CoE Venice Commission criticizes intended changes to Azeri constitution in referendum on 26.9.2016

A preliminary opinion by the Council of Europe’s constitutional law experts, (the Venice Commission) criticizes draft modifications to the constitution of Azerbaijan, which will be put to a national referendum on Monday 26 September. Many proposed amendments would severely upset the balance of power by giving “unprecedented” powers to the President (in this case Ilham Aliev), according to the Venice Commission opinion.

For example, the extension of the presidential mandate from five to seven years “cannot be justified” given the already very strong position of the President, who since 2009 can be re-elected without term limits.

Another reform gives the President power to dissolve parliament, which does not only make political dissent in parliament “largely ineffective”, according to the opinion, but also affects the independence of the judiciary, since parliament’s role in the approval of judges will be reduced.

The Venice Commission experts were “particularly worried” by the introduction of the figure of unelected Vice-Presidents, who may at some moment govern the country, and the President’s prerogative to declare early presidential elections at his convenience. There are many rumours in Baku that Ilham Aliev will install his wife as Vice President.

The opinion also criticizes the procedure of the referendum as having lacked proper debate in parliament and having been carried out too quickly and without real public discussion beforehand.

Indeed, due to time constraints, the Council of Europe opinion rapporteurs themselves were unable to visit Azerbaijan and did not benefit from direct consultations with the authorities, experts and other stakeholders. In this context, the Venice Commission regrets that the authorities of Azerbaijan did not consult it prior to submitting the draft to the referendum.

The experts praised proposed amendments in the human rights chapter of the Azeri constitution, such as the introduction of the concept of „human dignity“ and of the right to “conscientious treatment excluding arbitrariness” by state bodies and of certain procedural rights. They also praised the proposal to elevate the “principle of proportionality” to the constitutional level, which means that every restriction to human rights should be proportionate to the aim the state seeks to achieve.

However, the experts expressed reservations with other proposed changes in the human rights chapter, in particular one which provides for limitations to public gatherings for the sake of „public order“ and “morality”, since this provision risks to be too broadly interpreted. The opinion also is concerned about a proposed provision on withdrawing citizenship that “reduces the scope of the current guarantee” that prevents withdrawal of citizenship in absolute terms.

 

Happy 2015 by a persona non grata

I want to tell  that I have discovered (again) my name on a list of personae non gratae – unwanted persons for entry in the state territory – in Azerbaijan:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_declared_personae_non_gratae_in_Azerbaijan

My „crime“ consisted in 2013 in being embedded, as Chief Editor of „European Union Foreign Affairs Journal“ (EUFAJ), into a delegation of presidential election observers in Nagorno Karabakh, composed by EuFoA (European Friends of Armenia), a Brussels-based office which works for closer contacts between the peoples of the EU and Armenia. I am not a member of EuFoA, but always open for talks, contacts and other journalistic démarches towards everybody. I had also published in EUFAJ several articles by Azerbaijani authors, which were directly working for the government there or glorified the present government – I never had a problem with this, as my whole work is in favour of press freedom and free expression of opinions, also within a paper which is e.g. led by myself.

However, for being kept on this list which is often called a „list of shame“ for the Baku government, I am very grateful. It will give me the possibility, if asked (or not), to mention the persecution of journalists, bloggers, critical civil society representatives, to mention the fact that Azerbaijan is at present probably the European champion in corruption and in manipulative diplomacy („caviar diplomacy“). After all, it is a honour for me to be included on this list – I am in very nice company, with e.g. the former EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus, with many distinguished scientists and members of different parliaments – and with Montserrat Caballé, the Spanish singer.

Rests only to state that the Azerbaijani personnel files need an urgent update. What I have been attributed, to be a „German Member of European Parliament“, was finished in my first youth on 31th July, 1989. It is recommended therefore to every person likely to come „on the list“ to travel with topical bio notes, to help the helpless Azerbaijani authorities.

If one knows that e.g. the former Council of Europe rapporteur on Azerbaijan, Mr. Strässer M.P./Germany, has been barred to enter the country because he was a rapporteur (now he is charged with Human Rights for the German Federal Government), I cannot feel bad but feel a great honour to be included on this list. Unfortunately, I cannot travel now to Azerbaijan any more, but this won’t prevent me to publish remarks at every possibility and where it is appropriate on the Human Rights‘ situation in the country, and about the „specificities“ of the reign of Mr. Ilham Aliev (whom I cannot address as „Mr. President“ as he had faked all the election results in the past).If this is too „subjective“ for the Azerbaijani authorities, they always can invite me, but please do not forget then to change the list before.

All the best for a happy 2015,

 

Hans-Jürgen Zahorka, LIBERTAS – Europaeisches Institut GmbH

Chief Editor, European Union Foreign Affairs Journal (EUFAJ)

www.libertas-institut.eu, EUFAJ: www.eufaj.eu

Facebook: European Union Foreign Affairs Journal

 

International Crisis Group (ICG) Calls on Europe To Act On Karabakh Conflict

By Dr. Michael Kambeck

While Syria and Iran dominate our agenda, the nearby developments between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the conflict area of Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) have become increasingly worrying. This so-called frozen conflict shows clear signs of unfreezing and has the potential to unleash a much larger scale of warfare, including geo-political tectonic shifts and human suffering. Now, the International Crisis Group (ICG), a key NGO flagging conflict warnings worldwide, has published a new briefing – see also: http://www.crisisgroup.org/~/media/Files/europe/caucasus/b071-armenia-and-azerbaijan-a-season-of-risks.pdf – on this conflict in the South Caucasus. “Terms like ‘Blitzkrieg’, ‘pre-emptive strike’ and ‘total war’ have gained currency with both sides’ planners,” the report’s authors say, though war scenarios are much more dominant in the Azerbaijani public than in Armenia.

