30.06.2008 13:27

Interview of David Kramery, Deputy Assistant Secretary for European
and Eurasian Affairs at the U.S. Department of State with Mir Shahin.

- Which one from the three South Caucasian countries do you consider
more stable and reliable from the point of view of democracy and
human rights - Georgia, Azerbaijan or Armenia?

- Each of them is safe and I am going to visit the three countries this
week. Every country is unique and each of them has specific problems.

Besides, every country has peculiar relations with the United
States. The common point for all these countries is that we want
to witness more democratic development, more observance of human
rights in them. I hold meetings with governmental officials, civil
society and pres representatives on human rights issue in all South
Caucasian countries. These meetings are aimed at stressing the US's
great attention to human rights and democracy issues.

- Before Azerbaijan, you paid a visit to Armenia. As I know, there
was held a protest action opposite the US Embassy to Armenia that
time. What was the action aimed at?

- My visit to the South Caucasus began from Armenia. I saw a
protest action while being in that country. The protestors wanted
to draw my and my embassy colleagues' attention to the arrest of the
editor-in-chief. I met with them, got acquainted with the problem. And
of course, I told them the Embassy was already considering the
issue. We are always ready to hear such people in the every country
of the world.

- How do you assess the situation on human rights and democracy in
Azerbaijan, especially in pre-election period?

- I'd like to stress that we pay a great attention to relations with
Azerbaijan. There is a perfect cooperation between the United States
and Azerbaijan in energy and security spheres. We are also interested
in democracy and human rights issues and we would like to see more
progress in these spheres. Azerbaijan has forthcoming presidential
elections in October.

We stress the importance of these elections for Azerbaijan. And we
hold meetings not only with governmental bodies, but also opposition,
media representatives, ordinary citizens. We focus on political
processes, media freedom, supremacy of law and other issue in these
meetings. These issues are important for not only Azerbaijan-US
relations, but also Azerbaijan's authority in the world.

-You will have meetings with governmental officials, NGO and media
representatives. How reliable do you consider the information that
you will get from those meetings?

-We get information from different sources and put them together. We
are not aimed to believe to that information, but to prove
it. The important point here is that a government is not the only
one responsible to determine democratic future of a country. Civil
society, ordinary people, media, independent and free justice system
as well as political opposition should take part in decision-making
process. This is very important point for the United States.

- Speaking about democracy and human rights issues, officials of
the United States as well as European countries make more remarks to
Azerbaijan. How do military conflicts affect the democracy?

- The United States, together with other states tries to help
settlement of Daqliq Qarabaq conflict. My colleague and OSCE Minsk
Group co-chair Matthew Bryza deals with this issue. He visits Baku
and other countries trying to find the way of solution. I would stress
that presence of a conflict should not be an excuse for a country to
fulfill its commitments on human rights and democracy. Regulation of
a conflict eases solution of human rights issue. This is one of the
reasons we are trying to settle Daqliq Qarabaq conflict.

- I remembered the Gulf War. Baghdad correspondent point of Al Jazeera
was destroyed killing one correspondent and one cameraman during the
war. This was an accident happened as the result of war actions. In
general, democracy is limited within a country which is in conflict
or in war.

-As I know, there is no state of emergency in Azerbaijan. And if
there is any, it should not be reason for limiting human rights,
for escaping from fulfillment of commitments. Military situation is
much more dangerous and journalists sometimes risk their lives. And
in some cases we grieve for dead journalists. So, it is important to
have a peaceful situation for journalists to perform their duties.

- The cease-fire agreement signed between Azerbaijan and Armenia in
1994 was not aimed at development of democracy. It was concluded to
reach quick solution of Daqliq Qarabaq conflict. And people began
looking forward for regulation of the conflict after the agreement
was reached. So, if we have the conflict unsettled for 14 years how
can we speak about development of democracy in Azerbaijan?

-I can not agree that a conflict should welcome violation of laws,
human rights. Conflicts create danger and that is why we are trying
to settle the conflict together with Minsk Group co-chairs. However,
there should not be any excuse, any reason to limit human rights and
democracy in a country.

- Though you are not directly dealing with Daqliq Qarabaq conflict,
I'd like to know your personal opinion. How do you see solution way
of the conflict?

-I see hard work of Matthew Bryza in this issue. So, he has
something to say about that. I'm also acquainted with Daqliq Qarabaq
conflict. But, Bryza is the best man in the Department of State to
speak about the conflict.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress