Azerbaijan, Baku, Oct. 22 / Trend K.Zarbaliyeva /
Azerbaijani State Migration Service Head and second range State Migration Service Advisor Arzu Rahimov spoke to the media outlets.
The media: A number of amendments have been made in the country's legislation related to the visa procedures for foreigners and stateless persons. What is your opinion on this matter?
Rahimov: As you know, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev signed on Tuesday a decree "On introducing amendments to Presidential Decree No.326 dated Sept.13, 2010 " On some issues relating to issuing visas to foreigners and stateless persons arriving in the Republic of Azerbaijan."
Today, Azerbaijan is the most developed country in the region. Our country has become an attractive country for foreigners thanks to the undertaken economic and social reforms. Therefore, the number of visitors to the country is increasing day by day. The rapid development of migratory processes, improvement of policies in this area and strengthening of the control in the country necessitated such action. Although Mr. President's step is a novelty for Azerbaijan, the phenomenon has well passed the test worldwide.
The Azerbaijani people differ for their hospitality, but at the same time, they love their homeland. Our country' doors are open to all guests, but only under one condition - within the law. Foreigners visiting Azerbaijan must adhere to the national legislation. The Azerbaijani citizens desiring to visit another country apply for a visa or to this country's embassy in our country or the diplomatic mission in a third country, as we respect the laws of another state. I think there will be no problem on this matter in the future. Azerbaijan has diplomatic representations in over 70 countries worldwide, and we can issue a visa before arrival in our country.
The presidential decree reflects some exceptions, under which foreigners and stateless persons may apply for visa directly to the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry.
Azerbaijan is developing day by day and our country hosts the international events. These exceptions are introduced to enable the foreign guests could participate in them without any obstacle.
Some interested persons give an erroneous interpretation of the decree. They argue that the Turkish government met this decision with dissatisfaction, regarding that Azerbaijan is closing its doors to the brother country. This question is not even considered. Paragraph 2.1 of the Presidential Decree stipulates that foreigners and stateless persons may apply for a visa directly to the Foreign Ministry under the cases provided by interstate or intergovernmental agreements of the Azerbaijan Republic. Azerbaijan and Turkey have such an agreement and in accordance with this, when entering Azerbaijan the Turkish citizens will be issued visas at the International Airport named after Heydar Aliyev.
Q.: Will the foreigners visiting our country to observe the parliamentary elections scheduled for Nov. 7 face any problems?
A.: These issues were reflected in the Presidential Decree. Foreign experts involved in the electoral process as observers, of course, will be invited in our country by the relevant executive authorities on the basis of an invitation letter. Appropriate decisions on their entrance to the country are made following the certain procedures. On this basis, visas for those persons are formed by the appropriate government agencies. This issue is reflected in Paragraph 2.3 of Decree No. 326.
Q: What positive results do you expect from the signed decree?
A: Azerbaijan is a dynamically developing country. The geo-strategic transit routes linking East and West stretch through our country.
About 120,000 foreign citizens stayed in Azerbaijan this year. The number of foreigners, who arrived in Azerbaijan, and is engaged in any activity, was more than 400,000 people in previous years.
We must improve the migration policy taking into account Azerbaijan's development and the increase in the number of foreigners, entering the country.
Azerbaijan is the main guarantor of global energy projects. This is a country uniting different cultures and civilizations. It differs by a high level of national, ethnic and religious tolerance. In this regard, the issue of state control over migration processes from the point of view of national security and maintaining stability has particular relevance. The State Migration Service operates in this direction. I emphasize once again that the main purpose of adopting this decree is to use rules of management in the migration system, existing in the most developed world countries that prefer to ensure security of the nation in their policy.
I would like to remind that the decree is also associated with the use of the law "Amendments and changes to some legislative acts of the Azerbaijan Republic" adopted by the Azerbaijani Parliament on June 24, 2008. The important changes were made to the laws "Entry, Departure and Passports", "Legal Status of Foreigners and Stateless People"," Immigration" and others on the basis of this law. These changes will bring only positive results given the above-mentioned features.
Q: At what level are the measures to combat illegal migration conducted by your organization?
A: Today, all the developed world countries have the actual problem of illegal migration. Our main goal is to suppress such cases and to combat them. Today, the State Migration Service intensively operates in this sphere within the authority provided by President Aliyev in accordance with the law of the country.
One could see citizens of China, Pakistan, Vietnam and other countries strading on the streets in Baku one or two years ago. Now their number dropped significantly. Chinese massage parlors operated in Baku some time ago. These parlors must operate on the basis of proper permission. Now, we conduct operations against those who arrived in Azerbaijan legally, but engaged in illegal activities. We will act this way in the future.
The cases of administrative violations of the law by 9,230 foreigners were revealed by employees of the service for the first nine months of this year.
The residence of 2,352 people was legalized after a fine was imposed. A decision was made towards more than 6,000 foreigners to expel them from the country in accordance with the rules stipulated by the Code of Administrative Offences. About 600 people, expelled from the country, are Chinese citizens, 400 - from Pakistan, 105 - Turkmenistan, 30 - Bangladesh, 20 - Afghanistan and the citizens of other countries.
The legal act adopted by the Azerbaijani Republic is a timely action taken to prevent the cases of illegal migration and the emergence of certain problems in the future. A foreigner, who wishes to visit Azerbaijan, must get a visa in the prescribed manner. If it is considered appropriate, relevant measures will be taken to issue a permit to enter the country. A special information system registers the data on a foreigner, arrived in Azerbaijan, until his departure.