Misusing conflict to distract from internal Problems

The report is very timely, and considers potential unrest in both countries. Azerbaijan’s presidential elections are scheduled for this week, and while most observers expect a staged renewal of the Aliyev family’s autocratic rule, it may inspire uprisings. Armenia’s decision to join the Russian-dominated Customs Union may also provoke internal unrest, the ICG assume, and both countries may be tempted to use the NK conflict to distract from their internal problems. Previous elections in Azerbaijan have produced heightened military tensions on the border with Armenia and NK. Yet Armenia’s internal situation with the next elections due in 2017 seems incomparable and large-scale unrest unlikely. Russia’s reinforced strategic partnership with Armenia could even prevent a possible war. These ICG conclusions therefore try too hard to see parallels where actually the situations differ.
They call upon the international community to work with the sides to maintain a “quiet period during which both sides dial down rhetoric”, to avoid accidental war. The report recommends re-establishing a “crisis hotline” in order to lessen chances of a military escalation and an efficient arms embargo regime for the conflict zone. These positive suggestions have been put forward by the expert community from time to time.

No confidence, no peace?

The report’s weakness is the attempt to balance out the unbalanced. For example, the authors criticise Azerbaijan for being the driving force in the arms race, for their regular hate speeches, including those by President Aliyev, and for the extradition of the axe murderer Ramil Safarov from Hungary and his immediate pardon and public glorification in Baku as anti-Armenian hero. The ICG equals all these points to the NK authorities’ intention to re-launch civilian flights between their Stepanakert airport and Yerevan, a project which would reduce transportation times, but not change anything else compared to current road transport. It would have been better to point out this imbalance: Both sides to the conflict clearly could do more for peace, but currently mainly one side publicly works against it. However, the report is a comprehensive resource for all the key facts, even provides its own original sources and it does admit that “since mediation efforts have stalled, Baku has increasingly emphasised a military solution, publicly and privately.”

The authors analyse that “time is neither side’s ally”, and that’s correct. For Azerbaijan, the arms race is based on the country’s massive oil and gas revenues, which analysts say have peaked already. For Armenia and NK, the economic costs of the isolation orchestrated by Turkey and Azerbaijan make it difficult to keep up in this arms race. While these points explain the urgency for action, they do not provide for an artificial balance: Armenia has no incentive to start any military adventure, while Azerbaijan is even creating such incentives for itself, in particular by impeding the Minsk Group mediations. During the years, these mediations have produced a road map for peace already agreed by both sides’ Foreign Ministers, for the summit in Kazan, as well as a list of confidence building measures (CBMs). But in Kazan, President Aliyev renounced the road map negotiated by his Foreign Minister, effectively stalling the deal, and until today Baku refuses all proposed CBMs, demanding that NK must first withdraw from the buffer zone, which is actually one point contained in the road map Aliyev rejected. In this way, Baku torpedoes the Minsk Group process and then complains about its ineffectiveness – all while accelerating its arms acquisitions and declaring that even Armenia’s capital Yerevan is allegedly positioned on “ancient Azeri soil”.

A question of leverage

The urgency of CBMs cannot be underlined enough. The ICG mentions NK’s recent call for cooperation regarding the Sarsang water reservoir, which Baku again turned down. This reservoir could be misused by either side to cause a military escalation, for example through acts of sabotage. Re-establishing the hotline connection and denouncing the propaganda of hate are also vital components to allow for a breakthrough in the peace process. The question will be how the international community, especially the EU, can exercise leverage on the side that so far blocks these CBMs, i.e. Azerbaijan. Waiting for a change of government in Baku may take too long. Azerbaijani lobbyists are currently re-floating an idea in Brussels to condition the EU’s Association Agreements (AA) to progress in the NK conflict resolution, knowing that Azerbaijan does not seek an AA and that Baku would thus receive a veto over Armenia’s relations with the EU. The EU has never concluded any agreement like this, and should refrain from this in the future.

But reformulated, this idea could work. First, it must include ALL sorts of agreements that the EU negotiates with the sides, including the energy partnership that Azerbaijan currently seeks with the EU. Secondly, the country in question needs to be able to fulfil the conditions ALONE, without depending on the other conflict party in its relationship with the EU. For example, the EU could help the establishment of the Minsk Group proposed investigation mechanism for shooting incidents, even deploy observers, and this CBM, accomplishable by each conflict party alone, could be a condition for contractual agreements with the EU.
131011_Michael_Kambeck_EuFoA
Dr. Michael Kambeck is Secretary General of EuFoA – European Friends of Armenia, in Brussels, see also http://www.eufoa.org. He is also the Editor and co-author of the book “Europe’s next avoidable war – Nagorno-Karabakh” (Palgrave, 2013, see e.g. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Europes-Next-Avoidable-War-Nagorno-Karabakh/dp/0230300669/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1381419672&sr=8-1&keywords=europe%27s+next+avoidable+war)

Azerbaijan and Its Political Prisoners

There is now some movement in the Azerbaijani opposition. „Meydan TV“ broadcasts from Berlin via satellite directly to many viewers in the country, the Council of European Azerbaijani has been created some weeks ago, and only on 25th May, 2013, the new coordinating Council has been set up in Azerbaijan itself. There are now working more people for another Azerbaijan than ever, a country which has not yet the standards of Rule of Law as it should be the case in Council of Europe Member States, or in recipient states of EU taxpayers‘ money in the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and in the Eastern Partnership. One thing is very clear: The people behind all this know Europe very well, and they all appreciate that they can move here freely, that they can say and read what they want. This is why they are all in favour of what is not yet achieved by Azerbaijan..namely Euro-Atlantic Integration and a strongly felt step in the direction of the European Union and the Council of Europe. And they are in favour of ending the autocratic system, corruption and a state-run replacement of the Rule of Law.

