. However, the information that the European institution’s official refers to, proceeds from a biased position. It is necessary to communicate in the field of electronic media not only with people holding oppositional views, but also with various media representatives, regardless of their political positions for correct evaluation of the objective reality.

Unfortunately, some European officials forget about this principle,” Aslanov said. He underlined that unlike some Western countries, Azerbaijan spends available financial resources for projects aimed at socio-economic development of the country, instead of tracking and getting information online through espionage. “This is a guarantee for the future prosperity of Azerbaijan and citizen’s possession of computer technologies having wider opportunities. Azerbaijan has no “Echelon” system, but there are development programs targeting the future,” Aslanov said. According to Aslanov, free access to Internet sites and free expression of thoughts by citizens on social networks has a significant impact on the relations between the state and citizens. He believes that imposing bans and censorship towards the Internet in different countries eventually led to weakening of public confidence in the state structures and has proved to be ineffective. Applying new technologies provides an opportunity to get necessary information overcoming such obstacles.

“We have always been against restrictions in the Internet and today we adhere to this position,” Aslanov underscored. “One of the important functions of the Internet is to ensure communication between state structures and citizens through electronic technology. Due to the fact that freedom of citizens is the essence of liberal democracy, free access to the Internet resources conditions emergence of a new concept — “online citizenship.” Azerbaijan, being committed to democratic principles and integrating into the European institutions benefiting the new capabilities of the Internet, is preparing a new period of its economic, political and social development. Future development concepts, on which Azerbaijani experts work, define development of the human factor as the main criterion. Our future is directly associated with mastering of contemporary technological progress by our citizens,” Aslanov said.

Source: Trend News Agency