Head of OSCE Office in Baku: Political tasks of the project coordinator will be shrunk to some extent - INTERVIEW

Head of OSCE Office in Baku: Political tasks of the project coordinator will be shrunk to some extent - <span style="color: red;"> INTERVIEW
# 26 December 2013 10:11 (UTC +04:00)

Baku. Victoria Dementyeva – APA. APA’s interview with Koray Targay, Head of the OSCE Office in Baku

- From January 1, the OSCE Office in Baku will operate under a new status. What changes it will entail in the activities of the office?

- In July this year, the OSCE Permanent Council passed a decision to transform the Baku Office into an OSCE Project Coordinator. The main task of the OSCE Office in Baku is the establishment of the OSCE principles in Azerbaijan and the implementation of Azerbaijan’s obligations before OSCE. Under the new status, we will assist the Foreign Ministry in the implementation of Azerbaijan’s commitments. The Project Coordinator will closely cooperate with the Foreign Ministry. I consider that the Project Coordinator will continue the office’s projects to the benefit of Azerbaijan. During 13 years all projects were developed and implemented in close collaboration with the Foreign Ministry and Presidential Administration.

- Will the office keep its monitoring function in the new status?

- A Memorandum of Understanding, which will thoroughly determine the functions of the new office, has not been signed yet. But I can say that monitoring is a part of the mandate. Every person monitors events while watching TV or reading newspapers and is interested in what is happening. This is a normal natural feature of a person. We organize trainings for the police forces of Azerbaijan on freedom of assembly. If any meeting of rally takes place in the country, we want to see how the police act in these cases, whether the trainings are successful or not and how we can improve these trainings. We also hold trainings for political parties and civil societies. But of course, in the trainings, the question is about peaceful demonstrations and peaceful self-expression. We also monitor the results of our trainings.

We also conduct trainings for journalists on media self-regulation, investigative journalism and monitoring in prisons, detention facilities. The monitoring is also a useful way to check the outcomes of our work and improve our work. Therefore, I believe that it would be better to continue the monitoring function in the future. The upcoming Draft Memorandum of Understanding between the OSCE Secretariat and Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry has not been developed yet. OSCE will continue to support the local authorities for rapid development and adoption of the best practices of the other member states. Azerbaijan should run faster and as soon as possible catch up with the countries that have already developed in the fields of democracy and the rule of law. Since Azerbaijan existed for 70 years under another regime, it is not easy to change everything at once, it takes time. This country is in need of support. In fact, Azerbaijan is not alone, there are several other countries that are facing similar difficulties. But if we compare the image of Azerbaijan in 1991, 1995, 2000, 2010 and 2013, we can see progress in this country.

- Which issues of the upcoming Memorandum between Azerbaijan and OSCE remain open?

- The discussion of this issue is underway between Azerbaijani representation in Vienna and representatives of Ukraine that is chairing the organization. Baku Office has not been involved in this process. As far as we know, the Memorandum is almost ready, some technical matters and budget issue remain. The fact is that Azerbaijan's 2014 budget has been approved and it is not easy to include extra spendings. The unique budget of OSCE has not been adopted yet. Such issues remain, they can not called problems. The composition of the project coordination of the new office and framework of its authorities also remain. These are technical matters. The draft Memorandum can be ready by the end of the year. If it is not ready, it is not a problem, it can be easily adopted in January.

- Your tenure is expiring. Is it known who will be appointed as project coordinator? What are your future plans?

- As the year is coming to an end, my tenure is also expiring. The status of project coordinator differs from the status of head of Baku office. I think the tasks of project coordinator do not coincide with the level of ambassador. In my country ambassador is a political level. Political tasks of the project coordinator will be shrunk to some extent. Political tasks will not be fulfilled by the project coordinator, therefore, there is no need to appoint a person on the level of ambassador. A relevant agent will be sufficient. Anyway, this is how I see it. There is a certain procedure regarding the appointment. Every country will show a candidate having some experience and skills. I will return to Ankara - to the Foreign Ministry. I am finishing my career. This has been my 8th appointment, I have worked for 40 years. For now, I do not know what I will do.

- OSCE Office in Baku has functioned for 13 years. How do you evaluate the activity of your office?

- I think the activity of the Office within 13 years has been successful. The Office has implemented hundreds of projects. I believe one of the most important and successful projects was the community policing project we implemented with the Interior Ministry. Election system is being improved in the country. Of course, there are issues that need to be worked on, but the system is improving from election to election. We have a relevant project on human trafficking and it is being implemented successfully. We have got projects on fighting against cyber crimes, oil contamination of the Caspian Sea. One of the most important projects is the use of the water of the Kur river, the relevant agreement is about to be signed. Similar project will also be signed with Georgia. The Office has implemented a project on the support for small and medium businesses. There is a need for the existence of strong middle class in Azerbaijan. I think our cooperation should be continued. Strong middle class is the guarantor of the country's future.

I am satisfied with all the projects. I hope they will be continued as a part of project coordination. But if this activity is restricted, choice should be made among the projects together with the Foreign Ministry.

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