More than 3000 people from all European countries have signed recently a petition, an appeal, on political prisoners in the country. We publish here this petition, which went to Catherine Ashton, High Representative for Foreign and Secutiy Policy and Vice President of the EU Commission, as well as some relevant staff of the EEAS (European External Action Service) including her cabinet, as well as to around 130  members of the European Parliament – those from the EURONEST Delegation (covering the Eastern Partnership between the EU and the European CIS countries, inclujding Azerbaijan) and from the Delegation for the South Caucasus, not to forget the OSCE, ODIHR and some Council of Europe addressees. We know that this is only the beginning. The people behind this Council want a stronger anchoring in Europe and its institutions, and they want to anchor the country for „the time after“ the present regime. Because  Council of Europe member state, an ENP recipient and a member of the Eastern Partnership can – and must – be viewed and reviewed permanently, and there is no domestic policy any longer when this degree of involvement (and also trade) is achieved.

So, maybe a bit longer as usual, please read here the full text of this Petition. Its importance lies also towards the Council of Erope which has recently rejected a motion of the Rapporteur, Mr. Christoph Strässer, Member of the German Bundestag where he is the Human Rights spokesman for Human Rights of the Social Democratic Party. Mr. Strässer should investigate on behalf of the Council of Europe, but he was refused to enter Azerbaijan. So far a „transparent system“ which should be applicable for this country. And this report clearly was defeated with the massive help of Baku’s „caviar diplomacy“. All this is unique in Europe – and goes perfectly with Belarus‘ Lukashenka or Ukraine’s Yanukovich and his selecive justice towards former ministers and the prime minister of his country.

Hans-Jürgen Zahorka
Chief Editor, European Union Foreign Affairs Journal
www.eufaj.eu
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AAMBS – Avropa Azerbaycanlilari Milli Birlik Shurasi
NUEA – National Union of the European Azerbaijani
 
Avropa Azerbaycanlilari Milli Birlik Shurasi
National Union of the European Azerbaijani
 
Basel / Switzerland, May 17, 2013

Petition of the National Unity Council of European Azerbaijanis to International Organizations concerning political prisoners and political pressure in Azerbaijan

[The remarks in brackets […] are inserted by the editor,]

Very shortly after Azerbaijan gained political independence in the beginning of the 1990’s, Heydar Aliyev – a general of the former soviet State Security Committee [KGB] – seized power by resorting to countless very cunning moves. It is now 20 years that the Aliyevs (Heydar and his son Ilham – each for 10 years) have been ruling Azerbaijan as their own personal company (if we take into account also the soviet period, they are in power since 44 years). Based on the wealth of Azerbaijan in natural resources – which by constitution belongs to the population, not to the rulers – the Aliyev clan established an authoritarian system and managed to create a lobby in the countries considered as the centers of democracy in the world. Thanks to this system, this clan has achieved to strangle the voice of the Azerbaijani people not only inside Azerbaijan, but also abroad, including in the international organizations, which are supposed to be the defenders of social and historical values, such as democracy and human rights.The president of our country is like Don Caroline in the film “Godfather”, and the bodies of state power are his personal organizations. The forms and methods of our president’s activity do not differ in any way from the plots in “Godfather”.As a result, in Azerbaijan the fundamental human liberties – freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of suffrage [voting], freedom of religion and other fundamental rights – are severely being persecuted. Azerbaijan is a “hell” in today’s world, based on authoritarianism. It would be naive to hope for an improvement of anything in this hell. In this sense, declarations of the international organizations about “Azerbaijan moving one step forward or one step back, but in the direction of democracy”, as presented after every election in the last 20 years, are only cheating the public. A hell is just a hell. In this one there is no such idea as one step forward or one step back, slowly towards democracy. The present regime does not allow any event to occur beyond its control, and it allows itself all means for reaching its goals. It establishes criminal gangs for deceiving the international public, and then pretends to arrest them. It also arranges terror, coups d’état, hotbeds of separatism, and pretends to expose them. It puts different regions and peoples against one another for keeping the population under fear. Mass persecutions and telephone interception are everyday events. Facts about interference into personal lives, such as putting up candid cameras in bedrooms, are evident. Bodies of state power do not deal with their official responsibility, they are mobilized for maintaining this regime with all their resources. People live in constant fear; the activity of the real opposition has been brought to an unbearable condition. Nevertheless, thousands of people can sacrifice their welfare, health, and sometimes their own lives for democratic principles and human rights, even in such a situation.

The broadest prosecution method in Aliyevs’ Azerbaijan is to test people by depriving them of making their bread. There is a system of the Aliyevs, named “employment card” like the Bolsheviks’ “bread cards”, which were made for being distributed only to their own people. The people who act against authoritarianism are, first of all, limited in what they can do for a living. Such protestors, and their family members and relatives, are immediately dismissed and become jobless. Their financial resources are confiscated or otherwise taken under control. There is only one path left for such people: to emigrate from the country. Those who do not leave the country and continue protesting, are imprisoned. In Azerbaijan the jails are full of such prisoners. Today there is an army of prisoners, consisting of journalists, demonstration participants, election and religious prisoners etc., arrested in accordance with laws that are applicable at will. The report issued by Mr. Strässer MP, the Deputy of Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe for the January 2013 session of this Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, related to political prisoners, stated the names of 85 political prisoners. As an effect of the abovementioned lobbyism and the activity of Ilham Aliyevs’ regime, which is also admitted by theParliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and temporarily called “Caviar Diplomacy”, the report was not approved and this caused a great happiness of authoritarian regime officials. This, at the same time, created opportunities for the authoritarian forces in Azerbaijan in the direction of strangling human rights. In a very short period of time (within the last 3 months) the list of political prisoners has been increased considerably. Their number is increasing fast due to participants of Guba and Ismayilli events, Bine trade rebels, members of the youth organization“Nidacilar”, and so on. Some of the social-political activists who were imprisoned and persecuted during the last 3 months are well-known not only in Azerbaijan, but also abroad. It is worthwhile to mention the names of some of them, as follows:

