Council of Europe Stands Ready to Assist Government of Azerbaijan in Expertise of Law On Broadcasting - Council of Europe Special Representative

Trend Exclusive Interview with the Council of Europe Special Representative of the Secretary General in Baku, Denis Bribosia

- Certain political arena has already been formed in Azerbaijan. Recently Council of Europe School of Political Knowledge was opened. How may this School affect the appearance of new personalities in this arena?

- First I want to say that this project does not aim at training new political personalities. The key character of this School is that all discussions here will go on behind close doors and the community will not have an access to it. Those questions discussed at School will remain there. Therefore, it is impossible to use this School to raise the public image of any persons.
I think that the key peculiarity of this program is to bring together the people who already have knowledge and skill and have said their word in the community. School will give an opportunity to them to jointly discuss the problems of common interest. In addition, the participants will improve their knowledge. The program has not been directed towards electing any personality and create hi/her political career. Everybody here will learn from each other. And this school is not in strict sense. Therefore, it will bring together those who represent various spheres and professions.

- First meeting of School participants went on. Did your expectations justify themselves?

- To my knowledge and according to information that I received from the participants, we have received the desired results.

- How do you assess the situation with the press in Azerbaijan? Over the recent period, the critics from the international organizations have decreased.

- The situation with press still remains as a question which is of serious concern. I do not want to call any concrete cases. But I want to note that the press has always played a key role and closely linked with democratic values in every democratic society. The question of press is very significant for the Council of Europe which protects these principles.
As regards to ANS TV channel, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe and co-rapporteurs of the organization expressed their satisfaction with the restoration of ANS broadcast. I was also glad for it. However, we were told that the decision regarding ANS will be made at the beginning of this month. Unfortunately the decision has not been made yet. I believe that the decision will be made soon and will be positive. The Council of Europe has already expressed its readiness to the Government of Azerbaijan to help resolve this problem, especially in expertise of the law On broadcasting adopted in 2002.
In addition, we don't want people to be arrested for what they say or write in the newspapers. We called on all Council of Europe member-countries to take out the criminal punishment for it. However, applying the law On defamation in several countries is difficult. I believe that we are in accurate way and positive results will be achieved in Azerbaijan in this sphere.
Further we are continuing the co-operation with the Government of Azerbaijan. For instance, member of the Azerbaijan Parliament, Rafael Huseynov, prepared a report on the level of professionalism of journalists and this document has been directed towards improving their professional training.

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