PACE Spring Session Views Azerbaijan’s Commitments to CE

Azerbaijan, Baku/ Trend , corr. A. Gasimova/ Azerbaijan's Commitments to the Council of Europe (CE) were discussed during the first meeting of the Spring session held by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg on April 16. The Co-Rapporteurs of the CE Monitoring Committee, Andres Herkel and Tony Lloyd, delivered their reports in the beginning of the meeting. Mr. Lloyd voiced his satisfaction with the decrease of prisoners in Azerbaijan and expressed a hope that his work in the direction would be continued.

The debate on the question under the discussions began afterwards. Member of PACE, Leo Platvoet delivered his critical speech. He noted that the rapid development of the economy of Azerbaijan had not lead to social increase and the country's efforts for democracy were insignificant yet. He also voiced his discontent on the situation with the freedom of press and speech in Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijani MP Gultekin Hajiyeva stated that it was rather easy to change the legal basis of the country, what could not be said about the mentality of the people. According to her, democracy has a beginning, but has no end, and Azerbaijan stands at a cross-road of the interests. "This is the very reason why it is rather difficult to achieve democracy in the country with a plenty of refugees and 20% of its territory occupied," she added.

The Head of the Azerbaijani parliamentary delegation, Samad Seyidov, voiced his gratitude to the Co-Rapporteurs for their work and noted that for the first time in the CE's history a report had been prepared jointly with a parliamentary delegation.

According to Seyidov, Azerbaijan is a young state considering development of democracy. However, the people is determined to get familiar with the western values, and the proof for it is the fact that Azerbaijan has joint the EC new policy program.

Azerbaijani MP Ali Huseynov stated, "We really intend to resolve the problem connected with human rights. The Azerbaijani Ministry of Justice has been charged with construction of new prisons including the ones for life-term inmates. Fundamental reforms have been carried out in judicial system.", he added.

Commenting the critical statements on the report, Mr. Herkel noted that the situation in the country would clear up after the presidential elections to be held in 2008. He also voiced his surprise with the fact that the Azerbaijani opposition members were not in attendance.

Mr. Lloyd also added that the report would recognize the progress in Azerbaijan. However, the final results would be revealed after the presidential elections.

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