Azerbaijan, Baku, 17 January / corr Trend I.Alizade / Trend's exclusive interview with Samad Seyidov, the head of the Azerbaijani parliamentary delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), the chairman of the permanent parliamentary commission on international relations and interparliamentary relations
Question: Seven years have passed from the admission of Azerbaijan to the Council of Europe. What is your assessment to Azerbaijan's implementation of its obligations?
Answer: Beginning from 2001 the implementation of obligations was shaped in concrete timelines and requirements. At present this process is underway. Some obligations have been implemented, whereas others are still to be implemented and pending for their solution. However, major part of obligations has been implemented. The obligations linked with the improvement of legislation, the development of civil society, protection of the freedom of press and word, and human rights were fulfilled. However, there are problems with the implementation of some CE obligations, in particular, the establishment of the Public Television. However, it is impossible to establish the public television up to international standards within one day and work in the format accepted by Europe and the world. It is necessary to work over it.
Question: When is it possible to stop monitoring held by the PACE in Azerbaijan?
Answer: Azerbaijan has fulfilled and is continuing fulfilling the CE obligations. As soon the monitoring is stopped as better. At the same time, the reality and experience of other countries should not be forgotten. For instance one of the founders of the Council of Europe in 1949, Turkey, was released from obligations several years ago and they want anew to put Turkey under monitoring. I am sure that we will achieve release of Azerbaijan from monitoring and commence the post-monitoring period and we will witness this process.
Question: It is planned to include in the agenda of the PACE winter session an issue on appointment of a new rapporteur political prisoners in Azerbaijan. Does it seem real?
Answer: The activities of the working group comprised of representatives of the state power, MP and law-defenders, in terms of resolution of difficulties in the sphere of human rights protection in Azerbaijan and investigation into the problems of the convicted are fruitful and ought to be assessed in the deserved form.
The establishment of the working group is one of the signs of formation of the civil society in Azerbaijan. Therefore, we are in no condition to solve our problems through meetings and we proved it. Attempts taken for resolution of our problems by anyone from abroad will not mean the development of democracy in Azerbaijan, but a contradictory process. Malkom Bruce was a PACE rapporteur on the problem of political prisoners in Azerbaijan. Work done by him and positive results cannot be denied. However, it was possible because the Azerbaijani Government demonstrated political will and gave its consent for constructive cooperation with the CE, a PACE rapporteur and experts appointed by the then Secretary General, Walter Schwimmer. Too many people were released from prisons on the basis of this cooperation.
At the same time, as a result of political will of the Azerbaijani Government and the cooperation with CE a working group was established and we began to solve the issue out of borders of the country. The activities of the working group demonstrated that we can solve our problems by ourselves. Even the difficult problem like release of journalists was considerably solved at the presidential decree. However, it is impossible to return back and appoint a new rapporteur on political prisoners. It will mean non-understanding of the real situation. At the same time, those demanding the appointment of a rapporteur on political prisoners are not so naive. They targets directing the civil society established in Azerbaijan to the negative course. However, I do not believe these forces to achieve anything. I do not expect the influential organization like the CE to take a decision on appointment of a rapporteur on issue of political prisoners. Even if the rapporteur is appointed, it will have negative rather positive impact on the democratic developments in Azerbaijan. Should the CE takes this decision, it will feel its negative impact shortly. Azerbaijan will never accept such treatment. It will be better both for the Council of Europe and Azerbaijan to continue joint constructive cooperation and the working group has been given more support, authorities and opportunities.
Question: The Council of Europe demand to inject changes to the Elections Code of Azerbaijan and the law on Freedom of Assembly. When could these changes be carried out?
Answer:Our cooperation with the CE Venice Commission in connection with the injection of changes into the law on Freedom of Assembly is in its final stage. It is possible to state with confidence that some changes will be injected in the law soon. The proposals put forward by Azerbaijan were accepted by the Venice Commission and the necessary changes will be carried out. This issue will be fully resolved in accordance with the European standards.
Currently, the discussions on the changes on the Elections Code are underway in the constructive form. This is an important issue. I think the changes to the elections Code will be clarified shortly. As these issues solved soon, as the preparations for the 2008 presidential elections will be held normally. Proposals put forward by the Venice Commission should be solved after the discussions in the constructive way within the framework of Azerbaijan's interests. Dialogue with any international organization should be continued up to the level, which will not infringe the state interests. The international organization cannot fully take into consideration the country's national interests.