Baku, Azerbaijan, Nov. 4
Azerbaijan has come a long way regarding development of democratic society, and no one can deny that, Head of Azerbaijani Presidential Administration's Public and Political Issues Department, Ali Hasanov, said.
"Azerbaijan doesn't lag behind any CoE member state, not regarding building a democratic society, not in ensuring human rights and freedoms, not in carrying out democratic reforms in the judicial system," Hasanov said.
The high-ranking official was commenting on CoE Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland's point of view in his article about human rights in Azerbaijan, published by The Guardian.
Hasanov said that the Azerbaijani legislation, which is in line with international standards, fully guarantees the sustainable development of the civil society, freedom of expression and information, assembly, the effective protection of human rights.
"As it is known, Azerbaijan has a three-tier judicial system," Hasanov said. "As a member of the Council of Europe, our country is under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights. If we consider the global experience, one can clearly see that today this is the most perfect mechanism ensuring the protection of human rights."
He said that Azerbaijan stands out by vigorous activity, initiatives, principled position in all international organizations it joined, including the Council of Europe.
Hasanov also added that Azerbaijan fulfills all its obligations and tasks.
He said Azerbaijan sees the Council of Europe as a tribune, a platform for development of foreign relations, further strengthening of existing potential through fruitful cooperation with member states, and the contribution to strengthening of existing international relations system, in order to become an active participant in pan-European processes and in protection of national interests, and bringing the fair voice to the world community.
"We are fairly expecting an adequate attitude towards Azerbaijan both from the leadership of the Council of Europe and from the member states," he added.
"But I must say with disappointment that in some cases some authoritative international organizations, including the Council of Europe, function as pressure and influence tool for individual forces on the member states."
"The artificial exaggeration of the fictional 'political prisoners' issue, the attempts to tarnish Azerbaijan with unfounded, biased statements, damage the cooperation atmosphere within the Council of Europe, hold it away from fulfilling its mission, and undermine the trust towards the organization," Hasanov said.
Hasanov believes that some allegations, reflected in the article of Thorbjorn Jagland, are the results of pressure of certain anti-Azerbaijani powers, and they are no more than groundless biased judgments.
He reminded that neither Azerbaijani laws, nor international law stipulate special benefits for members of any profession, who committed a certain crime.
"The courts in Azerbaijan, just like in every democratic country, when making decisions, take the rule of law as a basis, but not the wishes of certain political circles and individuals' statements," he said.
"Therefore, statements, appeals, interviews, that pursue certain interests, as well as various methods of influence and pressure are firstly assessed as a disrespect to the rule of law," Hasanov said.
"On the other hand, it is illogical to attack a state, which doesn't have anything to do with this process, in order to prevent the initiative of any country to withdraw from the European Court on Human Rights and attempt to show far-fetched reasons for this.
Hasanov said Jagland would be better to relate the problem of withdrawal of UK from the European Court on Human Rights to the court itself or UK.
The top official added that apparently, the unjustified attacks organized against certain members under the pressure of foreign forces, the double standards that go beyond all limits, as well as biased claims have undermined the trust of such country with democratic traditions as the UK in the Council of Europe and the European court, therefore it showed the intention to take such a radical step.
"Mr Jagland rightly said that Europe is experiencing the erosion of rights of national minorities, freedom of expression and judiciary," he said. "Indeed, compared to many European countries, Azerbaijan is a fairly tolerant country in terms of protection of national, religious rights, as well as human rights and it can be a distinctive model in this regard."
"I believe that blaming young democracies instead of seriously investigating the causes of the situation in Europe is a very naive approach which aggravates the situation," Hasanov said. "We would like Mr. Jagland to deeply think this problem over."