Interview with Agshin Mekhdiyev, permanent representative of Azerbaijan at the CE
What is the PACEвЂ™s position on Azerbaijan today? Are their any changes upon the last parliamentary elections in the country?
Answer: I donвЂ™t think, it is possible to speak about changes in the attitude of the Council of Europe, as well as PACE, or CE leadership towards Azerbaijan after the recent parliamentary elections. Our countryвЂ™s relationships with the CE, as well as different republican bodies and administrations with the different bodies of the CE are of smooth, stable and working character. We, perhaps, do not observe it, while today our cooperation with this organization, both daily and different projects and programs, covers larger specter of public-political life. The cooperation has enough deep roots, so it is impossible and wrong to make it dependent on any concrete event.
Today the CE is one of the world leading democratic institutes, very dynamic and active, IвЂ™d say. Therefore, if the CE makes critical notes on any issue, it is not worth to dramatize the situation, but attentively analyze and make appropriate conclusions.
It is clear that the national interests are of absolute priority, whilst the national specifics can always be taken into consideration. Like other organization, the CE first of all, implies people, the people who are ready to listen to your opinions and consider your opinions if they are grounded and set out in order. We establish our relationships with the CE on this principle, which will be successfully developed hence.
Question: A meeting of the CE Ad Hoc Committee on Nagorno-Karabakh will be held in Paris on 9 January 2006. Which issues will be mulled during the gathering? Who will represent Azerbaijan and Armenia?
As far as I know, the head of the Ad Hc Committee on Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, Lord Rassel Johnson, is going to present a report on the work done for the consideration of the members of the committee.
Then, members of the committee will adopt a report and submit it to the PACE Bureau to include it to the Bureau document, which will be presented to the January session of the PACE. As the committee was established on the base of the resolution of Bureau, the report on its work is regarded as part of the report of Bureau.
Moreover, the Ad Hoc Committee is to adopt a protocol of its previous meeting. As to the second question, Samad Seyidov, the head of the Azerbaijani delegation at the PACE, and Asim Mollazade, an opposition MP, represent Azerbaijan in the committee.
Armenia is represented by the headed by the delegation, Tigran Torosian, and opposition MP, Kocharian. Obviously, in case of changes within the composition of the delegations, representatives at the Ad Hoc Committees can also be changed.
Question: How do you estimate the results of a meeting of the PACE Monitoring Committee, dated 15 December? Are their any plans on dispatching to Baku a new CE mission and if so, is the date of the visit defined?
To my mind, a meeting of the PACE Monitoring Committee was normal and predictable. We expected Gross and Herkel will try to achieve a support of the Monitoring Commission in the issue on non-adoption of the mandate of the Azerbaijani delegation. And it occurred. Gross was absent from the gathering, while Herkel was in charge of it. Members of the Committee unilaterally came out against such actions. Moreover, there were sounded ideas that the Monitoring Committee should come out against such practice. Because of procure reasons no resolution on the issue has been taken and it excites only regret, for it could cool some hot-tempered brains, which nurture anti-Azerbaijani plans.
I think it is necessary to be ready for forthcoming visits of several CE missions to Azerbaijan. This is a group for observation over the elections, which would more probably visit the country prior to by-elections and during the elections. Gross and Herkel are also expected to be on a visit. I donвЂ™t rule out that coming out of the interest towards Azerbaijan, other delegations can also pay visits to the country. But as far as I know, the exact dates of the visits are still to be defined.
Question: The South Caucasus platform organized by the Congress of Local and Regional self-government bodies in Strasbourg on 15 Dec was reported to adopt an action plan in the conclusion. What is the essence of the plan?
Answer: IвЂ™d say that an action plan was not adopted, but coordinated. To become a finally adopted document the plan should under undergo some formal procedures. The document envisages some practical actions on the establishment and intensification of cooperation between the local authorities in the region, as well as attraction of the South Caucasus counties to the establishment and activities of the Black sea Euro-region.
The plan also envisages invitation of the representatives from the national association of local authorities of the South Caucasus countries to a Forum of the associations, to be held in Strasbourg in February 2006.
After the completion of the formation of national associations of local authorities it is also planned to establish a network of associations of local authorities and a range of measures on deepening and development of inter-cooperation, as well as regional cooperation of the local and regional authorities of the South Caucasus countries.
Taking into consideration the fact that the results of the Armenian aggression against our country [Azerbaijan] have not been prevented yet, Azerbaijan stated on its readiness to support the said action plan and concrete measures included in it if it does not infringe the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country.
Question: Winter session of the PACE will be held late this January, while an official draft working agenda of the session does not include any item on Azerbaijan. DoesnвЂ™t it hint to non-readiness of the documents, or the hearings will be held on the level of committees and only in the last stage the hearings in the large will be held?
Answer: Quite right. The agenda does not include any issue on Azerbaijan. But I guess the situation might change. We can expect that a report by the PACE observation mission for parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan might be presented in the Progress Report section вЂ" an interim report on PACE activities. The PACE Bureau can outline the issue, though it would be illegal amid the by-elections scheduled for 13 May in 10 constituencies. Perhaps, it is worth to wait for by-elections, and afterwards, if necessary, to put forward the issue for discussion. There is also probability for attempts of making the mandate of the Azerbaijani delegation doubtful.
In compliance with the existing procedures, the PACE bodies, as well as delegates at the PACE, can initiate the question in this form, if they gain support of less than 10 PACE members from 5 different groups.
As to organization structures, I am sure that they will not do it and respectively, I am almost sure that Gross, or anyone else under his order will try to take this chance. In this case, in compliance with the procedures, the issue will be given to the Monitoring Committee and the Committee on Procedures and Immunity Rules (which is also headed by Gross).
The first is to present a report on the issue, while the second state its opinion within 24 hours to enable the Assembly to discus it.
I donвЂ™t think them to succeed to carry out plans by the end of the year, the attempts in this respect are not ruled out. I am not actually surprised what Gross does. He uses every chance to blacken Azerbaijan. So worse is that such calls are sometimes sounded from Baku..... In itвЂ™s the CE did not see the fact when people appealed to the CE with request punish themselves. Any political figure should aspire obtain additional audience t inform more and more people about his political visions. It is clear that if Azerbaijani delegation is deprived of his mandate, first of all the opposition representatives, which an only opportunity of contacting the PACE, and parliamentarians from different European countries will suffer.
Such an immoral and dissolute position, when people prefer the private interests over the national, indicates the political immaturity of its initiators.