1) Elnur Seyidov, who was detained by officers of the National Security Ministry (NSM) of the Azerbaijan Republic, worked as a deputy head of the region branch “Tekhnica bank”. At the same time, he is a close relative of Ali Kerimli, from one of the country’s popular opposition parties,the Azerbaijan Nation Front Party. On March 29, 2012, investigation by the Ministry of NationalSecurity of the Azerbaijan Republic charged Elnur Seyidov with 178.3.1, 178.3.2 of the Criminal Code (fraud by an organized group involving seizure of a large quantity of another’s property). On the same day, the court made a decision to arrest Elnur for 3 months.Then, the detention period was extended three times, up to one year. However, the period of detention of the accused in criminal cases, in this category, as a rule cannot be more than 9 months, and – according to the requirements of the law – only if there is a criminal investigation. In exceptional cases, this period could be extended up to 12 months. An exceptional case must  exhibit a duty of investigation and judicial authority. E. Seyidov‘s case does not reflect this exception. There was no investigation, and judicial authority was absent. Thus, the court illegally extended the detention without preliminary evidence. Additionally, the National legislation and International conventions requires that the verdict reflect preliminary evidence. The court’s decision did not reflect the preliminary evidence needed for a criminal act. Two times documents were sent concerning E. Seyidov’s case via the post-office of theEuropean Court for Human Rights, but were removed by the special service bodies of the country in an attempt of preventing the case to be examined at this international court, for confirming violations of law committed against E. Seyidov.

2) Ilgar Mammadov. He is the chairman of the Republican Alternative Movement (ReAL) organization. The organization has put forward his candidacy for the presidential elections to take place this year. Ilgar Mammadov was arrested illegally during the activities that occurred on 23-24 January [2013], by being accused of violating public order and instigating citizens to be rebels. A while ago he was severely submitted to threats of parliamentary deputies, since he compared the parliament with a “zoo” based on video material that shows how mandates are “traded” in the Parliament of the Republic (National Assembly). Human rights organizations and ReAL consider his imprisonment as the result of a political command.

3) Tofig Yagublu. He is a deputy chairman of Musavat [party], an author of the newspaper “Yeni Musavat”. The Musavat party is one of the leading opposition parties of the country and acts against the existing authoritarian regime from an uncompromising position. Tofig Yagublu was also imprisoned illegally during the actions on 23-24 January [2013] in Ismayilli for violation of public order and instigating citizens to riots. A while ago Tofiq Yaqublu’s daughter Nigar Yaqublu was subjected to an inadequate punishment for her father’s activity, and she was released only after her father was arrested. Human rights organizations and the Musavat Party consider his imprisonment as the result of a political command.

4) Rashad Hassanov. He is a member of the “Nida” Youth organization. Rashad Hassanov has been imprisoned illegally by being accused of keeping an illegal firearm in an organized way. A while ago before his arrest, on 9 March, three activists of “Nida” – Shahin Novruzlu, Bakhtiyar Guliyev and Mahammad Azizov – were imprisoned illegally with the accusation of  possessing narcotics and explosive substances for 3 months as per the court decision. They were arrested one day before the action that took place on 10 March as a protest against deaths of soldiers in non-fighting circumstances. “Nida” has declared that the arrests of civil movement members are political commands.

5) Rustam Ibrahimbeyov. He is a scenarist, film director, and a playwright. He is also the Azerbaijan national writer, Honoured Art worker of both Azerbaijan and Russia, the chief of Azerbaijan Cinematographers’ Union, and an Oscar prize-winner. It is already several years that Rustam Ibrahimbeyov has been criticizing – as one of the most famous intellectuals of Azerbaijan – the policy of the current government and the activities of the high officials; his criticism has deepened and increased recently. Just because of the increasing criticism and especially his point-of-view related to the forthcoming presidential elections, aggressions against him and the civil society around him were expanded. After repeated inspections conducted in the office of the Cinematographers’ Union on 20 November 2012, the primary investigation department of tax evasion of the Ministry of Taxes opened a criminal case as per Article 213.1 of the Criminal Code on 27 December 2012 – although there is no true evidence. Lala Efendiyeva, a member of Azerbaijan Cinematographers’ Union, who was an accredited representative in conducting the Baku International Film Festival “East-West” (“Sherg-Gerb”) in 2009, has been accused in accordance with Article 179.3.2 of the Criminal Code. On 18 January, 10 officials from the department of Primary Investigation of Tax Evasions conducted a search in the Cinematographers’ Union office and collected documents, copies of which had already been provided to the Ministry of Taxes. On 23 January, the Union was thrown out of its office located in the government house by the representatives of Baku City Executive Authority, without showing any official document and submittal of any notification in this respect.

During Rustam Ibrahimbeyov’s arrival from Moscow to Baku on 30 December 2012, his diplomatic passport and foreign passport were taken by the passport control officers in the airport under the pretext of inspection. In more than two hours after Ibrahimbeyov was allowed to pass the border, he was notified that, since he did not respect the Supreme Commander-in-Chief [the president Ilham Aliev], they did not have respect for him either. On 21 January 2013, when Ibrahimbeyov was leaving Baku, he faced again such problems in the airport. He was told at the frontier post that he had to wait due to a technical problem, and he was allowed to leave the post only half an hour before take-off. Besides, denigrating actions have been launched against Rustam Ibrahimbeyov in most of Azerbaijan TV channels and newspapers, under the supervision of Ali Hassanov, the chief of the social and political relations department of the President’s Executive body. Rustam Ibrahimbeyov has been blamed during the last weeks for various misappropriations, mentioning names of places, offices and companies that are claimed to be his, without any substantiation or proof.

