France, Strasburg, 29 January /corr. Trend A.Maharremli, I.Alizade / Trend's exclusive interview with the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, Terry Davis.
- What position does the Council of Europe demonstrate with regards to recognizing Kosovo's independence by USA and EU countries?
- The Council of Europe is not lead by the example of USA. They are not in Europe and therefore they do not influence the decisions of the Council of Europe. If Kosovo announces its independence, 47 member-countries of the Council of Europe, in which 27 EU participating countries are being represented, will make a decision on this issue. However, now I cannot say what the decision will be. It is not the first time that there is a difference between the member-countries.
- Will recognition of Kosovo's independence affect the 'frozen conflicts', including the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?
- It is very difficult to say how it will be affected. I am concerned by the issue of what position the Council of Europe will take if Kosovo announces its independence. I have repeatedly stated that the position of the Council of Europe will reflect the decision of the UN Security Council. Yet it is unlikely that the Security Council will make a decision on this issue. In this case, the governments of the 47 member-countries will have to determine what the Council of Europe should do. They will say what decision needs to be made. After this, within the framework of the Council of Europe, monitoring and control will possibly be continued in Kosovo with regards to human rights, education, local power and cultural heritage. It is impossible to presume what will happen if Kosovo announces its independence. The decision on this issue will be made by the governments of 47 countries.
With regards to the problems of settling the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, I am sure the Council of Europe's will, as well as mine, will include making a contribution to improve the standards of human rights in Nagorno-Karabakh and in the whole region as well.
- What is Your position on the talks regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement? Would you recommend that the parties reach an agreement before the presidential elections in both countries?
- That would depend on the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia. It is their work. The OSCE Minsk Group may make a contribution, but the reality depends on the governments and people of the two countries. Therefore, my advice and recommendation to Azerbaijan and Armenia includes continuing work in this regard.
- Has the Council of Europe an opportunity to influence the process of reaching an agreement between the conflicting sides?
- It is very important that the efforts of the international organizations are not repeated. The OSCE Minsk Group is occupied on this issue. It would be wrong for the Council of Europe to be involved in this issue. If one mediator exists, the efforts of the second one are unnecessary. As for recommendations regarding the continuation of the works, I add that it needs to pay attention to the proposals of the Minsk Group.
- What contribution can the Council of Europe make in preparations for the presidential elections in Azerbaijan in November?
- We have co-operated with all member-countries in preparation for the presidential elections. Currently we are co-operating with Armenia in this regard. According to the general regulations, we will co-operate with Azerbaijan in this regard as well. I cannot say beforehand what we will do. Much will depend on what appeals the Azerbaijani government will make.
How do You assess the situation with Azerbaijan's fulfillment of obligations undertaken before the Council of Europe?
- The country has fulfilled part of its obligations and currently we expect the other part to be implemented. The most important obligation which yet has not been fulfilled by the Azerbaijani and Armenian sides is the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
- How do You assess the situation with the freedom of speech, media and human rights in Azerbaijan? How important is it to appoint a rapporteur on political prisoners?
- I do not have any information on Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe's appointment of a rapporteur on Azerbaijan with regards to any issue. I cannot comment on this issue because the decision is made by PACE. As regards freedom of speech, I should note that I was very concerned about the arrest of several journalists in Azerbaijan and expressed these concerns to the government of the country. Currently I am very satisfied that several of these journalists have been freed, but I expect and hope that all the jailed journalists will be freed.
How do You assess the situation with Georgia's fulfillment of obligations undertaken before the Council of Europe?
Like Azerbaijan, Georgia has fulfilled most of its obligations undertaken before the Council of Europe. There are obligations which are expected to be fulfilled. Speaking of the Presidential elections, I have already expressed my disappointment of the report by the Council of Europe's observers. They stated that the results were clear and Mikhail Saakashvili's election as president corresponded with the results. According to them, the elections were held in a free, but unfair manner. We were especially concerned about the use of resources of government bodies for one candidate - Saakashvili.
- Do You plan to visit Azerbaijan?
- Up till now, I have made several visits to Azerbaijan and would like very much to visit Azerbaijan again. However, as yet I have not received an official invitation and I personally have not proposed such a date. It is true, I have received general invitations. I have always been satisfied with my visits to Azerbaijan. I have many friends in the Country, who are functioning with regards to the policy. By the way, my wish to make a visit to Azerbaijan was described in the local media as my obligation, and it does not correspond to reality.