details added (first version posted at 12:27)
Baku, Azerbaijan, Mar. 20
By Anvar Mammadov - Trend:
Azerbaijan has ensured the rule of law, spokesman for the Azerbaijani foreign ministry Hikmet Hajiyev said.
Hajiyev was responding to the statement by the US State Department.
"The successive actions towards sustainable development of democracy are taken," he said.
"All these actions are primarily aimed at ensuring the main component of the Azerbaijani government's activity - the interests of the country's population," he said. "No one is persecuted for political views in our country."
"The US appreciates pardoning and releasing of the executive director of the Election Monitoring and Democracy Training Center Bashir Suleymanli, as well as three more people in Azerbaijan March 18," spokesperson for the US Department of State Jen Psaki said earlier.
According to the Azerbaijani NGOs, these three people were imprisoned for civic activity.
Psaki also urged Azerbaijan to take additional positive actions in this direction.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree on March 18 pardoning 101 people.
Under the decree, 90 people, sentenced to imprisonment, have been freed from serving the remainder of the prison term.
Moreover, four people were freed from the remainder of the correctional labor and seven people were freed from the penalty in the form of a fine.
Civil society activists, Bashir Suleymanov, Orkhan Eyyubzade, Ramil Veliyev, Anar Gasimli, member of the opposition Musavat Party Shahla Mukhtarova and two Georgian citizens are among the pardoned.
Hajiyev said that the US Department of State should urge Armenia to fulfill its commitments to the OSCE and the UN Security Council's resolutions on the liberation of the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.
"The US Department of State should raise the issue of restoring the rights of Azerbaijani refugees and internally displaced persons," Hajiyev said.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan.
As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
The two countries signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, Russia, France and the US are currently holding peace negotiations.
Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding regions.
Edited by CN