There are reports about pressure and threats on the members of the Cinematographers’ Union. At the moment, Rustam Ibrahimbeyov is abroad and any return to his native land may result in his imprisonment. According to official reports, 10 people for the action in “Bine”Trade Center (on 19 January), 12 people for Ismayilli events (23 January) were arrested and condemned. And there are lots of official prisoners too. Currently, two chief editors have been imprisoned by means of false accusations: EvezZeynally (“Khurat” newspaper) and Hilal Mammadov (“Tolishi Seda” newspaper), as well as Movsum Samadov, the chairman of Azerbaijan Islam Party, and many of functionaries of the same party (Ruhulla Akhundov, Firdovsi Mammadrzayev, Deyanet Samedov, etc.), and two ex-ministers (Farhad Aliyev and Ali Insanov). Based on these recent experiences, it can be ascertained that the authoritarian regime has a preference for calumniation (e.g. by secretly putting narcotics into pockets, placing arms in apartments and personal vehicles, using false witnesses / perjurers, counterfeiting corruption and   tax evasions, blaming for hooliganism, etc.) for dealing with the people whom it dislikes orconsiders undesirable. By using these methods, the inhuman and illegal procedures are made to look very civilized. We do not accept these and the addition of more and new ways and forms of denigration and calumniation, moreover for maintaining an inhuman situation – which are currently escalating due to the approach of the presidential elections.Taking into consideration the above, we would like to prompt the appropriate structures of the Council of Europe, the European Union, the NATO, and the UNO, not to abandon their principles on human rights and democratic values in their attitudes towards Azerbaijan, and to call all the international human rights organizations for giving more attention to the problem of political prisoners in Azerbaijan as a symptom of a much deeper problem, and to accomplish their freedom as soon as possible.

Sincerely yours,

Rzayev Gabil – President, National Union of the European Azerbaijani, Abilov Atakhan (Netherlands) – Chairman of the Executive Council,
Abdullayev Elshad (France) – Vice President, National Union of the European Azerbaijani, Abbasov Nadir (Switzerland) – Member of the Executive Council, Abbasova Mina (Switzerland) – Member of the Executive Council, Abdullayev Umid (Ukraine) – Member of the Executive Council,  Alibayli Elkhan (Netherlands) – Member of the Auditing Agency, Aliev Mehman (Switzerland) – Member of the Executive Council, Alirzayev İlkin (Netherlands) – Member of the Executive Council, Aliyev Bahruz (Netherlands) – Member, Amiraslanova Yegane (Germany) – Member, Bunyatov Yalchin (Ukraine) – Member, Calabi Huseyn (Switzerland) – Member of the Executive Council, Can Ansar (Switzerland) – Member of the Executive Council, Damirov Ehtiram (Germany) – Member of the Executive Council, Feyzullazade Afag (Switzerland) – Member of the Executive Council, Feyzullazade Coshgun (Switzerland) – Member, Garashova Ulviyye (Switzerland) – Member of the Executive Council, Guduyevİlgar (Germany) – Member of the Executive Council, Guliyev Adalet (Belgium) – Member, Guliyev Sabir (Sweden) – Member, Gurbanov Reshad (Switzerland) – Member, Gurbanova Nargile (Switzerland) – Member of the Executive Council, Hacili Ali (Netherlands) – Member, Huseynov Galib (Russia) – Member, İsmayilova Kemale (Switzerland) – Member, Koca Yusif (Switzerland) – Member of the Executive Council, Latifov Surkhan (Switzerland) – Chairman of the Auditing Agency, former President of the European Movement of Azerbaijan, Maharramov Elchin (Germany) – Member of the Executive Council, Mecidli Elnur (France) – Member, Mecidoglu Telman (Netherlands) – Member, Mehraliyev Gehreman (Russia) – Member of the Executive Council, Nuriyev Elkhan (Ukraine) – Member of the Executive Council, Pashayev Musallim (Germany) – Member of the Executive Council, Polat Seyfetdin (Switzerland) – Member, Rizvanov Sarvan (Germany) – Member of the Executive Council, Saftarov Hasan (Canada) – Member, Schaerer Alec (Switzerland) – Member of the Auditing Agency, Operative Advisor, Tagiyeva Sevan (Switzerland) – Member of the Executive Council, Tagıyev Huseyn (Switzerland) – Member of the Executive Council, Yavuz Nahid (Switzerland) – Member of the Executive Council, Zeynalov Adalet (Russia) – Member of the Executive Council, Zeynalov Sadiyar (Luxemburg) – Member.
 
Total: 3034 signatures, of which 43 are shown here
 
Phone: + 41 79 4043444

Fax: + 41 61 3356049
E-mail: info@aambs.org

Website: http://www.aambs.org

6.4.2013: Gründung des „Rates der europäischen Aserbaidschaner“ – Eine neue Epoche beginnt für die regierungskritischen Kräfte

Am 6. April 2013 wurde in Basel, unter der Führung der international tätigen Haqq & Adalet Association und der West-East Dialogue Academia, und unter der Beteiligung zahlreicher hochstehender Persönlichkeiten der aserbaidschanischen Diaspora in Europa die Gründungskonferenz des Rates der europäischen Aserbaidschaner durchgeführt. Sein Ziel ist die Einigung der verschiedenen regierungskritischen Kräfte in Aserbaidschan. Die Konferenz wurde unter der Teilnahme von 85 Delegierten aus 7 europäischen Ländern abgehalten. Zudem beteiligten sich weitere wichtige Personen der Diaspora aus Russland, Kanada, der Ukraine und der Türkei durch Live-Zuschaltungen über Skype.

Die Eröffnungsrede wurde von Coshgun Feyzullazade gehalten, als Präsident der West-East Dialogue Academia. Er erklärte, dass im ersten Teil der Konferenz die aktuelle Situation in Aserbaidschan diskutiert werden soll. Coshgun Feyzullazade betonte die Unausweichlichkeit des Wandels und unterstrich, dass dieser Prozess durch soziale und gewaltfreie Methoden erreicht werden müsse.

