BAKU: Baku Eats Humble Pie For Its PACE Delegates

Baku Today, Azerbaijan
May 2 2004

Baku Eats Humble Pie For Its PACE Delegates

Baku Today 03/05/2004 00:15

Azeri parliamentarians’ failure to attend PACE’s 29 April meeting on
Cyprus issue was not out of Azerbaijan’s state policy, but a `careless’
attitude of the MPs, Anadolu news agency quoted Azeri ambassador to
Turkey Mammad Aliyev as saying on Saturday.
The ambassador sought to assure Turkish reporters in Ankara that the
happenings in PACE did not mean that his country had backed down
supporting the Turkish Cypriots.
`Azerbaijan will continue to support the Turkish Republic of Northern
Cyprus as much as it can,’ the ambassador said.
Only one out of nine Azeri MPs showed up at PACE’s meeting, which
adopted a resolution with 47-23 votes. While the resolution paid
tribute to Turkish Cypriots for their backing Annan’s reunification
plan and stressed the need for ceasing the Turkish side’s isolation, it
turned down a suggestion on the Turkish Cypriots’ independent
representation at the Parliamentary Assembly.

The resolution said that representatives of the Turkish Cypriot
community could participate at the PACE only as part of integrated
Cypriot delegation.

The event prompted dissatisfaction in Turkey, as the Turkish media
lashed out at Azerbaijani MPs for being indifferent to the problems of
Turkish Cypriots.

The Azerbaijani government also was quick to accuse its delegation of
negligence in order to sooth ire in Ankara.

Ali Hasanov, head of socio-political department at presidential
apparatus, criticized members of the Azerbaijani delegation at the PACE
for their `irresponsibility.’

`Turkey has a good reason to feel offended,’ Hasanov said in an
interview with ANS on Saturday.

He expressed hope that the `misunderstanding’ in PACE would not serve
to besmirch relationship between Azerbaijan and Turkey.

But Samad Seyidov, head of the delegation, said there was no reason to
exaggerate the event, as he did not see a big problem in the
Azerbaijani delegation’s absence at the PACE meeting.

`Some people are trying to make use of this for their interests,’ he
said, but would not elaborate.

Samadov said since 47 PACE deputies voted for and only 23 against the
resolution, Azerbaijani parliamentarians’ presence could have changed
nothing anyway.

Another member of the Azerbaijani delegation, Asim Mollazade from the
opposition Popular Front Party, even slammed his Turkish counterparts
at PACE for their poor performance on the Cyprus issue and claimed that
the Turkish MPs were trying to put blame on Azeris for their failure.

`I have appealed to Turkish Foreign Ministry several times and said
their delegation to the Council of Europe cannot represent Turkish
interests properly in the high European body,’ Mollazade told ANS on
his arrival to Baku from Strasbourg.

On contrary to the statements that the Azeri delegation did not show up
at the PACE meeting because of misunderstanding, Mollazade said there
were some political reasons they did not attend the meeting.

`If we had supported Turkish Cypriot delegates at CE, a new precedent
would have emerged and Karabakh Armenians could have made use of this
to demand representation at the Parliamentary Assembly,’ Mollazade told