"Azerbaijan Must Expand Freedom of Press and Speech" – CE Secretary General
France, Strasburg, 25 June / Trend corr A. Maharramli, I. Alizade/ Secretary General of the Council of Europe (CE) Terry Davis thinks democratic and free presidential elections in Azerbaijan require more freedom of press and speech. "Azerbaijan must have even more freedom of press and speech so that we could say that presidential elections will be free and democratic," Terry Davis said at a press conference in Strasburg on 25 June when commenting on the election situation in Azerbaijan.
On 25 June, PACE meeting passed resolution-11627 on Azerbaijan regarding operation of democratic institutes in the country on the threshold of presidential elections.
Co-rapporteurs' report includes improvement of Election Code, annihilation of restrictions in freedom of assembly, immediate release of impassioned journalists.
The resolution says PACE calls on Azerbaijani Government to discuss release of Natig Afandiyev, Rasim Alakbarov, Ruslan Bashirli, Akif Huseynov and Telman Ismayilov.
A total of 22 amendments were suggested to the document during the discussions, 9 of which were approved. The Secretary General stated that the freedom of media is a basis for democracy. "The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe expressed his anxiety over the situation in Azerbaijan. I am very concerned about the situation in Azerbaijan, especially that of journalists," he said.
According to the Secretary General, the situation in the mass media should be closely followed. "I am not sure that Azerbaijan treats journalist impartially. I met with the representatives of the governmental agencies in Azerbaijan and made a statement in this regard," the Secretary General of the Council of Europe said.
According to Davis, the documents approved by PACE do not fully reflect the position of the Council of Europe. He added that the Parliament Assembly is free in its choice of resolutions and reports. "I hope that the Azerbaijani government will pay worthy attention to the position of PACE before taking measures regarding the resolution," Davis said.
Azerbaijan became full member of the Council of Europe on 7 January 2001 and took commitments before the Organization. PACE has appointed co-reporters on Azerbaijan to observe the fulfilment of these commitments.
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