Feyzullazade, der diesen Teil der Konferenz moderierte, las die zahlreichen Gratulationsschreiben vor, die von der aserbaidschanischen Opposition aus Baku gesendet wurden. Zu den Gratulanten gehörte unter anderem der Führer der Partei der aserbaidschanischen Volksfront, Ali Kerimli. Prof. Lale Sevket Haciyeva, die Präsidentin der Partei der aserbaidschanischen Liberalen, richtete Ihre Unterstützung und die guten Wünsche per Live-Telefonschaltung aus. Zudem wurden Gratulations-E-Mails vorgelesen von SP-Nationalrat Andreas Gross, von der Sozialdemokratischen Partei (SP), den Grünen, vom Basler Regierungspräsidenten Guy Morin, von Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, AugenAuf, und von Hans-Jürgen Zahorka, Chefredaktor von „European Union Foreign Affairs Journal“.

Anschliessend sprach Gabil Rzayev, Präsident der internationalen Haqq & Adalet Association. Er sagte, dass Haydar Aliyev, der 1969 an die Macht kam, durch seine Politik das Selbstvertrauen des aserbaidschanischen Volkes zunichte gemacht hat. Weiter verwies Rzayev auf den Militärputsch von 1993 durch H. Aliyev, der damals die Weichen für seine Diktatur setzte. Ilham Aliyev, der wie üblich in Diktaturen das Land von seinem Vater geerbt hatte, beutete das Land schamlos aus und festigte die despotische Stellung der Aliyev-Familie. Rzayev unterstrich, dass der Weltgemeinschaft klar gemacht werden müsse, dass Ilham Aliyev ein skrupelloser Diktator ist.

Danach ergriff Prof. Elshad Abdullayev das Wort, ehemaliger Rektor der International University of Aserbaidschan. Abdullayev verwies auf die Art und Weise der Behandlung des Volkes durch die Regierung. Er verglich das Regime mit Besatzungskräften, die gegen das Volk ohne Skrupel vorgehen. Zudem verwies er auf seine persönliche Situation und unterstrich, dass er nicht freiwillig nach Europa kam, sondern von der Regierung unter Druck gestellt wurde. Abdullayev sagte, dass das eigentliche Ziel der Regierung seine Tötung in Europa durch aserbaidschanische Agenten ist.

Atakhan Abilov, Experte auf dem Gebiet des internationalen Rechts, deutete auf die undemokratische Situation in Aserbaidschan hin. Abilov unterstrich wie seine Vorredner, dass das Regime in Aserbaidschan eine Diktatur sei. Zudem sprach Abilov über die Situation in Karabagh. Er sagte, dass gemäss internationalem Recht die Gründung eines zweiten armenischen Staates auf diesem Gebiet nicht möglich sei.

Danach kam der Politologe Surkhan Latifov zu Wort. Er stellte vier Faktoren fest, welche die politischen Prozesse in Aserbaidschan beeinflussen:

1)      Sozioökonomische Faktoren

2)      Die Beziehung zwischen dem Regime und der Opposition

3)      Der Konflikt um Karabagh

4)      Die internationale Situation

Latifov verwies auf die Festnahmen just vor der geplanten Demonstrationen vom 10.März und unterstrich die Intoleranz und Unterdrückung von Oppositionellen durch das Regime. Latifov sagte, dass er trotzdem die Hoffnung habe, dass das Volk in naher Zukunft zum Akteur in der Politik werden könne. Schliesslich unterstrich S. Latifov, dass die Vereinigung der Opposition für eine Demokratisierung in Aserbaidschan unausweichlich sei.

Elnur Mecidli verglich die Situation in Aserbaidschan mit denen in anderen Ländern. Er betonte, dass gemäss der Verfassung Ilham Aliyev in den kommenden Präsidentschaftswahlen eigentlich nicht mehr kandidieren dürfe.

Auch Reshad Gurbanov schloss sich seinen Vordernern an in Bezug auf die diktatorische Regierungsweise des Regimes. Die Ressourcen des Landes seien alle in den Händen des Aliyev-Clans, betonte Qurbanov. Weitere Ansprachen wurden auf dieser Gründungskonferenz von Prof. Canmirze Mirzeyev, Dr. Alec Schaerer, Telman Kazimov, Metin Sahin und Ferhat Akhundov gehalten.

Den zweiten Teil der Konferenz moderierte Surkhan Latifov. Zuerst wurde der Rat der europäischen Aserbaidschaner gegründet. Gabil Rzayev wurde zum Präsidenten des Rats gewählt. Danach ging man zur Wahl der Mitglieder des Rates über. Atakhan Abilov wurde zum Ratssprecher gewählt. Als nächstes wurden die Mitglieder der Revisionsstelle gewählt. Surkhan Latifov wurde zum Präsidenten der Revisionsstelle gewählt, und Elshad Abdullayev wurde zum ersten Vizepräsidenten des Rates erkoren.

 

Azerbaijan’s Haqq-Adalet zur Überstellung von Ramil Sararov Ungarn – Azerbaijan

Die azerbaijanische Oppositionsformierung Haqq-Adalet (siehe auch unser Blog vom 24.10.2012, bzw. www.haqq-adalet.com) hat in einer hochinteressanten Weise und schon am 11.9.2012 auf die Cause Ramil Safarov reagiert. Wir wollen diese Stellungnahme, die uns in Deutsch vorliegt, weiter verbreiten – sie ist hochinteressant, auch wenn nicht jeder allem zustimmen muss. Das Statement wurde im September 2012 an die Tagespresse in der Schweiz gegeben, verdient aber weitere Verbreitung. Erklärende Anmerkungen sind hier in eckige Klammern gesetzt.

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 Basel, 11. September 2012                                            An die Tagespresse

 Grosse Schachzüge mit kleinen Figuren

Begnadigungen pflegen keine massiven Proteste auszulösen. Kürzlich hat eine solche aber im südlichen Kaukasus zu grossen Spannungen geführt. Ilham Aliyev, der Präsident von Aserbaidschan, hat am 31. August 2012 die Begnadigung eines Ramil Safarov unterzeichnet. Er ist ein aserbaidschanischer Offizier, der in Ungarn wegen der Ermordung eines armenischen Offiziers im Jahre 2004 eine lebenslange Haftstrafe absitzen sollte, aber kürzlich an Aserbaidschan ausgeliefert wurde. Armenien hat darauf sehr stark reagiert: der armenische Präsident Sargsyan hat sofort eine ausserordentliche Ministerratssitzung einberufen, in welcher beschlossen wurde, die diplomatischen Beziehungen mit Ungarn abzubrechen. Russland, die Vereinigten Staaten und die Europäische Union haben eine Deklaration veröffentlicht und verlangen eine Erklärung von Aserbaidschan für diese Begnadigung.

