CE Can Still Improve Its Cooperation with Azerbaijan CE Secretary General

Politics Materials 5 February 2007 11:35 (UTC +04:00)
CE Can Still Improve Its Cooperation with Azerbaijan  CE Secretary General

Trend's exclusive interview with Terry Davis, the Council of Europe Secretary General

Question: How do you view the current level of bilateral relationships with Azerbaijan? How do you estimate Azerbaijan's fulfillment of the CE commitments?

Our relations are excellent, open and cooperative. We in the Council of Europe believe in dialogue and exchange of views. We focus our cooperation with the South Caucasus which is one of our main priority regions. The CoE has an extensive cooperation programme with Azerbaijan in all the main fields. I also feel that it is progressively yielding results. Of course, we can still improve. We have recently witnessed a crisis linked to the functioning of media in Azerbaijan, and that is why we think that further progress should be achieved in respect of the freedom of media and their proper functioning. We also believe that the judiciary system can be further improved. The commitment to the Council of Europe values and principles is permanent. This is what membership in this Organisation means: democracy, human rights and the rule of law. And we need to continue to make progress even after the formal commitments have been fulfilled. Producing legal texts is not enough. It is an important step in setting up an institutional framework, but it is only a first one. The proper and unbiased implementation of the law is as important as the law itself.

Question: Most believed 2006 to be a window of opportunity for the achievement of progress and the signing of a peace agreement on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. What are your views on the prospects of a conflict settlement?

Reply: I believe that there is always a window of opportunity as long as there is a political will to settle the conflict. I also understand that an agreement has been reached on many of the basic principles. I can only encourage the parties to take the courageous step to agree on the last decisive matters. It must also be recalled that both Armenia and

Azerbaijan have undertaken the commitment to solve the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh by peaceful means only when joining the Council of Europe. This is a binding commitment.

Question: Despite the fact OSCE Minsk Group has been involved in the resolution of the conflict for over 10 years, no results have been achieved yet. Do you believe that it is time for another organization, including the UN, to join the conflict resolution process, as OSCE seems to have exhausted of resources in solving the conflict?

Answer: First of all it is up to the two countries to settle the conflict. It is in their direct interest to end this conflict by peaceful means. Since the Minsk Group has showed a new dynamism in the peace process during the last six months, I wonder why anyone would suggest that the conflict settlement mechanism should be changed. After all, the OSCE Minsk Group, which has the task of mediating in this conflict, is very familiar with all aspects of this complex process.