Experts: Azerbaijan Should Not Withdraw from Council of Europe

Baku / 23.10.17 / Turan: The Azerbaijani Parliament"s Speaker Oktay Asadov said at the Parliament"s session on October 20 that if the measures envisaged in Art. 46 of the European Convention are applied, the issue of Azerbaijan"s withdrawal from the Council of Europe will be discussed.

"Azerbaijan fulfills all these decisions and pays fines. As if they are playing in a lottery, they choose Azerbaijan from so many countries as a target. The application of the well-known article against Azerbaijan would be biased. If this article is applied, we will discuss whether we will remain in the Council of Europe," Asadov said.

The Speaker"s anger was caused by the fact that the Bureau of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) called on the European Court of Human Rights to give an opinion on the implementation of the European Court"s decision regarding the chairman of the ReAL movement Ilgar Mammadov by Azerbaijan. In addition, the Bureau called for the application of measures under Article 46 of the Convention to Azerbaijan as soon as possible. This article states that if the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe considers that the country refuses to implement the final decision on the case and the court confirms the violation, the case is sent to the Committee of Ministers for taking measures, one of which may be the expulsion of the country from the Council of Europe.

Back in May 2014, the European Court recognized the arrest of Ilgar Mammadov as illegal, aimed at forcing Mammadov to stop criticizing the authorities, and called for his immediate release. For three years, the Council of Europe has repeatedly demanded the release of the opposition politician, but he remains in custody.

Is the withdrawal of Azerbaijan from the Council of Europe, of which it became a member in 2001, real, and what consequences will it have for the country?

Political scientist Hikmet Hajizadeh believes the authorities will act as events unfold. "They will wait for the steps of the Council of Europe, which threatens Azerbaijan with the withdrawal from the organization. However, this is a long procedure and, as we move towards a decision, Oktay Asadov"s proposal will become increasingly relevant. In a very short period until exclusion, the authorities will say they do not need the Council of Europe and they will demonstrate themselves out of its composition," the political scientist believes.

In his opinion, the withdrawal of the country from the Council of Europe will have negative consequences on a global scale. "We will close our information, development, science and culture and will gradually regress. In addition, it will affect the Karabakh issue. The European community seems inactive, but if a peaceful solution to the conflict is outlined, it could be very useful for us and would put forward reasonable, democratic plans for a world order. Now, if Azerbaijan raises the issue of the return of Karabakh peacefully, the Council of Europe will not be inclined to support us, saying that Azerbaijan is not a democratic and therefore a peaceful country, and it is better for Karabakh to stay away. Azerbaijan"s withdrawal from the Council of Europe bears a great threat to a fair resolution of the issue in our favor," the political scientist said.

Hajizadeh stressed that if Azerbaijan wants to remain in the CE, it will fulfill the conditions of the organization in one way or another.

"The authorities will try, without losing their image, to fulfill certain requirements of the Council of Europe. Europeans usually do not press in this case. Seeing real progress, they will not sarcastically represent this process as a fright of the country. If the Azerbaijani authorities want, the issue will move from the dead point in a positive direction," Hajizadeh said.

According to the head of the Center for Strategic Studies Atlas Elkhan Shaheenoglu, the Azerbaijani authorities will take a big risk and decide on the withdrawal of the country from the CoE.

"I carefully read the speech of the head of the Azerbaijani delegation to the Council of Europe Samad Seyidov and came to the conclusion that Seyidov, in spite of the harsh criticism, himself, too, is against the withdrawal of the country from the Council of Europe. The Council of Europe is a fairly serious European organization, and our way out will negatively affect our relations with Europe. In addition, if we withdraw from the Council of Europe, there will remain Armenia, whose delegation will adopt resolutions against Azerbaijan. This also does not meet our interests. The presence of Azerbaijan in the organization ensured the adoption of several resolutions against Armenia. Taking into account these two factors, I do not think that Azerbaijan will decide to withdraw from the Council of Europe at will. I also do not believe that the Council of Europe will put to the vote the expulsion of the country from its membership and take such a decision," Shaheenoglu said.

The political scientist noted that the main requirement in relation to Azerbaijan is the release of several political prisoners.

"This mainly applies to Ilgar Mammadov. I think the Azerbaijani authorities will not release him under pressure. If Ilgar Mammadov is released now, it will look like the decision was made under pressure, and the authorities do not like pressure. However, certain oral promises may be made to the Council of Europe. At the end of each year, orders for pardon are usually signed. It seems to me that if they promise to pardon several persons, including Ilgar Mammadov, it will be possible to eliminate the pressure of the Council of Europe on the basis of this verbal agreement," E. Shaheenoglu stressed. -0-

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