Koray Targay: “In the future, the actions will be allowed in places close to center, the government officials also give such ideas” – INTERVIEW

Koray Targay: “In the future, the actions will be allowed in places close to center, the government officials also give such ideas” – <font color=red>INTERVIEW </font>
# 23 April 2012 11:36 (UTC +04:00)
Baku. Viktoria Dementyeva, Rashad Suleymanov – APA. APA’s interview with Head of OSCE Office in Baku, Ambassador Koray Targay

- Mr. Ambassador, Azerbaijan is marking the 20th anniversary of its OSCE membership. How do you evaluate the current level of the relations between Azerbaijan and OSCE? What has Azerbaijan achieved as a member of OSCE and how is it fulfilling OSCE commitments?

- Azerbaijan has been a member of the OSCE for 20 years and I can say that Azerbaijan has achieved much. Of course, there exist some commitments within the framework of the documents signed upon admission to OSCE. The major issues cover the fundamentals of democracy, human rights such as freedom of speech, freedom of assembly. As I have mentioned, achievements have been gained. But Azerbaijan should do more. It does not mean that Azerbaijan has acted slowly or unwillingly. Of course, everybody does his best for the development of Azerbaijan. It should be noted that the people, who lived within one regime for 70 years, can not be changed within a night. The way of thinking should be changed. This process was formed in the Western countries with great difficulties within 200 years. Taking all this into account, we can say that Azerbaijan has achieved much. The development will continue. A question may arise. Can Azerbaijan do it without the participation of OSCE? Of course, it can. OSCE is simply offering assistance, it is assisting Azerbaijan in shortening this way. As we see, Azerbaijan has achieved much in economic sphere. The development in the spheres of democratization, rule of law may be insufficient. But thinking this one must take into account the situation 20 years, 70 years ago.

- OSCE Office in Baku is realizing projects in various spheres in Azerbaijan. What spheres do this year’s projects cover?

-The law on “Prevention of domestic violence”, law on “Establishment of National Preventive Mechanism” have been adopted in Azerbaijan with the support of OSCE. The OSCE Office in Baku has brought the practice of the Western countries, invited specialists and supported realization of the projects. We have supported the draft law on the rights of the suspects, defendants. We have also implemented the community policing project. Totally, we implement 80-90 projects every year.

- In 2012 OSCE Office in Baku held trainings for the police on public gatherings and political campaigning. Can we say that this sphere is the priority within OSCE’s activity in Azerbaijan?

- Very good results were achieved in the sphere that you mentioned. The work has been carried out over the last decade in the various countries. The period of authoritarian police is finishing in the world. We will reach more achievements by strengthening community-police relations. One of the components of our project is to increase the number of women police staff. We think that it will offer additional opportunities to the police, because women officers treat women and children better and could better direct children to the right way, prevent their involvement in drugs. Besides, we observe both local and main elections in Azerbaijan through the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and share our recommendation with the government. At the same time we conduct monitoring in the courts. We visit penitentiaries and see the conditions there. We discuss the problems, shortcomings observed during monitoring with the corresponding ministries. Our aim is not to press the government, but to share our opinions with the corresponding organizations, to determine what we can do for elimination of the problems. We work to help Azerbaijan. We have a project on police behavior in the public events. As it is known, the unpleasant cases can occur when people assemble. It can cause damage if there is a probability of provocation. The rules of managing demonstrations, especially opposition rallies are explained to police within the project. The specialists we invited from developed countries organize trainings on this topic for police officers. German police officers have already arrived in Azerbaijan at our invitation. We organized trainings for 8,000 of about 25,000 police officers in Azerbaijan.

- Were these trainings effective?

- Sure. We observed it during the last demonstrations. No incident occurred in the last rallies. Both demonstrators and police officers observed these rules. In general, the trainings produce results.

- What can you say about results of monitoring held in the temporary detention facilities?

- I can say that the conditions in the temporary detention facilities have been improved in comparison with the previous years. I have visited recently Mingachevir and Sheki and became familiar with conditions there. Some of the buildings are old, but the government does best and improves conditions. The observations show that there are some lawyer problems, because there is a little contingent of lawyers in the country. There are two lawyers in Sheki, which has 190,000population, three in Ganja, three in Mingachevir and 27 in Sumgayit. There are 633 judges in the country. It is not a government’s fault. The government is working to eliminate the problems inherited from former regime. According to reports given to us, new court buildings, correctional facilities are being opened in the region. Our experts say the conditions meet average standards in Europe. The new buildings have good conditions, but Soviet-period detention facilities are not good. By the way, I would like to note that the question is not only to construct new building, but those who ensure the laws there, i.e observance of rules by prison wardens. The conduct of workers in this sphere improved as a result of trainings, there are serious developments.

