В"I think that since the so-called Prague process started a year ago, the prospects for a peaceful settlement have increased considerably,В" Terry Davis, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, said in an interview for the CE Information office in Baku. Speaking on the process of resolution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, Davis voiced his disappointment in connection with the violation of the ceasefire regime.
Regarding the statements by the PACE Monitoring Committee on Azerbaijan Davis said the two rapporteurs of the Committee were both experienced parliamentarians and well-acquainted with the political and human rights situation in Azerbaijan. Davis voiced his every confidence in their assessment of developments in Azerbaijan. вЂњThere is no doubt that there are some serious shortfalls in Azerbaijan вЂ" such as obstacles to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression. These are basic human rights which should be respected in a democratic country. There are also other areas where there is plenty of room for improvement. In particular, sincere and constructive dialogue between the authorities and the opposition parties is essential. Political will is needed, from both sides, so as to normalise the relationship and to create a climate of openness in the political life of the country,вЂќ
Speaking on the forthcoming elections in Azerbaijan, the CE Secretary General There is no alternative to free and fair elections вЂ" especially since the previous elections were marred by irregularities.
вЂњThat is why we have prepared an action plan to support the organisation of honest elections>вЂќ he underlined. Davis informed that the plan has a three-fold focus: election assistance, which includes revision of the election code and assistance to the election administration; awareness-raising and voter education aimed at increasing public participation in the election process; and promotion of Council of Europe standards and values through civil society and the media.
Through the membership of our Organisation it has at its disposal a wealth of knowledge of our norms, standards, values and practices. Co-operation with the Council of Europe also gives an opportunity to learn from the experience of other member states in the sphere of political interaction between the various actors in the society as well as in participatory democracy in general, he assured.
He also said the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe will send an observation mission for the elections.
вЂњMuch will depend on their assessment of the conduct of the parliamentary elections, and I am not going to make any premature judgments.
My message is that the elections should be held in an irreproachable manner,вЂќ he noted. Azerbaijan has a chance to show that it can pass the test of democracy, and that it can be the flagship in this regard for other countries in transition!, according to Davis.