Armenia's Upcoming Chairman Role in Council of Europe Prompts Concerns From Azerbaijan

Apr 23, 2013, 05:56 ET from Azerbaijan Monitor

BAKU, Azerbaijan, April 23, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

Azerbaijan has challenged the decision to hand the chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to neighbouring Armenia, despite that nation's continued occupation of Azerbaijani territory that has displaced and violated basic rights of about one million of its citizens.

Armenia will assume the six-month chair from July, prompting Azerbaijani delegate to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Elkhan Suleymanov, to question the move in a letter to PACE, which he has since made public.

"How do you assess the chairmanship of the state, which keeps under military occupation the territories of the other member state?" he asked in the letter.

He also noted that Armenia has been handed the chair despite the fact it involves one Council of Europe member state occupying the land of another for 25 years after the invasion and in defiance of resolutions from the United Nations, the European Parliament and even PACE itself.

Suleymanov also raised the issue of this year's presidential election in Armenia that returned to power Serzh Sargsyan, a former military commander linked to the massacre of civilians in the town of Khojaly, Azerbaijan, on 26th February of 1992.

The PACE observer team to that election, led by Norwegian politician Ms Karin Woldseth, decreed the poll to be fair despite noting in its report the military occupation of Azerbaijani territories. This, said Suleymanov in his letter, contradicts all notions of "democracy, freedom of speech and the rule of law."

In response to Woldseth's report, Suleymanov has submitted a counter motion with the support of 24 MPs' from five countries declaring the Armenian presidential elections to be undemocratic.

Controversy over this issue erupted last month when Suleymanov was heckled and then barred from speaking while addressing a PACE session in Paris in the aftermath of the Armenian presidential election.

PACE's Monitoring Committee Chairman Andres Herkel later admitted cutting off Suleymanov but said it was due to time management issues, a claim rejected by the Azerbaijani delegation.

Following that incident Suleymanov said his complaints were largely ignored. This time, he hopes to establish a fresh dialogue with his PACE colleagues ahead of Armenia's Committee of Ministers chairmanship in July.

SOURCE Azerbaijan Monitor