Yavuz Mildon: If we want the municipalities to improve, we should recognize their financial independence

Yavuz Mildon: If we want the municipalities to improve, we should recognize their financial independence
# 03 December 2008 07:30 (UTC +04:00)
-How do you assess local democracy in Azerbaijan?

-I believe that significant and positive improvements have been made in Azerbaijan in terms of local democracy. The Council of Europe has such a rule. Municipal unions should be established in order to cooperate with the member states. Our real duty is municipal unions. Under the union we mean the unities of local self-governing bodies and local municipalities. There was no such a model in Azerbaijan until recently. But now there is Association of Local Self-Governing Bodies in Azerbaijan. Now we can easily cooperate with Azerbaijan in this sphere. We have close relations with Justice Ministry. Now Azerbaijan can also serve as an example to the European countries, which are on the stage of democratization. The new laws serve to improve local self-governing bodies in Azerbaijan. I am confident that Azerbaijan will conform with the standards of the Council of Europe in this field.
The biggest problem of Azerbaijan in local self-government is that its territories are under occupation. Council of Europe has also accepted this fact. Of course it is impossible to speak about Azerbaijani local self-governing bodies in the occupied territories. We are concerned that there are no local self-governing bodies in 25 percent of Azerbaijani territories. Both the Council of Europe and the Congress are ready to give necessary support for the solution to this problem.

-What is your opinion of the proposals to elect Baku mayor?

-Each country has its specific features. It does not only concern Azerbaijan. For example, mayors are appointed by the queen in the Netherlands. What is important is that the common governing principles should be in line with the international documents also signed by Azerbaijan. I do not want to go into details. Our rapporteurs and institutional commission deal with these issues. The Council of Europe is open to any complaint that may arise in this issue.

-Is the report being prepared on the state of local democracy in Azerbaijan?

-We are not preparing any report on Azerbaijan at the moment. We are preparing reports on some other countries. But these reports are prepared when there are complaints. Our reports usually coincide with the election period. The delegation of the Congress will visit Azerbaijan at the invitation of the parliament during the next local elections in 2009 and observe the election process.

-To what spheres of local self-government should be paid more attention?

- Local self-government is a new field in Azerbaijan and therefore it demands much attention. Local self-government organizations in Europe meet 70 percent of budget of expenditure. The independent municipal funding should be focused specially. If we want to develop the local self-government, we need to recognize its financial independence. If the municipality is financed by the central government, it turns into the government’s representation. Naturally it doesn’t mean that the municipality should control all spheres. It is particular that the financial independence meets the Council of Europe Local Self-Government Charter demands. Of course every country has its own local and national features in the implementation of these rules. Our further activity in Azerbaijan and other countries will assist to the local self-government organizations to get independent financial resources.

-When are you planning your visit to Azerbaijan?

-I can’t say an exact date, but it will be in the spring of 2009. I will visit not only Azerbaijan, but other South Caucasian countries as well. I have already received invitations from Armenia and Georgia, but I want to visit brotherly Azerbaijan in near future.

-Today the Congress adopted resolution on Georgia. How do you value the results of discussions generally?

-The resolution on the “Results of Georgian-Russian conflict in local level: assistance of the European self-government organizations” was adopted unanimously. Of course there were some points not satisfied the Russian and Georgian representatives and there might be points not satisfied us, but the document was adopted with the majority of votes. It is a success of the Council of Europe.
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