April 21 2010

Rafael Huseynov News.Az interviews independent MP Rafael Huseynov,
a member of Azerbaijan's delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of
the Council of Europe (PACE).

What issues will be discussed at the spring session of PACE?

The agenda for the spring session of the Parliamentary Assembly of
the Council of Europe does not include any issues directly related to
Azerbaijan. However, this does not mean that no issues concerning us
will be discussed at the spring session. During most sessions, when
the agenda has not contained matters directly related to Azerbaijan,
the members of our delegation have raised issues related to our
country in the party groups and at the open PACE sessions.

As usual the first day of the session will include a report from
the Committee of Ministers and the committee chairwoman will answer
questions. Today, the chairwoman-in-office of the Committee of
Ministers is Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey and we have
questions for her. Regardless of the answers to these questions and
the issues to be raised, we are concerned about the occupation of 20%
of Azerbaijani land by Armenia, the problem of Nagorno-Karabakh. We
often receive a diplomatic answer to this question, but despite this
we regularly raise the problem, because it is important for us to
raise the issue of Karabakh and occupation of Azerbaijani land at
every PACE session.

Will the Nagorno-Karabakh subcommittee resume work?

I would especially like to mention that the PACE chairman, Mevlut
Cavusoglu, who recently visited Azerbaijan, stressed the importance
of settling the Karabakh conflict during his meetings in Baku. On 25
January 2005 the parliamentary assembly adopted special resolution No
1416 which is the clearest and most exact document on the Karabakh
conflict and the occupation of Azerbaijani land by Armenia ever
adopted by an international organization. In the initial version
of the resolution Armenia was openly called an aggressor that has
occupied Azerbaijani land. The document notes the existence of the
separatist regime in Nagorno-Karabakh and says that Armenia conducted
a policy of ethnic cleansing of Azerbaijanis.

An important feature of the document was the demand to create a
special subcommittee to control the execution of resolution No 1416.

This subcommittee was set up in PACE and at one time functioned
actively at each session of the organization. The subcommittee included
representatives of the Azerbaijani and Armenian delegations and the
Council of Europe was represented at the highest level there.

The committee was quite successful. For a long time the subcommittee
was chaired by Lord Russell-Johnston.

I think the existence of this subcommittee is already a positive
factor. Its existence marks the importance of the Karabakh conflict
settlement, but unfortunately, after Lord Russell-Johnston's death
[in July 2008] the subcommittee has been idle for a long time. The
fact that during the visit to Baku the new PACE president promised
to restore the subcommittee fills us with hope and joy. I think that
if the subcommittee is formed again at the spring session of PACE,
it may be considered a success of the session.

The Milli Majlis delegation usually prepares a new package of documents
for each session of PACE. Are you going to present anything new
this time?

Certainly, we will again prepare a number of documents. However,
I do not want to speak about it ahead of time.

We will provide information about them once they have been signed
and passed, as talking about them in advance can hold things up. But
I can say that some of these documents are related to the occupation
of Azerbaijani land by Armenia, while others are of general European

This shows that the Azerbaijani delegation is active. Azerbaijan will
mark the 10th anniversary of its membership of the Council of Europe
this year. Over this period the members of Azerbaijan's delegation
to PACE have prepared over 100 documents. This is a serious indicator
as the reports considered the main work of the CE have been prepared
on most of them because resolutions are adopted on their basis.

I would like to say that in anticipation of the PACE spring session
a draft and full text of resolutions on light and noise pollution
have been ratified after the phased discussions. This report has been
translated and issued in English and French and it will be distributed
as a working document during the session. The report is expected to
be presented for inclusion on the agenda of the PACE summer session
after discussion of the issues at the committee on the environment,
agriculture and regional issues. This can be considered a success for
the Azerbaijani delegation as a document on common European problems
that we have prepared will be included on the agenda of the PACE
summer session.

What other issues is the Milli Majlis delegation planning to discuss?

There is a plan to discuss refugees and IDPs [internally displaced
persons]. Naturally, we cannot stay indifferent to this as there are
more than a million refugees and IDPs in Azerbaijan today.

A very interesting report on the poverty and disaster suffered by some
peoples of the totalitarian Soviet Union will be heard at the session.

In historical literature this concept is called Holodomor. I would
like to say that the report on the 1930s famine in the USSR was
prepared by Cavusoglu when he was a deputy, that is, before he was
the PACE president. This report has been included on the agenda of
the spring session of PACE. Holodomor is one of the ways in which
the Soviet people were repressed in the 1930s. I have studied this
issue in detail and have a clear idea of the events of those years,
so I am planning to speak during the discussion of this problem.

I am also going to voice my opinion about the report on human rights
to be made by the Council of Europe's human rights commissioner.

Members of the Azerbaijani delegation are preparing to raise the
problem of the observation of the rights of Azerbaijani refugees and
IDPs who suffered as a result of the war and aggression initiated
against Azerbaijan.

I will also talk about the need to act to preserve people's wealth
and welfare from the political, economic and temporary point
of view when Europe is changing. When we speak about the need to
preserve the welfare and health of citizens, many different factors
in the constantly changing Europe need to be taken into account,
including economic crisis, wars and conflicts and their impact on
people's lives. This is a serious issue because Europe is changing
economically and politically and there are different conflicts in
different regions of Europe, especially in the South Caucasus. The
existence of these conflicts has a direct impact on all these issues
and slows the development of economic ties.

In this context I am going to raise the issue of the economic
importance of Azerbaijan in the South Caucasus, the importance of
the successful economic development of Azerbaijan as a basis for
implementation of regional projects. The states that build economic
ties with our country should not bypass the conflict with Armenia,
which is of great importance for Azerbaijan. That is, those who want
to build economic cooperation with us must demand the fair resolution
of the Karabakh conflict with the observation of the territorial
integrity of Azerbaijan on the basis of the norms and principles of
international law, and not demand the opening of the Armenian-Turkish
border and establishment of economic and diplomatic contacts without
the resolution of the Karabakh conflict.

The volcanic eruption in Iceland and its consequences probably won't
be ignored either.

The most urgent problem is how to get to the PACE session. The volcanic
eruption in Iceland and the spreading cloud of ash have hampered
flights. The delegations of most countries will probably not be able
to get to Strasbourg. However, we hope this will not happen and we will
be able to take part in the session because several air companies have
already resumed flights. We are going to fly to France via Lufthansa.

If the flights resume and we get to PACE, we will have an opportunity
to express these thoughts there. I think the agenda will also include
the volcanic eruptions and their implications. Though it is a natural
event, it is connected with both politics and the economy and covers
all spheres of life.

The volcanic eruption has changed many things. People were unable
to take part in conferences and political events, most delegations
could not come to the venue of talks on economic projects. The natural
disaster could change the situation throughout the world. A volcanic
eruption is a natural disaster, but I think that Armenian crimes and
the continuing occupation of 20% of Azerbaijani land is a volcanic
eruption that affects the development and regulation of ties. If
urgent discussions are organized on the volcanic eruption in Iceland
and its implications, we will undoubtedly raise this problem too.