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PACE document, Sep 24, 2001

  


Decision of Ministerial Council of PACE 
(Strasburg, Sep 24, 2001) 

Representatives had adopted following replies to answer of question No 396 of  Mrs. Hajiyeva: 
1.  The Committee of Ministers noted with interest Written Question N° 396 by Mrs. Hajiyeva on the recognition of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan by Armenia.
2.   Ms Hajiyeva refers to the Committee of Ministers’ 108th Session of 10 and 11 May 2001. At this meeting, the Committee of Ministers did indeed examine the situation in the Balkans and the Caucasus. At the close of the Session, at which all its members were represented, the Committee of Ministers adopted a Communiqué, paragraph 2 of which states:
3.   “The Ministers reaffirmed their support for the respect for internationally recognised borders, sovereignty and territorial integrity of states throughout Europe, as well as for the other principles of international law set out in the United Nations Charter, the CSCE Helsinki Final Act and other relevant texts.”  
4.  In adopting this sentence:
“One delegation said that it accepted this sentence on the understanding that there was no hierarchy between the principles of international law referred to, whether these are explicitly mentioned or not. That delegation made a statement in this respect, which is reproduced in the minutes of the meeting.” 
5. It follows that the Committee of Ministers, has explicitly reaffirmed its support for the respect of all internationally-recognised borders, sovereignty and territorial integrity of all members of the Council of Europe, whilst equally acknowledging the value of other principles of international law. The right to self-determination of peoples and the other principles contained in the Helsinki final act will be equally and unreservedly applied, each of them being interpreted taking into account the others. Thus the right to self-determination should be respected, in conformity with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and with norms of international law, including those relating to territorial integrity of states. 
Consequently, this right may only be exercised following peaceful negotiations. Use of force for the purpose of acquiring territory is unacceptable and any resultant acquisition cannot be recognised as lawful.
6.   The Committee of Ministers refers to paragraph 12 of the Communiqué of the 108th Session quoted above. In addition, at its 761st meeting (18 July 2001, item 2.6) in the context of examination of the GT-SUIVI.AGO’s report, it had again “urged the authorities of both countries to take active steps to find a peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict”. In this regard, the Committee of Ministers refers to the Group’s report which had been transmitted to the Parliamentary Assembly.
7.   The Committee of Ministers appeals to the two member states concerned to find a compromise according to the principles mentioned in paragraph 5 above and to avoid any statement in favour of a military solution or likely to strengthen enmity and hatred, in disregard of the commitments entered into by both countries when joining the Council of Europe. The Committee of Ministers is in fact convinced that a peaceful solution to this conflict is a matter of fundamental importance and great urgency, because the implementation of this joint commitment by the two countries may have a positive effect on the honouring of all their other commitments. Poverty and hatred are not fertile ground for democracy and respect for human rights, and peace is essential not only for the stability of the region and its economic development, but also for the establishment and consolidation of democracy in these countries.














Accession
Following Resolutions Res(2000)13 and Res(2000)14 adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 9 November 2000 at its 107th Session and inviting Armenia and Azerbaijan respectively to become members of the Council of Europe, the Chair of the Committee of Ministers paid an official visit to the two countries and presented his report (CM/Inf(2001)1) at the 737th meeting of the Deputies on 17 January.  In the light of this report, and bearing in mind the conclusions of the monitoring group GT-SUIVI.AGO (GT-SUIVI.AGO(2001)1), the Deputies set 25 January 2001 as the date for the accession ceremony.  Eight days later, Armenia and Azerbaijan joined the Council of Europe bringing the number of the Organisation’s member states to 43.
Relations with member states
Armenia and Azerbaijan
At their 737th meeting on 17 January (737/1.5a, 737/1.5b) the Deputies agreed on the need for a specific monitoring procedure for Armenia and Azerbaijan following accession and to mandate the Monitoring Group GT-SUIVI.AGO with this task within the wider context of the activities of GR-EDS.

The GT-SUIVI.AGO met on several occasions and started a dialogue on the monitoring procedure with the representatives of Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Furthermore, at their 738th meeting on 31 January (738/2.1b) the Deputies decided that, in the context of the specific monitoring procedure for Armenia and Azerbaijan, cases of alleged political prisoners in these countries be transmitted to the Secretary General by Delegations to the Committee of Ministers before 28 February 2001. They approved, in this context, the Secretary General’s initiative to refer these cases to a group of independent experts and requested that the Secretary General submit on a confidential basis the experts’ opinion on the referred cases, as soon as available, to the GT-SUIVI.AGO.  (See also the Final Communiqué of the 108th Session of the Committee of Ministers (11 May) and decisions taken on 21 September (765bis/2.4)). 