Aber um was geht es im Einzelnen, dass grosse Staaten und Organisationen auf diese Situation so hart reagierten? Und was für Interessen stehen dahinter?

Während eines NATO-Seminars in Ungarn entstand ein Streit zwischen dem aserbaidschanischen und einem armenischen Offizier, Gurgen Margaryani, auf dem Hintergrund des jahrzehntealten Konflikts um die nationale Zugehörigkeit von Bergkarabach [Anmerkung: Nagorno-Karabakh]. Da hat der aserbaidschanische Leutnant am 19. Februer 2004 in der Nacht den armenischen Leutnant umgebracht. Vom obersten Gericht in Budapest wurde er am 13. April 2006 für diese Straftat zu lebenslanger Haft verurteilt. Seit jener Zeit ist Safarov in Aserbaidschan als „Nationalheld“ und in Armenien als „Mörder“ sehr bekannt.

Als Safarov am 31. August [2012] in Aserbeidschan eintraf, wurde er schon im Flughafen von Beamten des aserbaidschanischen Justizministeriums empfangen, und es wurde ihm der präsidentiale Entscheid seiner Begnadigung vorgelesen. Das Verteidigungsministerium beförderte ihn gleich zum Major und setzte ihn an einen verantwortungsvollen Posten; dazu schenkte man ihm gleich noch ein Haus.

Der Konflikt um Bergkarabach hat eine alte Geschichte. Nach der Oktoberrevolution von 1917 erhoben sowohl Armenier wie Aserbaidschaner, je als autonome demokratische Republik organisiert, Anspruch auf Bergkarabach. Als der Staatenbund zerfiel, annektierte die Sowjetunion beide Staaten und das ZK [Zentralkomittee] der KP [Kommunistische Partei] entschied im Juli 1921, dass Bergkarabach ab 1923 ein autonomes Gebiet in der aserbaidschanischen SSR sei. Dann war es ruhig bis in die 1960er Jahre, als vereinzelt neue Unruhen auftraten. Zu jener Zeit lebten in Bergkarabach etwa 200’000 Armenier und 100’000 Aserbaidschaner. Der Konflikt entbrannte 1988 durch nationalistische armenische Ansprüche auf politische Unabhängigkeit als souveräner Staat, der also nicht zu Aserbaidschan gehört, aber auch nicht direkt zu Armenien. Im Februar 1988 kam es zu anti-armenischen Pogromen und die Streitigkeiten mündeten beidseitig in Ausweisungen der jeweiligen Minderheit. Der Konflikt konnte nicht beendet werden durch die sowjetische Führung, die damals schon schwach war. Nach 1991 waren Armenien und Aserbaidschan unabhängig und begannen ihre Armeen zu organisieren. Im Frühjahr 1992 attackierten armenische Einheiten, unterstützt von russischen, den Westen von Aserbaidschan in Provinzen, die offiziell nicht zu Bergkarabach gehörten. Es folgen erfolgreiche militärische Operationen der aserbaidschanischen Armee bis Juni 1993, in denen die verlorenen Gebiete zurückgewonnen wurden. Im Juni erfolgte der Putsch, in welchem Heydar Aliyev [der Vater des derzeitigen Staatspräsidenten] die Macht ergriff. Er löste 36 regierungstreue Bataillone auf. Armenien nütze diese Schwäche aus und bis Oktober 1993 verlor Aserbaidschan seine Provinzen und dazu sechs weitere, die nicht zu Bergkarabach gehörten. Im Dezember 1993 attackierte Aliyev wieder, aber ohne nennenswerte Ergebnisse bis Mai 1994, als in Bischkek ein Friedensabkommen unterzeichnet wurde, das formell bis heute gilt. Sechs Provinzen stehen noch immer unter armenischer Besetzung. Ramil Safarov kommt aus einer solchen Provinz.

Die endgültige Lösung des Konflikts wurde von der Minsker OSZE-Gruppe übernommen. Angeführt wird sie von den Vereinigten Staaten, Russland und Frankreich. Als sich die Mitglieder der Minsk-Gruppe am 2. September [2012] in Paris mit Ausserminister Nalbandian von Armenien und am 3. September mit Ausserminister Mammadov von Aserbaidschan trafen, bezeichneten sie das Verhalten von Präsident Ilham Aliyev als „Rechtfertigung für Mörder“. Das ungarische Ministerium für Auswärtige Angelegenheiten hat in Aserbaidschan eine Protestnote eingereicht.

Zu ihrer Verteidigung im Skandal sagt die Regierung in Budapest, dass der Gefangene Safarov gemäss dem Übereinkommen des Europarates über die Überstellung verurteilter Personen vom 21. März 1983 nach Aserbaidschan ausgeliefert worden ist. In der Protestnote wird betont, dass die aserbaidschanische Seite die Verantwortung übernommen hatte, Safarov frühestens in 25 Jahren freizulassen.

Allerdings ist Ungarn beschuldigt worden, zu einem Abkommen über 3 Milliarden Euro – als Verkauf von Staatsanleihen von Ungarn an Aserbaidschan – eingewilligt zu haben, Safarov an Aserbaidschan auszuliefern. Zwar leugnete der stellvertretende ungarische Ministerpräsident Borbeli einen Zusammenhang zwischen der Auslieferung und dem Verkauf der Staatsanleihen. Der aserbaidschanische Aussenminister Mammadov gab zu, dass mit den ungarischen Behörden seit einem Jahr Geheimverhandlungen über die Auslieferung geführt wurden, leugnet aber ebenfalls einen Zusammenhang zwischen den Staatsanleihen und der Affäre Safarov.

