Speaker of Azerbaijani Parliament sends a letter to the heads of Parliament of the CoE Member States

On 26 January, Speaker of the Milli Majlis Sahiba Gafarova sent a letter to the Heads of Parliament of the Council of Europe Member States regarding the unfounded accusations that the delegation represented in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) was met with at the PACE winter session, the Press and Public Relations Department of Azerbaijan's Milli Majlis told News.az.

The letter touches upon the essence of the relationship between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Council of Europe. 

‘The Republic of Azerbaijan became a member of the Council of Europe in 2001 with the genuine intention of better promotion and protection of human rights and rule of law in the country. Azerbaijan hoped that this organisation, established to defend the human rights and the rule of law, would assist it in implementing its relevant obligations and commitments in good faith through dialogue and co-operation,’ the letter goes, also drawing attention to the efforts of our country to implement the said obligations. 

The expectations of Azerbaijan that the Council of Europe would not neglect the fact of occupation of Azerbaijani lands by Armenia, the ethnic cleansing policy pursued in those territories and the violation of the rights of the hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijani refugees and IDP were not justified, the letter continues. Azerbaijan was always hopeful that justice would prevail over political considerations for the attainment of sustainable peace in our region with the assistance of the Council and its organs. It was Azerbaijan that remained engaged in the peaceful conflict resolution process despite the almost 30-year-long occupation of her territory and spared no effort to that end whilst also attaching great importance to and respecting its Council of Europe commitments ever since it became a Member State. 

It is however regretful to see the steadfast degradation of values within the Council, where not only the artificial balance between the aggressor and victim prevailed but also the fact of ethnic cleansing of Azerbaijanis and violation of their fundamental rights were simply neglected over the years while a genuine dialogue with Azerbaijan on this matter at different levels has been avoided, the letter reads. 

Despite these challenges, Azerbaijan has always countered the biased and unsubstantiated pressures within the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe coming from different members and groupings with malign intentions. Following Azerbaijan’s restoration of her territorial integrity and sovereignty, our parliamentary delegation is now facing another level of hypocritical campaign, this time in the form of a so-called ‘substantial’ challenge to the credentials of the delegation of Azerbaijan to PACE. The reasons presented for this challenge are neither genuine nor substantial, it is emphasised in the letter. 

‘…this challenge disregards all the co-operative steps so far taken by Azerbaijan with the Council and its bodies, including the very recent engagements. Since her membership in the Council, Azerbaijan has become party to about 65 instruments of the Council of Europe and the national legislation has been brought in line with the Council of Europe standards for better protection of the human rights of individuals on an equal footing.’ 

The letter mentions our country’s co-operation with the Council of Europe in fighting trafficking in human beings, protection of children and combating against domestic violence. Azerbaijan initiated the first ever co-operation platform between the Council of Europe and the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation, recognised as the Baku Process for the promotion of intercultural dialogue. 

‘…the very fact that this challenge of credentials follows Azerbaijan’s recent engagement with the Council through high-level visits of the Commissioner for Human Rights and Secretary General to the country as well as her on-going collaboration with the Advisory Committee of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, is the direct evidence of the challenge’s ill-founded, politically motivated and discriminatory nature. The allegations made against Azerbaijan by PACE members are not supported with first-hand observations and conclusions of other international actors, most notably the CoE representatives who visited Azerbaijan recently.’ 

‘Having considered the above-mentioned facts and attitude of the certain PACE members, we have rejected this move. The Milli Majlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan has been left with no choice except ceasing its participation in the Parliamentary Assembly in protest against the aforementioned highly irresponsible step taken against Azerbaijan. This act is a clear representation of bias and double standards against Azerbaijan as a whole as well as a serious blow to the reputation of the Assembly and the Council in general.

‘Above all, this attitude renders engagement for the delegation of Azerbaijan with PACE impossible, undermining thereby the very fundamental objective of this body which is designed to serve as a platform for dialogue between parliamentarians from different countries. It is unfortunate that this situation ultimately leads to further isolation of the Council from the matters concerning our region, including those directly related to the mandate of the organization.

The letter concludes by the statement that the above-referred trend within PACE aimed at utilising its different mechanisms as means of political pressure is threatening its impartiality and inclusivity, and if it remains unaddressed, will eventually lead to complete politicisation and polarisation of the whole work of the Council of Europe.


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