Azerbaijan: Failure in PACE
2017 October 12 ( Thursday ) 21:57:35
On 11 October the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) approved two documents and resolutions on them concerning Azerbaijan. This is the report of the co-rapporteurs of the PACE Monitoring Committee: "The functioning of democratic institutions in Azerbaijan" and the report: "Steps taken in Azerbaijan in respect of human rights during the country's chairmanship of the Council of Europe (May-November 2014).
The resolutions call on the authorities of Azerbaijan to ensure a balance between the branches of power, the independence of the courts and the prosecutor's office, to implement the decisions of the Strasbourg court, including to release the oppositionist Ilgar Mammadov, to release all political prisoners, to create conditions for free activity of NGOs and the media and others.
"Adoption of such prejudiced documents based on subjective judgments, the growth of pressure attempts compels Azerbaijan to reconsider relations with the Council of Europe," said Ali Hasanov, the presidential aide for political and public affairs.
In fact, for the first time in recent years, within the PACE, decisions condemning the internal policy of the Azerbaijani authorities have been consistently taken during a day, which is a clear signal for official Baku about the beginning of a new policy in bilateral relations.
Hasanov's statement shows that the Council of Europe's further policy towards Azerbaijan was poorly calculated in the presidential administration, although the signals about the re-examination of relations in the form of scandalous cases: the caviar diplomacy, PACE chairman Agramunt, Volonte, testified about the upcoming change in the CE-Azerbaijan policy vector. The very fact of voting, when about 90 percent of deputies spoke against Azerbaijan, shows the country's deep isolation, leaving little room for diplomatic maneuvers.
After joining the Council of Europe in 2000, Azerbaijan took certain steps towards raising standards of legislation, the system of building courts and improving parliamentary and administrative institutions, but it regressed in the field of freedom of speech, human rights, the rule of law and fair governance. The country confidently occupies leading positions in world ratings of violators of these democratic values.
The very fact that occurred on October 11 in the PACE testifies to a certain consistent policy that has been formed in relation to Azerbaijan, which is aimed at implementing the demands put forward in the documents. So far, what has happened can be regarded as a kind of psychological break in relations after long years of calming pacification of European politicians and self-confidence of the Azerbaijani establishment.
The confidence of the conservative circle of the Azerbaijani political elite, embodied by Hasanov, that in the long-term it will be possible to neutralize the democratic appeals of the Council of Europe against Azerbaijan, proved unjustified. Even statements threatening Azerbaijan's readiness to withdraw from the Council of Europe and interrupt all relations are no longer able to stop this process.
The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (CMCE) for the first time launched the procedure for preparing a petition to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on the refusal of the Azerbaijani authorities to comply with the ECHR ruling. It is a question of the refusal of the authorities to release Ilgar Mammadov, whose case ECHR in 2014 recognized as "politically motivated" and demanded his release. The resolution on the transfer of the case to the European Court will be considered on October 25 at the CMCE. It will require the votes of 2/3 of the members of the CMCE. The latest PACE vote says that such an outcome is possible.
In the future, it is expected that the events will develop in the trajectory set by the Council of Europe. True, lightning-fast isolation solutions are unlikely to be expected. Everything will proceed within the framework of bilateral discussions, since the PACE's task is not the isolation of Azerbaijan, but the elimination of problems that could make this country democratically presentable within the framework of this European structure. However, this does not give grounds for optimism for the Azerbaijani side, since in its actions the Council of Europe will rely on the opinions of other Western structures and states that almost simultaneously raised claims to the official Baku on default.