The fact, that presidents of Azerbaijan and Georgia once headed their countries’ delegations to PACE ”proves the importance of the Assembly as the school of democracy.

During the talks with them I got convinced, the political experience, acquired at the Council of Europe plays an important role in their present day policy. I am proud, that such significant people were in the PACE ranks, chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Rene van der Linden stated in his interview with ITAR TASS, commenting on the results of his official visit to the South Caucasus countries, Trend reports.

Touching upon the issue of the situation in Azerbaijan, van der Linden stated, during his visit he had a number of talks on the forthcoming November parliamentary elections. In this regard the PACE head voiced hope, they will be “free and fair”.

"The government must do all possible to avoid any violations against the opposition, to ensure freedom of assemblies throughout the country”, he underscored.

For observing the election process CE will send a large delegation to Azerbaijan.

According to the PACE head, the government of Azerbaijan assured him it will do all possible for ensuring success of the future parliamentary elections. "I have the impression, free and fair elections are really in the interests of the government, as the country wants to become a fully-fledged member of the European community.

The problem of the Nagorno-Karabakh took an important place at the negotiations of Armenia and Azerbaijan. The PACE official’s communiqué reports, in the opinion of Rene van der Linden, development of democracy in two neighboring countries will facilitate establishment of favorable atmosphere for the conflict settlement. He also stated on the intention to assist in the parliamentary diplomacy which may be implemented by the delegations of the sides concerned within the PACE frameworks. There efforts will become supplement to the bilateral diplomacy and the OSCE Minsk Group activities on Nagorno-Karabakh, the document notes.

Furthermore, the PACE head noted, the decisive role in the process of the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement belongs to Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia.

"I was assured by meetings with the both Presidents, as the awareness grows, that the future of the region depends on the peaceful settlement in Nagorno-Karabakh. There will be no guarantees of stability, prosperity and peace without it”, Rene van der Linden added. The PACE head voiced hope in this respect, that “Russia will play a constructive role in creating conditions” for the peaceful settlement of this problem.

Van der Linden reported, during the PACE October session he will meet with heads of delegations from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia to assess the results of his recent visit to these countries. He also noted, he plans to invite Speakers of Parliaments from these countries to Strasburg for joint meetings to have consultations, in what way the Council of Europe may help from its part to create conditions for peaceful settlement in Nagorno-Karabakh.

PACE chairman also spoke out his vision of the role of Russia in settlement of the current and potential conflicts in the South Caucasus. "Russia has a big influence in the region and by desire it can play a very constructive role. And to my mind, the best we can do is to encourage Russia to go on in its way to establishing a modern legal state, respecting the human rights”, he said.

He reminded the Russian Federation would occupy the seat of the CE chairman next year.

In this regard the PACE head expects seriously that “Russia will use this opportunity to demonstrate its ability to assume initiative in the processes /settlement in the South Caucasus/”.

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