Man kann sich fragen, welche Faktoren die aserbaidschanische Seite dazu drängte, solche Schritte zu vollziehen und weiter, was die Situation im grösseren Zusammenhang bedeutet. Auf jeden Fall hat sie einen grossen Einfluss auf die künftigen Verhandlungen zwischen Armenien und Aserbaidschan. Das Ereignis hat die Position von Aserbaidschan bei Friedensgesprächen nach aussen insofern geschwächt, als seine Glaubwürdigkeit einmal mehr fraglich wurde. Die soziale und politische Stabilisierung des südlichen Kaukasus ist damit noch ein wenig problematischer geworden. Im Zusammenspiel zwischen Staaten sollte aber die Rolle der inneren Verhältnisse nicht vergessen werden.

Nach einigen Theorien geht es in Aserbaidschan um die nächsten Präsidentschaftswahlen im Jahr 2013 und somit um die Volksgunst. Aber soziopolitisch genau betrachtet ist diese Auffassung nicht haltbar, denn bisher wurden alle Ergebnisse der Präsidentschaftswahlen zugunsten des Präsidenten Ilham Aliyev gefälscht. Die öffentliche Meinung spielt für ihn eigentlich keine Rolle.

Eine andere Erklärung der Begnadigung ist eine Sympathie zum „Nationalhelden“ Safarov. Aber seit Safarov 2004 verhaftet wurde, ergriff die aserbaidschanische Regierung keinerlei Massnahme für seine rechtliche Unterstützung und stellte nie einen Anwalt. Während er in Ungarn im Gefängnis war, lebte seine Familie – Flüchtlinge aus Bergkarabach – in Baku in Armut. Als Safarovs Mutter 2009 starb, kam niemand von der Regierung zu ihrer Beerdigung. Diese Umstände beweisen, dass die Auslieferung  und Begnadigung von Safarov keineswegs aus der Huldigung eines Helden oder gar aus Nächstenliebe erfolgte.

Aus einer umfassenderen Perspektive können diese Prozesse als den Beginn einer neuen Etappe im Konflikt um Bergkarabach betrachtet werden.

Mit der Begnadigung von Safarov hat Aliyev für weitere Verhandlungen in diesem Konflikt eine öffentliche Unterstützung erhalten. Einerseits ist Aliyev ein Despot, aber andererseits weiss er, dass Bergkarabach ein nationales Problem ist und er deshalb nicht nur willkürlich vorgehen darf, sondern vorsichtig sein muss. Durch die Sympathie des Volkes bekommt er zugleich in Entscheidungen um Bergkarabach eine gewisse Bewegungsfreiheit im Land. Die Begnadigung von Safarov wird als politisches Mittel dafür verwendet. Wie könnte aber in Wirklichkeit die aserbaidschanische Regierung eine Lebenssicherheit für Karabach-Armenien anbieten, wenn bereits in Aserbaidschan ein Despotismus herrscht und andauernd Menschenrechtsverletzungen vorkommen?

Ein weiteres Phänomen, welches Beachtung verdient, ist die armenische Diplomatie in diesem Zeitraum. Die armenischen Behörden wussten schon lange um die bevorstehende Auslieferung von Safarov, blieben aber äusserlich passiv – wobei unklar bleibt, was auf der diplomatischen Ebene hinter den Kulissen geschah. Die russische Webseite mail.ru veröffentlichte Anfangs August 2012 Informationen über die Auslieferung von Safarov. Zugleich hat der Vizepräsident der armenischen Diaspora in Ungarn, N. Hakobian, am 20. August [2012] in Bezug auf die Auslieferung sowohl das armenische Aussenministerium wie auch das Diaspora-Ministerium in Armenien und die armenische Botschaft in Oesterreich informiert. Es ist erstaunlich, dass die armenischen Behörden und Diaspora in einem so heiklen Thema bis zum Zeitpunkt der Auslieferung tatenlos blieben – und dann höchst demonstrativ protestierten, mit zunehmend zustimmendem internationalem Widerhall.

Der Gesamtzusammenhang deutet darauf hin, dass wichtige Dinge hinter den Kulissen vereinbart worden sind und weiter, dass die Auslieferung eine wichtige Rolle für das künftige Schicksal von Bergkarabach spielen könnte – von der volksnahen Seite als Symbolfigur, und von der regierungsnahen Seite als politisches Pfand. Einerseits kann durch diese Auslieferung Aliyev innerstaatlich in seinem Volk die latente Unruhe momentan bändigen und innenpolitisch darauf pochen, für jeden Aserbaidschaner einzustehen, auch wenn andere Staaten das nicht gut finden. Andererseits kann im weiteren Umfeld auch die internationale Gemeinschaft der wirtschaftlichen Interessen durch die Auslieferung und Begnadigung auf die Weiterführung einer relativen Stabilität hoffen. Denn sie braucht sich nicht zu kümmern um die Klagen von Aliyev, dass die ganze Welt hinter Armenien und gegen Aserbeidschan steht, aber daran sei nicht er schuld, er habe den Offizier gerettet und sollte also vom Volk für die schwierige Situation nicht bestraft werden. In dieser Patt-Situation kann nach wie vor das Erdöl ungehindert fliessen, selbst wenn Aserbeidschan auf Bergkarabach je länger je mehr verzichtet, was bisher nie friedlich denkbar gewesen war. Die Ereignisse um Safarov haben wohl viel mehr mit Bergkarabach zu tun und mit der Stärkung der Popularität und Macht von Aliyev, als mit der Person Safarov so wie die offiziellen Deklarationen lauten. Er ist nur eine kleine Figur in diesem grossen Spiel.

Haqq & Adalet (Recht & Gerechtigkeit) – Presseabteilung

Gabil Rzayev                             Alec Schaerer

(H&A Präsident)                       (Operativer Berater)