Anne Brasseur: Azerbaijan should meet its obligations to the Council of Europe

Azerbaijan, joining the Council of Europe, voluntarily assumed obligations in the field of democracy, the rule of law and human rights, and they are not only political but also legal in nature and binding. This was announced at a press conference on 24 September by the end of the visit to Azerbaijan of the PACE President Anne Brasseur. She said about the lack of legal guarantees of functioning for strong opposition, without which democracy is impossible.

Brasseur also focused attention on the recent arrests of civil society activists in Azerbaijan.

Brasseur said that during the three-day visit to Azerbaijan, she met with the President, the Speaker of Parliament, representatives of political parties in Parliament, the Minister of Justice, Attorney General, civil society activists and imprisoned persons.

According to her, in the course of the meetings in the parliament the main topic of discussion was the Karabakh conflict.

"The territorial integrity of member countries cannot be a subject of discussion, and this principle should be respected with regard to all member countries of the Council of Europe," said Brasseur.

However, she noted that the conflict can be resolved through dialogue and CE supports the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group.

Brasseur said that delegations of Azerbaijan and Armenia act in PACE and the Assembly can contribute to the resolution of the conflict through dialogue. At the same time, she recalled that in 2005, PACE adopted a resolution on the Karabakh conflict.

Recall that the resolution adopted on the basis of the report of the British MP Lord Atkinson expressed support for the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

Brasseur further noted the need for the implementation of Azerbaijan's commitments to the Council of Europe, which are binding.

According to her, the errors and shortcomings in this issue are available in other countries, and their removal is necessary. To do this, there are mechanisms and in particular in the case of Azerbaijan Action Plan for 2016. As noted by Brasseur, now the Baku office of the Council of Europe, together with the Ministry of Justice is working on its implementation.

Azerbaijan, joining the Council of Europe, voluntarily assumed obligations in the field of democracy, the rule of law and human rights, and they are not only political but also legal in nature, and binding.

Brasseur particularly focused attention on the shortcomings of the electoral system of Azerbaijan. According to her, in the conditions when the parliamentary elections are held by the majority system people for whom there are no resources or strong structures do not fall within the legislature.

In her opinion, so in the Parliament of Azerbaijan there is no strong opposition.

She believes that every democratic country needs a strong democracy.

In addition, according to Brasseur, the role of parliament should not be only to the adoption of laws, but also the monitoring of the government. While this is not available, there will be no democracy, said Brasseur.

She also expressed concern over the recent arrests. This in her opinion, dictates the need for reform of the judicial system.

Brasseur also pointed to the existence of problems in the activities of NGOs and complexity of their registration.

According to her, there should be normal conditions for the activities of civil society and opportunities for freedom of expression and to bring alternative views to the country's population.

As noted by Brasseur, Azerbaijan is an active civil society, with 11 representatives of which she had a 4-hour conversation. According to Brasseur, despite the large number of NGOs in the country, the real opposition is not much. Brasseur repeatedly stressed the need for tolerance of critical opinions.

She believes that there is a need for the opposition and critical opinions. "In this country there is very little confidence, or maybe it does not exist at all. There is a need for dialogue and trust. I am a realist and I believe that it will not happen quickly. We must be patient and move to this," said Brasseur.

Brasseur said that she met with the convicted opposition activists Ilgar Mamedov and Tofig Yagublu, as well as the chief editor of the newspaper Tolyshi Sado, Hilal Mamedov.

With the other arrested activists Brasseur was not given an opportunity to meet, and it was motivated by the fact that the law does not allow access to people under pre-trial detention.

Responding to a question whether the President of the PACE during her meeting with Ilham Aliyev raised the issue for the immediate release of political prisoners as representatives of NGOs called her for, Brasseur said that she had a meeting with activists and noted that "no one would accept such a proposal."

However, Brasseur raised this issue at a meeting with the head of state.

However, she stressed that with the release of specific individuals problems will not be solved, and system changes are needed to lead the process forward.

She said she was not optimistic that the political prisoners would be released soon. However, Brasseur did not rule out the possibility of liberation of 1-2 people.

She also reported that she was interested in the reasons of mass arrests of civil society activists and government officials stated that it is part of an investigation on the basis of testimony of a single witness.

Brasseur also noted the need to review the legislation in the area of pre-trial arrest.

Brasseur expressed concern about reports of pressure in jail on Leyla Yunus and called for an investigation of this.

However, she reported that she received assurances from the Ministry of Justice on the facilitation of registration of NGOs. -03S06--

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