Impossible to form election commissions on a parity basis since political parties violate agreements: department head of presidential administration (INTERVIEW)

France, Strasbourg, June 10/ Trend , A.Maharramli /

Trend exclusive interview with the Head of Public-Political Department of the Presidential Administration of Azerbaijan, Ali Hasanov

Trend : Recently different views are made on the need for Law on Defamation. Do You consider appropriate the adoption of the law in the current situation? Will the adoption of the law be a reason for increase in the facts of racketeering?

Ali Hasanov: As I noted in my speech today, and as the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has repeatedly stated, we do not support the arrest of the journalists, someone to be brought to court in connection with professional activities. We support journalists to freely exercise their profession, freely engaged in collecting and disseminating information. As a state, we are focusing on this. Unfortunately, our adoption of this law within the current level of professionalism of Azerbaijani journalists is not possible. The reason is that the adherence to the rules of public conduct and sense of responsibility before the people is not characteristic of non-professionals. We are not against the adoption of Law on Defamation, but we support its adoption. But for this we must work, and at the same time, the Law on Defamation should be adopted by more independent states, with rich experience of free press than we have. They must conduct testing of the law, and later, taking into account their relevant experience, we must pass this way. Currently, the Council of Europe is not on the right way. The Council of Europe wants to apply the laws of this type in countries with little experience in this field (in Moldova, Azerbaijan, Albania, Macedonia, Georgia). Why must the Law on Defamation be firstly adopted by the small countries, but not by Germany, France, England, Belgium and Holland? Such experiments should be conducted amongst people in countries with extensive experience. Then we can adopt and apply the law.

Q: What is the difference between the Council of Europe and Azerbaijan in the approach to this issue?

A: CE understands us in this matter and at the same time, they have their purposes and policies. I understand them. Of course, their goal is to achieve appropriate journalistic activities as a whole in the smallest and third countries. But we think more about the fate of our state, nation, mentality and values. Therefore, we have differences with the Council of Europe in some fields. But they understand us, and we - them.

Q: What reforms are necessary to improve professionalism and transparency in the press?

A: Firstly the situation in the field of journalistic education should be further brought into conformity with the European standards, rules and laws of the world education system, the Bologna system. Unfortunately, many non-professionals appeared in the media, and currently most of journalists in Azerbaijani media are people with non-journalistic education, weakly associated with this profession. Therefore, the journalist, working in the society, of course, is more engaged seeking sensation than professional activity. And this causes a problem. It is necessary to take measures to improve the professionalism of journalists, which should be linked with education and training. Trainings must be conducted by various agencies - Press Council, journalistic organizations, as well as relevant state agencies. Journalists should be able to ensure information needs of society, and at the same time, they must learn working in the society in accordance with the law. The issue of transparency is also important. Of course, one of the main priorities of the Azerbaijani government's policy is to make the work of state agencies transparent. Within the EU Neighborhood Policy, as one of the priorities, we chose increasing transparency of state governance. This means that nothing in the government will stay beyond the attention of journalists and media, including the society, which will be informed of developments through the media. Any activities should be transparent. If people are interested in any activity, it should be covered, and the society should be informed of the activities of the state. Therefore, we must bring our structures and those who work with the media, into conformity with appropriate standards.

Q: Can the issue of pardoning journalists be on the agenda on the Day of National Press?

A: In Azerbaijan, the majority of journalists who were arrested for journalistic activities had been pardoned by the President of Azerbaijan. But the journalists who are at the prison at the moment were arrested not for journalistic activities. Of course, I wish that they do not remain in detention. I believe that they have been improved. They have realized their mistakes in some issues, but their release depends on the Commission on Pardons, the president, who is chairman of the commission. So I cannot say anything concrete on this issue.

Q: The Venice Commission supports making amendments and additions to the Electoral Code, and several times, appealed to the Government of Azerbaijan in this regard. In particular, it urges forming election commissions on a parity basis. What is Your position on this?

A: It is impossible to form election commissions on a parity basis. At least, under present conditions in Azerbaijan. Political organizations, political parties always violate the law, agreement in principle for their political ambitions and political interests and in doing so openly declare that it should be so. I understand the Venice Commission. It should put forward their proposals for the member-countries of the Council of Europe, including Azerbaijan. But we rely on the realities of Azerbaijan. The main issue for us is national and public interests of Azerbaijan, stability and other issues, as well as the effectiveness of electoral institutions. All of these are done under the standards of CE.

Q: What are the main points of the philosophy of weakening of opposition in Azerbaijan?

A: Firstly the opposition in Azerbaijan must learn to work in the new situation. Their traditional principles, methods are not for current Azerbaijan. Unfortunately, the Azerbaijani opposition still thinks that it has services before Azerbaijan during the dissolution of the Communist Party, the destruction of the regime and believes that the people, nation should be their for that service. It believes that for their activities at that time, the effectiveness of which is under doubt, the citizens must vote for it. Now the people of Azerbaijan are of other kind, with a pragmatic way of thinking. If you can not express the interests of people, you can not prove that people can benefit if you come to power, can not work for the development of the country, improve the national condition if you do not make people believe it. Therefore, they must learn to work in this situation, once again think over the ways and means of gaining the confidence of people.

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