Zerkalo, Azerbaijan
Dec 20 2007


The MP that keep himself in cotton-wool

This is the brand of the `hermetic' parliament that has nothing to do
even with the fate of Karabakh

by Ibrahim Bayandurlu


Here is the respectable press secretary of the [Azerbaijani] Foreign
Ministry joining the chorus of bureaucrats at different levels who
declare that this or that unit or institution of the executive branch
of power does not report to the parliament.

"Executive reaction"

The other day revered Xazar Ibrahim [press secretary of the Foreign
Ministry], whose knowledge and deep intellect leave no space for
doubts, has essentially made a sensational, but quite an ordinary for
the Azerbaijani public statement: "Azerbaijani is not a
parliamentary, but a presidential republic. The foreign minister of
the country reports directly to the Azerbaijani president and
therefore there is no need for him to address the parliament."

I would like to note that according to the national portal Day.az, it
was exactly how the diplomat commented to the media on the initiative
of several members of parliament to invite the Azerbaijani foreign
minister to the legislative body to update MPs on the negotiations
with Armenia.

"Several ministries are subordinated directly to the president and
one of such state structures is the Foreign Ministry. That is why the
foreign minister reports to the president," Mr. Ibrahim added.

Knowing the deep knowledge and professionalism of this person one may
suggest with a high likelihood that such an anti-parliamentary move
is a reaction to the initiative of the MPs, which was prepared and
coordinated in the higher executive-bureaucratic and official
circles. I will try to address my journalistic words of intelligent
disagreement to those people, but not to Xazar Ibrahim, who deserves
every praise as an honest and unfortunately rare expert of his
business.

Parliament can invite foreign minister

First of all, the respectable gentlemen are deeply deluded from the
constitutional and legal viewpoint. It should be noted above all that
despite the presidential model of work of the executive authorities
in the country (under the constitution the president is the head of
state and administers the executive branch of power), the Milli
Maclis [parliament] of Azerbaijan has quite serious powers and
functions. In particular, in accordance with Article 94 [of the
constitution], "the general rules established by the Milli Maclis of
the Republic of Azerbaijan", the parliament identifies the rules of
ratification and invalidation of international covenants. Under
Article 95 of the national "Legal Bible" [the constitution] the Milli
Maclis has the authority to establish diplomatic missions of the
Republic of Azerbaijan abroad at the presentation of the president of
the country, ratify or invalidate international covenants, as well as
agree to the declaration of war or the conclusion of peace on the
basis of the appeal from the president. This is in view of the fact
that the president of Azerbaijan does not have a permanent
representative in parliament. This creates a situation in which the
parliament has the right to demand that the foreign minister provide
clarifications on certain issues. But this is not all. In accordance
with the Constitutional Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan, which is
an inseparable part of the constitution, the government of Azerbaijan
is accountable to the Milli Maclis. It means that if the entire
Cabinet of Ministers is accountable to such a legislative and
representative body as the Milli Maclis, the foreign minister is also
accountable to the parliament as a member of the government. It is
like two and two is four. Nobody denies or challenges the truth in
the statements like "the Azerbaijani foreign minister reports
directly to the president". But this constitutional provision, which
is as clear as a day, does not invalidate another constitutional
provision saying that the foreign minister like any other member of
the government reports and is accountable to the parliament. This
gives the Milli Maclis a right to initiate parliamentary hearings on,
say the Karabakh problem, and urge [Azerbaijani Foreign Minister] Mr
[Elmar] Mammadyarov to provide clarifications on certain issues
related to this problem.

The statement of the Foreign Ministry also has some political
minuses, which are both internal and external. Let us start with the
fact that the parliament, being a supreme and nationally elected
representative body, provides a vital arena "for letting off steam of
a public outcry". This is a kind of shied against lightening through
which the public gets a certain minimal static from illusions of
general agreement and consensus.

Sacred topic

In the meantime, the Karabakh problem is a sacred topic for
Azerbaijanis. The parliament's ignoring this topic would drive public
passions beyond the political system. Why to give an aggressive and
protesting mob a charge (forgive me for tautology) to supply the rest
of the society with uncompromising opposition in the run-up to the
presidential race when it is possible to ensure the discussion of
this issue in the parliament with the participation of the foreign
minister? MPs do not know what to answer their voters, especially
refugees who ask: "Why do not you consider the Karabakh issue
comprehensively? Why do you not invite Elmar Mammadyarov to address
the Milli Maclis? What does he discuss with the Armenians, etc". I
would like to assure you that there may be and there are people with
high legal education among refugees who will find a good
counter-argument to the argument of the press secretary of the
Foreign Ministry and then start hurling abuse at different people
>From petty Z from a housing department to the high and inaccessible
A.

President's key argument?

There is a foreign policy moment here. President Ilham Aliyev quite
often says that the people of Azerbaijan will not be reconciled to
the occupation of its territories. So, why do you, Mr officials,
deprive the parliament, which is elected by that people of
Azerbaijan, of the right and opportunity to invite a government
official and discuss the problem of the liberation of the above
mentioned territories? It is quite evident that the will of the
Azerbaijani people is the key argument in the hands of the president
in his interaction with the international communication. Relying on
this will, Ilham Aliyev demands that the world community and
international organizations crack down on the aggressor.

By the way, the late [Azerbaijani President] Heydar Aliyev understood
the aforementioned facts very well. It was not by a mere chance that
the patriarch with a true sweep of statehood held broad discussions
of the Karabakh problem in the Milli Maclis with the participation of
the wide public and personally attended the parliament for this
purpose. This was a message to the world powers: "Yes, it is true
that I control everything in my country. But in the Karabakh issue
even I am vulnerable to the will of the Azerbaijani people like any
other ruler."

But different times have come, bringing to the agenda such an issue,
too: how to convince [US Secretary of State] Condoleezza Rice that
the Azerbaijanis have made up their mind on the basis of the formula
"either Karabakh or death" and therefore the Azerbaijani government
should be assisted in returning the occupied territories? What if her
assistant [US ambassador to Azerbaijan] Ann Derse sends her a
telegram saying: "yesterday the Mayor's Office of Baku refused to
give permission to a public organization to hold a rally dedicated to
the Karabakh problem. Police prevented protesters from attempting to
have an unsanctioned rally in the evening. Today the foreign minister
rejected the invitation of MPs to come to the parliament to discuss
the Karabakh problem, saying through his press secretary that
Azerbaijan is not a parliamentary, but a presidential republic and he
himself directly reports to the president of the country. Therefore,
there is no need for him to address the parliament."

In a word, it is not serious, gentlemen, not serious at all...

[translated]