Interview with Agshin Mehdiyev, the permanent representative of Azerbaijan at the CE, the Azerbaijani Ambassador to the European Union
Question: Could you comment on the results of the winter session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council Europe (PACE)? What are the advantages and disadvantages of the discussions and meetings held at the PACE for Azerbaijan?
Answer: Even prior to the autumn session of the PACE I noted that the agenda did not include items on Azerbaijan. Obviously, no issue concerning Azerbaijan was discussed during the meeting. Nevertheless, we can state that Azerbaijan remains to be on focus on the participants in the gathering. The Azerbaijani parliamentary delegation held a meeting with the President of the PACE, Rene Van der Linden. The Azerbaijani parliamentary representatives met with the CE Secretary General Terry Davis. The Azerbaijani and Armenian parliamentarians had a meting under the PACE Ad Hoc Committee on Nagorno-Karabakh. As you see, though Azerbaijan did not occur in the PACE agenda, much has been done there and the talks were intensive enough.
Question: The CE Secretary General Terry Davis held a news conference in Strasbourg on 5 October, where he stated his confidence in conduct of democratic and fair parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan. Earlier Davis only voiced his вЂ�hopeвЂ™ to see transparent elections. What are the reasons for change in the position?
Answer: Late this September Davis paid a visit to Baku and had an opportunity to get familiar with the pre-election situation in the country and preparations for forthcoming parliamentary elections in different organizations. Davis held a meeting at the Central Elections Commission, as well as different ministries and administrations of the country. He had circumstantial talks with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. The aggregate impressions he had after the negotiations enabled the CE to state with confidence Azerbaijan was in serious spirit to hold democratic, open and free elections in line with the world standards.
Question: the President of the PACE, Rene Van Der Linden, stated that the CE Monitoring mission in Azerbaijan would be expanded. What is the reason for such an expansion and how many people will be added to the mission?
Answer: The resolution is first of all explained with PACEвЂ™s will for more detailed and wider monitoring of the forthcoming elections. As to exact number of observers from the CE, it is still to be determined. For the time being we should welcome such step. As there are more observers as better for Azerbaijan.
Question: How do you estimate the nearest prospects of cooperation between the European Union and Azerbaijan?
Answer: Indeed, this is perspective direction. The relationships between Azerbaijan and the EU are one of the important and perspective directions of AzerbaijanвЂ™s foreign policy. The expedient work in this direction should be continued, as it is first of all the capital вЂ" it all that we need. The same time Azerbaijan is not a poor country and it has something to offer to the EU. Taking into consideration this aspect, it is necessary to work comprehensively over this issue.
Question: The local media repots in Azerbaijan wrote that the chairman of the CE Ministerial Committee sent a letter a letter to the chairman of the PACE with a proposal not to accept a statement and a letter from Azerbaijan, which contains accusations to ArmenianвЂ™s address. The statement was made by Tigran Torosian, the head of the Armenian parliamentary delegation to the PACE. How much right does this report?
Answer: I donвЂ™t know what Mr. Trosian meant. However, I tried to clarify what was the matter. As a result I can say the Armenian side for the next makes a sin. It seems to become a tradition in this country. The chairman of the CE Ministerial Committee really appealed to the Parliamentary Assembly, but it was absolutely of different character. The point is that the PACE practices such forms of appeals, like questions to the Ministerial Committee to make the body to reply them. There is range of questions on which the Ministerial Committee fails to achieve a consensus. These are problems which concern the mutual relationships between the groups of countries. So, the chairman of the CE Ministerial Committee appealed to the President with recommendation not to put forward questions to the decision of the CE Ministerial Committee. As to the questions regarding the South Caucasus region, it concerned Armenia, but not Azerbaijan. However, there was not the case when they did not allow considering any document submitted by Azerbaijan in the unilateral order.