Thursday, April 15, 2010

Free and fair elections ‘the best way’ for Azerbaijan to mark ten years in the Council of Europe

Mevlüt Çavusoglu, the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), has said that holding free and fair parliamentary elections in November would be “the best way” for Azerbaijan to celebrate its tenth anniversary as a member of the Council of Europe next year.

The President, speaking mid-way through a four-day official visit to Azerbaijan (13-16 April), said the aim of his visit was to express support for the continuation of democratic reforms in the country: “Through our monitoring procedure, the Venice Commission’s advice and input from other Council of Europe programmes, we are trying to help the authorities create the best possible conditions for these elections.”

“I am persuaded that these conditions can only be put in place through the joint efforts of all political forces, both the majority party and opposition parties, and I am here to facilitate this dialogue. The Council of Europe can help in this process, but the job itself must be done by the politicians and people of Azerbaijan.”

Mr Çavusoglu also stressed the urgency of solving the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. “The Assembly has already clearly stated its position on this matter in Resolution 1416, adopted in 2005. We hope to contribute to finding a solution by reconstituting the ad hoc Bureau committee on the conflict, where MPs from both Azerbaijan and Armenia can meet, together with other Assembly members, to move forward on this difficult question.”

The President added that he intended to do his best to avoid “double standards” in the way member states were treated: “We have common standards that apply equally to everyone: we are in favour of democracy and human rights.”

During his visit, Mr Çavusoglu met the President of the Republic, the Speaker of Parliament, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and representatives of political parties in Parliament, as well as representatives of parties not in Parliament and NGOs.

Press Release: PACE. Published in Strasbourg on 14 April 2010.

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