The position of Azerbaijan at the Council of Europe constantly strengthens,
while the authority of the Azerbaijani delegation steadily grows, Agshin Mehdiyev, the permanent Azerbaijani representative at the Council of Europe, told Trend in an exclusive interview.

According to Mehdiyev, positive tendency in regard to Azerbaijan was observed during the last hearings on results of the visit of the Council of Europe (CE) Monitoring group (Ago group). “The Members of the Ago group appreciated democratic changes in Azerbaijan and the hearings had positive impact on strengthening of the Azerbaijan’s position at the Council of Europe,” he noted.

Touching upon critical statements of Andreas Herkel and Andreas Gross, the (PACE) Monitoring group co-rapporteurs on Azerbaijan, in regard to Azerbaijan, Mehdiyev noted that the co-rapporteurs are rather weak.

The Azerbaijani representative at the CE stressed that he repeatedly appealed to the co-rapporteurs with the request to inject items concerning the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani, Nagorno-Karabakh conflict into the reports on Azerbaijan.

“Any analysis of the situation in Azerbaijan may be biased if it does not cover the conflict with Armenia.

How can you speak about the internal political situation in Azerbaijan without mentioning, that a part of its territories under the Armenian occupation and there is a number of internally displaced persons in the country?” he underlined. He said, the unregulated Nagorno-Karabakh conflict directly affects all spheres of the public life in the country.

“To speak about the situation in Azerbaijan ignoring this problem is absurd. Therefore, it’s not worth taking the reports of Herkel and Gross seriously,” Mehdiyev stressed. He said that in one of his recent addresses, Gross mentioned the necessity for allotment of 25 seats at the country’s Parliament for the representatives of the opposition.

“It is a new form of democracy, when the number of seats for parties at the Parliament is announced in advance. Both the co-rapporteurs are not able to develop a serious report on the situation in Azerbaijan,” he noted.

Touching upon the cooperation with the CE Venetian Commission (VC), Mehdiyev said, the development of ties between Azerbaijan and VC is of permanent character. “Negotiations at the experts’ level have been held recently to discuss the supplements to the Elections Code.

Some supplements were unified, but some remained unchangeable. The statement on late submission of the final version of the Elections Code to VC is of a formal character,” Mehdiyev noted.

“The same time, the final agenda of the PACE October session has not been developed and consideration of any document in regard to Azerbaijan is not expected yet,” the permanent Azerbaijani delegate at the CE said.

Speaking about the activities of the CE Commission on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Mehdiyev stressed that the idea of including the situation on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement to the PACE’s agenda belonged to Ilham Aliyev, the President of Azerbaijan.

“The goal of the commission setting up is to involve СЕ as the authoritative international organization in the active participation for the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and to use the CE’s opportunities as an additional factor, but not as alternative to the activities of the OSCE Monitoring group,” the diplomat noted.

“The report of Davis-Atkinson is the first impartial document covering the Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict. The statement of Armenia on uselessness of the document is not right at all.

The document came as the last warning, calling on the Armenians to reconsider their position in regard to the conflict,” he said. According to Mehdiyev, it showed changes in the world public opinion.

“The establishment of the Committee, engaged in conflicts within the PACE, means that neither PACE nor CE intend to leave the settlement of the problem out of attention,” he underlined.

According to Mehdiyev, the CE is the most authoritative organization consisting of 42 countries and the report of Device-Atkinson reflects its position. Nobody can ignore it.

“Both the discussion of the problem at PACE and including the Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict to the UN General Assembly’s agenda were factors, which promoted the speed-up of the negotiations,” the diplomat stressed.

Mehdiyev noted that the issue of the political prisoners had been removed from the CE’s agenda. “The �List of 716’, including also the names of bandits, had been submitted to the CE once.

However, the work of the state bodies with the CE representatives allowed to close the list”, he said. According to Mehdiyev, the issue is due to be settled through the internal dialogue and including of similar topics to the agenda of international organizations damaged the Azerbaijan’s image,” he underlined.

Mehdiyev also touched upon the goal of the visit of Terri Davis, the CE Secretary General, to Baku scheduled for early September. He stressed the sides would discuss the fulfillment of the commitments of Azerbaijan before the CE, as well as hold exchange of opinions on pre-election situation in the country.

“The first visit of Terri Davis to Azerbaijan as the CE Secretary General and the forthcoming talks in Baku will stimulate the development of ties with the authoritative international organization,” the Azerbaijani representative at the CE noted.

Mehdiyev also spoke about the election of a new CE Commissar on human rights and called nomination of Elmira Suleymanova, the Azerbaijani ombudsman, as �brilliant diplomatic move’. “Suleymanova was among 8 nominees for the post of the CE Commissar on Human Rights, she is also the only woman from Islamic countries,” he stressed.

“Hearings on the issue will be held in September, while the final resolution will be adopted at the PACE’s October session However, irrespective of the PACE resolution it is a big success for Azerbaijan,” the Azerbaijani delegate at CE stated.

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