- Are there the facts of torture?

- Torture against prisoners was banned in Azerbaijan, but in practice, such cases occur like in other countries. It occurs when prisoner resists, refuses to obey. This is not shameful. It exists in every country. Simply such cases should be identified and eliminated. Of course, I am not a government representative, but one needs to say what happens. Unpleasant cases should be eliminated and we assist the government in this field.

Main problems in Azerbaijan are the violation of territorial integrity and security. Azerbaijan has become one of the world’s oil centers in the past 150 years. Oil and gas pipelines pass through the country. It is in the focus of world’s attention. All of these create security challenges. It should also be taken into consideration.

- Does the Law on Political Parties meet OSCE standards?

- Last amendments to the Law on Political Parties are step forward toward democracy. There is no principal problem, but of course, it could be better. We positively value this law. There was a controversial issue – number of signatures required for establishment of party. It was removed. Opposition parties were against this issue. Now we need to see its implementation. In general, the amendments meet Venice Commission’s demands. There are one or two issues on involvement of stateless persons in politics that could be solved in accordance with political needs in the future. I think it is not urgent.

- Are you planning to organize dialogue between ruling and opposition parties?

- We can do all possible to organize dialogue between the government and opposition, but we don’t intend to interfere in domestic policy of Azerbaijan. If both sides demand, we can make some steps or propose this issue. Of course, we can not force the sides to come to dialogue. Earlier we made some proposals on this.

- What is your opinion about the opposition’s rallies? Does the OSCE Office in Baku satisfy with conditions created by the government for opposition actions? Why representatives of your office observe the actions?

- For the first time in five years, both sides agreed on the venue of actions. The actions were held without problems. The purpose of public actions is to suggest ideas. It wouldn’t be when 300-500 people gather in an empty area to say something. The purpose of rallies is to tell own ideas, someone could support it, someone not. I think in the future, the actions will be allowed in places close to center, but not affect the daily life of the city. The government officials also give such ideas. I consider that there will be certain decisions after finishing construction work in the center and some roads. People could be allowed assembling if they don’t’ have destructive and unethical purposes.

- What do you think about the opposition’s opinion that OSCE doesn’t press the government enough?

- Our duty is not to put pressure. I think that we cannot achieve proper result in such a way. We are not inspector. Our duty instructions were adopted by 56 countries including Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is an independent country. We can discuss and advice some issues. We share our anxiety and try to solve it. If we try to put pressure and interfere, we will be as opposition party or NGO.

-How do you estimate the legislation on civil society?

- The civil society develops quickly in Azerbaijan. Many NGOs were established over last 20 years and majority of them are still functioning. I would say that when Turkey joined the European Customs Union in 1988, there was only civil society in the country – Red Crescent. The country needs effective civil society. We are working together with with NGOs and get good results. Of course, civil societies are significant elements in the democratization. NGOs must be creative and establish good relations with local authorities.

-Does the OSCE develop projects for holding discussions on mass media in Azerbaijan?

- Mass media has a financial problem. It is important to solve this problem and reduce financial dependence of mass media. Development of investigative journalism is also significant. Decriminalization of defamation is one of the significant aspects.

-Will you watch Eurovision Song Contest?

-I have not been invited, but I will watch. I would like Azerbaijan to win again.

- Some organizations campaign in foreign media outlets to boycott Eurovision in Azerbaijan. What does the OSCE think about it?

- I think that such events must not be boycotted. On the contrary, it is necessary to use it and try to recognize the country in the world and integrate into democratic values. Increasing attention to Azerbaijan makes both government and citizens responsible. Why it must be boycotted? The other countries have also problems. There is not fearful condition here, but boycott may produce bad results. I have never seen boycotting this contest.

- Will the OSCE representatives visit Azerbaijan concerning the Nagorno Karabakh conflict?

- OSCE chairmen visit member countries. Currently Ireland leads the organization and the Irish chairman will visit Ukraine next year. The Foreign Minister of Ireland was expected to visit the region early April, but it was cancelled due to internal problems in Ireland and I think that the visit will take place in the next few months. OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier is also expected to visit the region. He will schedule the visit in the next months. Karabakh problem and activity of our office are discussed during the visits of OSCE officials. Anyway, Karabakh conflict will be main theme at the official meetings.