Strasbourg, 24.06.2014 – President Ilham Aliyev in his address to the Assembly told delegates that his country wants to create a better world for everyone to live in dignity and peace. Azerbaijan assumed the six-month Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in May 2014. President Aliyev, is a former member of the Assembly.
Following the break-up of the former Soviet Union, Azerbaijan suffered social unrest, economic turmoil, military defeat, loss of territory and even a civil war in 1993. However, the country has enjoyed rapid economic transformation and development in recent years and, according to the President, has become a bridge for intercultural and inter-religious dialogue in the region.
President Aliyev said that Azerbaijan is prioritising implementation of reforms with a view to modernising the country and making progress sustainable, giving particular importance to fighting corruption and promoting education. Membership of the Council of Europe was a conscious choice in 2001, and Azerbaijan is ready and willing to implement its commitments and obligations.
In response to a question, President Aliyev declared that there are no political prisoners in Azerbaijan. He said that such accusations were based on false information, motivated by specific geo-political interests aiming to undermine Azerbaijan’s credibility with the international community.
President Aliyev underlined Azerbaijan’s commitment to the norms and principles of international law and said that the country’s chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers was an opportunity both to contribute to common values of democracy and fundamental freedoms and to work to remove double standards.
In response to a further question, President Aliyev reacted positively to a proposal to organise, with the assistance of PACE, a round table with those critical to his positive assessment of human rights in his country.
Video of the speech
Azerbaijan and the Council of Europe