Member of Azerbaijani Delegation to PACE
Chairman of the Azerbaijan Delegation to the EURONEST PA
On the eve of May 14th when Azerbaijan will take over the chairmanship to the Committee of Ministers, high-level body of the Council of Europe, the campaigns of several traditional anti-Azerbaijani organizations against our country extended. As usual, European Stability Initiative, Freedom House, Human Rights Watch and others among these organizations are particularly distinguished.
Indeed, these organizations hadn’t stopped their biased campaign against Azerbaijan; this campaign has dynamically strengthened since a few months and reached its peak on the eve of the visit of French President François Hollande and CoE Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland to our country and Azerbaijan’s forthcoming chairmanship in the Committee of Ministers on May 14th.
Remarkably, this time the above-mentioned organizations attempt to hold their anti-Azerbaijani campaign in exactly synchronized manner. On the other hand, they again use their traditional methods and “favorite” topic – the issue of “political prisoners”.
Thus, Human Rights Watch sent a letter to French President François Hollande on April 22, European Stability Initiative addressed a letter to public and political figures of several European countries and 114 PACE members on April 23, and Freedom House made a statement on May 6. Interestingly, the keynote of these addresses is completely the same as if these documents were prepared by the same center.
The letter of Human Rights Watch claims that “The authorities have arrested and imprisoned dozens of political activists and government critics, broken up peaceful public demonstrations, and adopted legislation that further restricts fundamental freedoms” in Azerbaijan and hopes that President of France will urge Azerbaijan “to take specific steps to bring it into line with Council of Europe standards” during his visit to Baku on May 11-12.
The statement of Freedom House states: “Democracies should hold the government of Azerbaijan accountable for its poor record on human rights, an even more serious problem as Azerbaijan prepares to take the chairmanship of the Council of Europe”.
European Stability Initiative went far to condemn PACE members as they voted against the motion for resolution of the rapporteur on political prisoners in Azerbaijan in January of 2013 and claimed that “new wave of detention” started, the situation of human rights dramatically deteriorated, and politically motivated imprisonments were held in Azerbaijan due to the fact that PACE members “rejected the motion and a new rapporteur was not appointed”.
The letter called on to urge the President of Azerbaijan to give amnesty to several activists before taking over the chairmanship in the CoE Committee of Ministers, urged CoE Secretary General to visit Azerbaijan urgently, to address that he speaks strongly and convincingly on political prisoners, and finally, to support the initiative of appointing a new rapporteur on political prisoners.
European Stability Initiative didn’t calm down and spread a new material on May 5th after the decision on the visit of CoE Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland to Baku in May was announced. The organization called the relations between Azerbaijan and Council of Europe a game of cat and mouse, didn’t refrain to influence, even make pressure on Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland reminding that he was also the Chair of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, and urged him “to address the issue of political prisoners due to commence in May of the chairmanship of Azerbaijan in the Committee of Ministers”.
Apparently, the goal of anti-Azerbaijani forces is to mobilize their power against our country, to bring the issue of “political prisoners” again into the agenda, and achieve the appointment of a new rapporteur in order to keep this issue on the agenda as a long-term means of pressure against Azerbaijan. Thus, I would like to draw your attention to several points.
First, Azerbaijan resolutely stated that there are no universal legal criteria of CoE on the definition of “political prisoners” applicable to all member states for over 10 years and consistently struggled for adoption of such criteria. Finally, the organization acknowledged the absence of the criteria for “political prisoners”, and the report on the definition of political prisoners was put into discussion in PACE in October of 2012.I would like to note that this report was prepared by Straesser, who has no political responsibility, and he did not demonstrate any creativity while preparing biased report made to order. So, his criteria for the definition of political prisoners duplicated the criteria worked out by group of independent experts set out by Secretary General in 2001. And this served not to the solution of the problem, on the contrary, to deadlock and its use as political pressure in future.
It should particularly be underlined that the forces beware of the absence of the quorum on the eve of voting in PACE grounded the achievement of the criteria on political prisoners on biased and slanderous anti-Azerbaijani campaign and consequently, their consistent blackmail and pressures influenced the position of MPs. Even after such a political fooling, the voting resulted in draw with 89/89. This voting undermined the credibility of PACE on this issue and proved a split in the Assembly. Thus, some veteran MPs mentioned that they hadn’t seen such equality of votes and big discrepancy in PACE. So, as the rules of procedure are not perfect, the report on the definition of political prisoners was legally considered adopted. However, in view of split and contradiction regarding the adoption of the criteria on political prisoners in draw with 89/89, the result became a black spot from political and moral point in the history of the Council of Europe.
Secondly, the situation in the field of human rights and freedoms in several CoE member states is not positive in comparison with Azerbaijan. Interestingly, international organizations, as well as PACE is persistent on this biased position in appointing a special rapporteur on political prisoners only in Azerbaijan among 47 PACE member states. All issues in the field of human rights and democracy for other member states under monitoring procedure have been referred to the competency of co-rapporteurs of the Monitoring Committee and were being solved on this framework. Azerbaijan demanded to fulfill principles of equality of the PACE member states and rule of law and to stop discrimination for a long time. The issues on the situation of human rights and democracy in Azerbaijan were also referred to the competency of co-rapporteurs of the Monitoring Committee as in other member states after Straesser’s report on political prisoners in Azerbaijan was rejected in PACE session in January of 2013. So, why does PACE discriminate?
Thirdly, I wonder why European Stability Initiative, Freedom House and Human Rights Watch, which considered themselves legal defenders on the eve of Armenian’s presidency to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in 2013 preferred to keep silent? Why these organizations, which present themselves as unbiased, people of principle, antagonistic and constructive in the international world, turned blind eye to the Armenian occupation of 20% of Azerbaijani territories, over 1 million refugees and IDPs, mass and brutal violation of their rights? Why didn’t these “defenders of human rights” call on Armenia to stop the occupation, to restore the violated rights of over 1 million people, and to ensure their return to their homes and live safely when Armenia presided over the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe? Why do these organizations ignore the blockade of Nakhchivan for 25 years and humanitarian catastrophe of Sarsang reservoir for 23 years, which can lead to massacre of 400 thousand people? And whyvdid they welcome the fact that the invader state teaches Europe democracy, human rights and rule of law? Why do these organizations try to appoint a rapporteur on political prisoners only in Azerbaijan among 47 member states?
Too many questions, but one answer: these organizations themselves serve for Armenia and its defenders and fulfill orders serving their interests.
The analysis of the materials prepared by the above-mentioned NGOs against Azerbaijan gives ground to tell that they were prepared in one center and that these organizations were instructed from one center. The main goal of these organizations are to seriously undermine the image of Azerbaijan in the international world, to engage it all the time by proving that its image in the field of human rights was deliberately violated, to distract its attention from working towards the settlement of priority issues, especially the elimination of Armenian occupation, and to make the fact of occupation be forgotten.
Obviously, anti-Azerbaijani forces consider that there is a favorable condition for combining efforts against Azerbaijan by grounding on intensifying of the international situation due to crisis in Ukraine, the application of sanctions against Russia by the USA and EU, temporary suspension of Russia from voting rights in PACE, being beware of campaigns against them because of increasing strategic importance for leading power centers of several countries. Furthermore, they are going to strongly undermine the image of Azerbaijan on the international level by turning these anti-Azerbaijani efforts to the practical context on the eve of the chairmanship in the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. I believe that they are seriously mistaken this time as in previous situations.