BAKU: Norwegian minister, Azeri opposition discuss election reforms,

Norwegian minister, Azeri opposition discuss election reforms, rights

ANS TV, Baku
12 Oct 04

[Presenter Leyla Hasanova] Norwegian Foreign Minister Jan Petersen
is on an official visit to Azerbaijan. Petersen held meetings with
opposition leaders today.

[Correspondent, over video of Petersen outside the Norwegian embassy in
Azerbaijan] Petersen, who is the chairman of the ministerial committee
of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe [PACE] as
well, started his official meetings today. He met the leaders of
three opposition parties, i.e. the chairman of the Musavat Party,
Isa Qambar; the chairman of the People’s Front of Azerbaijan Party,
Ali Karimli, and the chairman of the Azarbaycan Milli Istiqlal Party,
Etibar Mammadov, at the Norwegian embassy in Baku.

Following the meeting, Qambar said that the sides had discussed
relations between the Council of Europe and Azerbaijan.

[Qambar] We discussed all the issues. Petersen said that Azerbaijan
should fulfil all its commitments to the Council of Europe.

[Correspondent] Qambar said that the opposition leaders had expressed
their unbiased opinions at the meeting with Petersen.

[Qambar] You must know that what we tell representatives of
international organizations is similar to what we tell the Azerbaijani
media, i.e. you receive the same reports as they do. We discussed
election issues, the events in Azerbaijan after the [2003 presidential]
elections, political arrests, the issue of political prisoners, false
trials, violation of human rights and other problems of Azerbaijan.

[Correspondent] The opposition leaders put forward a proposal to the
European guest as well.

[Qambar] We proposed that the Council of Europe acted in line with
the principles it had declared.

[Correspondent] Karimli said that election reforms had been discussed
at the meeting as well. He spoke about the need for conducting election
reforms ahead of Azerbaijan’s parliamentary and municipal elections.

Mammadov drew Petersen’s attention to the fact that Azerbaijan is
not the only one to blame for its failure to fulfil its commitments
to the Council of Europe. Mammadov said that the Council of Europe
should share responsibility for this as well. Speaking about the lack
of independent courts in Azerbaijan, Mammadov said that this issue
should be settled.

Petersen is meeting representatives of Azerbaijani NGOs at the
moment. He will hold a meeting at the Azerbaijani parliament
tomorrow. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev is expected to receive
Petersen as well. Petersen arrived in Baku following his visit to
Yerevan within the framework of his South Caucasus tour.

Qanira Atasova, Zeynal Zeynalov for ANS.