BAKU: CoE secretary gen. approves relations with Milli Majlis

Azer Tag, Azerbaijan State Info Agency
April 8 2004

[April 08, 2004, 15:37:14]

Chairman of the Milli Majlis Murtuz Alasgarov met Council of Europe
Secretary General Walter Schwimmer, who is staying in Azerbaijan on
an official visit, April 7. He expressed to the guest his gratitude
for the support his organization has been providing for Azerbaijan to
integrate into Europe. The Chairman reminded that after joining the
Council of Europe, Azerbaijan has signed over 40 Conventions,
protocols and other documents of this structure. He pointed out as
well that Azerbaijan had passed a number of laws concerning human
rights protection, established Ombudsman institute and Constitutional
Court, as well as had drawn up the draft Law `On Tele- and Radio
Broadcasting’ and submitted it for European experts’ consideration.

Chairman Murtuz Alasgarov let the COE Secretary General know that the
Parliament has recently passed the Law `On Fight against Corruption’,
while a number of other ones are now under intensive elaboration, and
pointed out that Azerbaijan had been conscientiously honoring its
commitments to the Council of Europe.

The parties as well touched upon the political prisoners’ issue. It
was mentioned that under the Decrees of Pardon issued by nationwide
leader of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev and the Head of State Ilham
Aliyev, the important steps had been taken to discharge those whom
the Council of Europe called political prisoners. As a result of the
32 Decrees on Pardon issued in 1995-2003 by President Heydar Aliyev,
and 7 laws on amnesty passed by the Milli Majlis, 716 have been
discharged, and cases of 11 are now under court examination.
According to the Chairman, for the short period, President Ilham
Aliyev has issued two Decrees on Pardon of December 2003 and March 17
2004 discharging over 100 men. Therefore, Azerbaijan has fulfilled
its commitment to the Council Europe.

The meeting also focused on the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict over
Nagorno-Karabakh. Mr. Murtuz Alasgarov pointed out with regret the
same approach by some international organizations to both aggressor
and subject of the aggression, displaying double standards policy on
the issue. He reminded on destruction of Azerbaijan cultural
monuments and over 900 populated areas.

COE Secretary General Walter Schwimmer has given appositive
assessment to the relations between the Milli Majlis and the Council
of Europe saying the goal of the organization was to render necessary
assistance to Azerbaijan. He pointed out the recommendations of the
Venice Commission and OSCE Bureau of Democratic Institutions and
Human Rights concerning the Election Code, and expressed hope that
Azerbaijan would make use of the recommendations during Parliamentary
elections to be held in Azerbaijan in November 2005.

Mr. Schwimmer noted that one of the main Council of Europe’s clauses
is indepencence of mass media and freedom of expression, and welcomed
the law on alternative military service to be shortly passed in

He noted as well that he had always welcomed the Decrees on Pardon
issued by President Heydar Aliyev, and stressed the two new Decrees
signed by the Head of Azerbaija Ilham Aliyev created good basis for
the independent experts to complete their reports.

The COE Secretary General announced he was going to visit one of the
encampments, and that existence of over 1 million refugees terrified
him. He expressed opinion that the issue must be in the constant
focus of the Europe’s attention, `The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is
the problem of not only Azerbaijan or region but also the whole
Europe,’ he said. Mr. Schwimmer stressed that this conflict
contradicted the principles of the Council of Europe.

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS