Elections Commissions should Be Formed from Independent Experts Interview with Venice Commission Secretary General, Mr Gianni Buquicchio
Question: One of the major issues, discussed at the Venice Commission and the Government of Azerbaijan is the improvement of Elections Code of Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani opposition, in its turn, insists that the composition of elections commissions should be formed on parity basis. What are your views on the resolution of the issue?
Answer: The issue on elections commissions is important not only for Azerbaijan, but the whole region. The ideal choice would be the composition on parity basis. However, the most ideal would be the elections commissions composed of independent experts. Namely this option is used in countries with developed democracy.
Of course, it is not so easy to carry out this option in countries with young democracy. Therefore, we try to find better resolution, which would satisfy all sides. We will work over it together with experts from Azerbaijan in the weeks and months to come.
Question: You have stated on your plans to hold a meeting in Strasbourg. What is the concrete date of the meeting and who will attend it?
Answer: We will hold a meeting in Strasbourg in the period between December 6-10, 2006 with the participation of rapporteurs of the Venice Commission from Hungary and Latvia, representatives of the OSCE, because we carry out this work with the Government of Azerbaijan and the OSCE. Shahin Aliyev, the head of the Legislation and Legal Examination Department of the President's Executive Apparat, Safar Mirzayev, the head of the Apparat of the Parliament and other experts will represent the Azerbaijani authorities.
Question: After the Venice Commission presented to the Azerbaijani Government its commentary on the Law on Freedom of Assembly, the authorities announced on allocation of additional places for conduct of rallies. How do you estimate this step?
Answer: Freedom of assembly is a fundamental freedom of a person. It is regulated in details in few countries. However, in the countries with young democracy this right is mulled in detail. Some important issues linked with the offering of necessary facilities for the organizers should be improved. Azerbaijan has a Law on Freedom of Assembly, which was adopted in 1998 and is well detailed. The law contains very goods rules. It particularly, states that those rallying should not necessarily have sanctioning. It is enough for them to appeal to the executive bodies. I think, it is the finest rule of the Law and meets the European standards.
At the same time there are some rules, which are of formal character. For instance, the postponement of the rally due to technical reasons. This milestone should be reconsidered and some changes should be injected.
The fact that the Azerbaijani authorities allocated special places for conduct of rallies is a problem for us because the European standards permit the conduct of a rally in the center of the city. If you hold the rallies far from the city centre, or suburbs, no one will hear you. At the time it is necessary to observe a balance in the issue on ensuring the rights for freedom of assembly and protection of public order. The key objective of our talks with Azerbaijani authorities is to find a balance between these two principles. In the conclusion I want to note that the most important is the application of the law.
Question: Did you achieve any agreement on the issue in the meetings with the Azerbaijani officials as a result of the visit?
Answer: Though we are not going into details, I discussed the issue with the Government of Azerbaijan. We decided to work over it together. In the first half of December it is also planned to hold a meeting in Strasbourg, where we can discuss comprehensively the issue and achieve improvement of the Law on Freedom of Assembly, which was adopted in 1998.