Azeri opposition leader complains to European envoy about rights situation

Turan news agency
30 Jun 04


Baku, 30 June: PACE Secretary-General Bruno Haller, who is paying an
official visit to Azerbaijan, held a meeting today with party leaders
represented in parliament.

The executive secretary of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party, Ali
Ahmadov, said that useful cooperation has been established between
Azerbaijan and the Council of Europe. He noted that all parties of
Azerbaijan are unanimous regarding the Karabakh settlement.

Haller voiced his hope that the work [former rapporteur of the
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe for the
Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict and Secretary-General of the Council of
Europe] Terry Davis had started will be continued and a new rapporteur
for the Karabakh problem will submit to the Parliamentary Assembly a
report reflecting reality.

The leader of the People's Front of Azerbaijan Party (Reformers), Ali
Karimli, said that the public had pinned great hopes on Azerbaijan's
admission to the Council of Europe. We expected Strasbourg to render
assistance in solving its commitments. However, the public has been
disappointed with the Council of Europe as most of the 14 obligations,
which should have been fulfilled in 2002-2004, have not yet been
kept. The problem of political prisoners should have been resolved in
the first two years but three and a half years have elapsed and the
problem still exists. Moreover, seven opposition leaders have been
imprisoned. Rallies and pickets are banned in a Council of Europe
member state. Recommendations by the Venice Commission of the Council
of Europe on the development of election legislation have been
ignored. No fight against corruption is being carried out and the
implementation of the law on this issue has been postponed. Karimli
also complained that there are no independent courts in the country.

The Council of Europe is not taking any measures to exert pressure on
the Azerbaijani authorities to make them fulfil its commitments.

"We supposed that Azerbaijan would come closer to the Council of
Europe's standards, however, this has not happened and, moreover, the
Council of Europe is getting adapted to Azerbaijani standards,"
Karimli said.