German FM urges Azerbaijan to shape up on democracy, rights

Agence France Presse
April 21, 2004 Wednesday 8:06 AM Eastern Time

German FM urges Azerbaijan to shape up on democracy, rights


German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, on a visit to the former
Soviet republic of Azerbaijan Wednesday, said the country’s rulers
need to improve their record on human rights and democratic freedoms.

Speaking after a meeting with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev,
the German minister said the oil-rich state should “increase its
efforts” to meet its commitments as a member of pro-democracy club
the Council of Europe.

“For more than three years Azerbaijan has been a member of the
Council of Europe,” Fischer said, speaking through an interpreter.

“We are pleased about that and we supported Azerbaijan’s accession.
The Council of Europe insists on certain standards which include the
democratisation of society, human rights, freedom of speech, the
independence of the courts, and we hope that you will increase your
efforts in this regard.”

Fischer is the most senior European Union politician to visit
Azerbaijan, a nation of eight million people on the shores of the
oil-rich Caspian Sea, for several years.

Azerbaijan’s leadership has been accused of locking up its political
opponents after a disputed presidential election last year, and
subjecting some of them to torture in jail. Officials have denied the

Fischer, who arrived in Azerbaijan from a trip to Afghanistan, was
speaking at the start of a tour of the region which will also take in
neighbouring Armenia and Georgia.

He said Germany was keen to see an end to the long-running conflict
between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the disputed territory of

The row is seen as a major source of instability in the region, which
is becoming a strategic crossroads for oil exports from the Caspian
Sea to Western markets.

“We discussed the conflict and reached the conclusion that the two
sides should make steps toward one another, with the support of the
international community,” Fischer said. “We want the conflict to be
resolved as quickly as possible.

Fischer also said he saw Azerbaijan as the economic power-house of
the region and was keen to see German companies invest in the

He is due to stay overnight in Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku. On
Thursday morning he is scheduled to travel to Armenia. The following
day he is due in Georgia, from where he will return to Germany.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

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