An interview with Amts Lindberg, special representative of the CE Secretary General in Azerbaijan
Question: How much successful was the CE Action Program on parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan? Did you succeed to carry out all items of the plan?
Answer: It is difficult to give a quantitative indicator for how successful the Council of Europe Election Action Plan for Azerbaijan was. The fact that the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) still found serious shortcomings in the election process can of course be interpreted in such a way that the implementation of the Election Action Plan was not successful enough. On the other hand, maybe there would have been even more shortcomings without the plan? In any event, the positive effects of the Election Action Plan will hopefully be felt over a longer period of time and during subsequent elections as well. For example, the Central Election CommissionвЂ™s (CEC) rules of procedure for how to deal with election complaints were drafted with the help of a Council of Europe expert, sent to assist the CEC within the framework of the Election Action Plan. The rules of procedures were adopted and can be used for subsequent elections. In a similar way the training provided within the Action Plan for judges, election officials, media representatives will not be lost, but that knowledge can be applied later.
Question: How do you estimate the November parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan?
Answer: It is the Parliamentary Assembly which is the body within the Council of Europe which monitored the elections and therefore makes the assessment. The Standing Committee of PACE recently adopted the election observation report, which is now public. I am concerned about the serious shortcomings reported by PACE, but at the same time I take it as sign that the Council of Europe needs to work even harder to assist Azerbaijan in bringing about democratic standards in general and to ensure free and fair elections in particular.
Question: Will you continue the activities on support to the development of democratic institutes in Azerbaijan and what directions do you regard as more actual?
Answer: Right now the Council of Europe is planning its assistance activities for the coming years with regard to Azerbaijan. To answer your question вЂ" yes, the Council of Europe will continue its support to the further development of democratic institutions in Azerbaijan. The activities will on the one hand be related to AzerbaijanвЂ™s remaining membership commitments to the Council of Europe and on the other hand focused on areas for which it is felt there is a need for further assistance, such as holding free and fair elections.
Question: How do you estimate the activities of the media during the elections?
You know that the Council of Europe facilitated the adoption of a Code of Conduct of Azerbaijani Mass Media During Election Campaign and then facilitated the monitoring of the pressвЂ™ compliance with the Code. The two month long monitoring period showed that compliance improved. Therefore I think one may say that while media standards during the elections were not perfect, they nonetheless improved.
Question: Some changes were expected to inject in the Code of Conduct for Police by late October with support from the CE, but it did not occur. What is the reason for such delay?
Answer: This is a misunderstanding. The Council of Europe has launched an activity to help Azerbaijani police draft and adopt a code of ethics for the Azerbaijani police forces. However, this is a long term project and it was only a first seminar which was held in October. The Council of Europe will continue to advice the Azerbaijani police authorities about the creation of the code of ethics and hopefully the code, when finally adopted, probably in 2006, will be of high quality.
Question: Does your office develop any new document to present to the CE leadership? Could they be discussed at the January session of the CE?
Answer: My office continuously reports to the Council of Europe leadership, in particular the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, but also to PACE. I presume that these reports which sometimes also include recommendations are taken into account. However, it is not the role of the Special Representative of the Secretary General to produce formal documents to be discussed by PACE.