At their 761st meeting on 18 July (761/2.6) the Deputies examined the Report of the GT-SUIVI.AGO which summarises the work carried out during the first six months of the year.  On this basis, and whilst recognising the significant progress achieved, they

-       invited Armenia and Azerbaijan to continue their efforts to comply with the timetable and commitments accepted at the time of their accession;

-        noted that GT-SUIVI.AGO would continue its work in the context of the specific monitoring procedure for Armenian and Azerbaijan;
-        invited Armenia and Azerbaijan to consult the Secretariat of the Council of Europe at all stages in the preparation of draft legislation and within a reasonable time, including consultation on the final version of texts to be put to a vote in parliament; 

-        invited Armenia and Azerbaijan to organise, with the help of the Council of Europe and with an eye to the effective application of laws, training seminars for civil servants, police officers, judges and lawyers;

-        urged the authorities of both countries to take active steps to find a peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict; 

-        instructed the Secretariat to forward this report to the Parliamentary Assembly as part of the dialogue between the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly on monitoring;

-        agreed to resume consideration of this item in the light of proposals made (see decisions taken on 19 September (765/2.1c) below.
At their 762nd meeting on 5 September (762/2.1a) the Deputies authorised the Secretariat to examine with the Azerbaijani authorities the modalities of setting up an Information Office of the Council of Europe in Baku, in conformity with Resolution (99) 9 of the Committee of Ministers.
Moreover, at their 765th meeting on 19 September (765/2.1c) the Deputies asked the Venice Commission to stand ready, if the authorities of Armenia and Azerbaijan, in due time and in consultation with the co-Chairs of the Minsk Group, were to envisage the possible assistance of the Council of Europe to the Minsk Group in dealing with the legal aspects related to a solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. They authorised the Secretary General to appoint, for an initial period ending in December 2002, “Human Rights and Rule of Law Officers” to be located in the OSCE Missions in Baku (Azerbaijan) and Yerevan (Armenia) (pending the possible establishment of Council of Europe Information Offices) and noted that the deployment of these officers would be financed from existing resources within the Ordinary Budget.
At their 765bis meeting on 21 September (765bis/2.4) the Deputies welcomed the Secretary General’s independent experts’ report on alleged political prisoners in Armenia and Azerbaijan (CM/Monitor(2001)12 and Addendum), and Azerbaijan’s swift first reaction to it. They adopted the following declaration on this matter:
“The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe welcomes the news that the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan has issued on 17 August 2001 a decree pardoning 89 political prisoners, 66 of whom have been released and 23 of whom have had their sentences reduced. This is a significant step forward in the development of democracy in Azerbaijan, as a result of the independent experts’ report to the Secretary General, the Committee of Ministers’ efforts through its Monitoring Group GT-SUIVI.AGO and the Parliamentary Assembly’s monitoring procedure.
The Committee of Ministers nevertheless points out that on joining the Council of Europe Azerbaijan undertook to release or grant a new trial to all political prisoners, identified as such by the experts, some of whom are still in prison, in particular Mr. Iskander Gamidov, Mr. Alikram Gumbatov and Mr Raqim Gaziyev, expressly mentioned in Parliamentary Assembly Opinion No. 222 (2000). The Committee of Ministers however welcomes the decision of the government of Azerbaijan to grant a new trial to Mr. Gamidov. It renews its request to the Azerbaijan Government to persevere in its efforts to honour its obligations to the full. It hopes that the 10th anniversary of the independence of Azerbaijan on 18 October 2001 will afford the opportunity for a further gesture of reconciliation and will provide a solution to a problem which should not exist in a Council of Europe member state.”
The Deputies asked the Group to continue the dialogue with the Azerbaijan authorities on this question in order to give full implementation to this commitment undertaken by Azerbaijan and to aim for the settlement of this question in the near future. They also asked the Group to continue the dialogue with the Armenian authorities on the questions about alleged “political prisoners” presented by the opposition representatives during the visit of the Group in July 2001.
* * *
It is to be noted that on 24 August 2001, the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers, the President of the Parliamentary Assembly and the Secretary General called on the Nagorno-Karabakh de facto authorities to refrain from staging the unilateral “local self-government elections” in the province, planned for 5 September.
Concerning Written Question No. 396 by Mrs Hajiyeva to the Committee of Ministers on Recognition of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan by Armenia, the Deputies had held a first exchange of views at their 761 meeting on 18 July (761/2.5), and adopted a reply to the Written Question, prepared by the GT-SUIVI.AGO, at their 765th meeting on 19 September (765/2.3).
At their 769th meeting on 17 October (769/2.3) the Deputies held a first exchange of views on the reply to be given to Written Question No. 397 by Mr Hovhannisyan on Statements by Azerbaijan on solving the Nagorno Karabakh conflict by military means. They invited the GT-SUIVI.AGO, enlarged to include the Representatives of Armenia and of Azerbaijan, to prepare a draft reply to the Written Question. Regarding Written Question No. 398 by Mr Hovhannisyan on Turkey’s blockade of Armenia, the Deputies on 17 October (769/2.4) also instructed the Secretariat to prepare elements for a draft reply to the Question in the light of information provided during the meeting and in consultation with the delegations concerned. They agreed to resume consideration of this question at one of their future meetings.
At that same meeting (769/2.1a) the Deputies authorised a Secretariat delegation to visit Yerevan to examine with the Armenian authorities the modalities of setting up an Information Office, in conformity with Resolution (99) 9 of the Committee of Ministers, including budgetary implications, with a view to reporting back to the Deputies at one of their forthcoming meetings.
At their 776th meeting on 6 December (776/2.3) the Deputies adopted a reply to Written Question No. 397 by Mr Hovhannisyan.




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