TODAY.AZ / Politics

Elnur Aslanov: "Some aspects of democratic development of Azerbaijan, voiced at the hearings in the Helsinki commission are not true"

30 July 2008 [17:53] - TODAY.AZ
Day.Az interview with Elnur Aslanov, chief of department of political analysis and information supply under Azerbaijan's Presidential administration.
- How do you assess hearings on Azerbaijan in the Helsinki commission of the US Congress?

- First of all, some aspects regarding the democratic development of Azerbaijan, voiced at the hearings, were untrue, provoking and biased.

Azerbaijan has attained great achievements through the past years in the economic and political spheres. The current policy allows us to speak of the gradual completion of the country's transitive period. When analyzing the years of 2003 and 2008, it becomes clear that the per capita GDP has risen from $880 to $4000. Azerbaijan has become an important geoeconomic participant, a significant factor, uniting the economies of North and South, East and West.

On the basis of the recently discussed IMF report, this figure will be about $13,000 in 2013, which is a proof of successful economic development. Franklin Delano Roosevelt used to say that "poverty and freedom are incompatible". The democratic consolidation primarily requires high level of citizens' living conditions. The processes of economic development and democratization go on par today.

But it is necessary to take into account that democracy is a complex, long-lasting and responsible process. We have specified the democratic development as a priority. This is our main goal. But it should be approached in phases, with understanding of the specifics of transformation, considering changes in public conscience and being aware of the complexity of democratic transit.

To demand from new independent countries to pass the summer period within one day is the same as to expect a pupil to speak of economic cybernetics. Unfortunately, the thoughts, voiced by Mr.Walker at the hearings are far from what we witness now and what we have defined for ourselves.

I think Freedom House needs long-term and serious acquaintance with our country. They obviously lack it to make true conclusions. On the other hand, such organizations have long before monopolized the use of the concept of freedom and democracy and have turned the word freedom into a certain ads slogan.

- Are the congressmen, speaking at the hearings, well informed of the situation in Azerbaijan?

- As I have already mentioned, Azerbaijan today is an intensively developing state. The society has the transparent environment, free mass media and political organizations and the third sector is becoming an integral part of the sociopolitical and social processes. Religious tolerance here can serve an example for a number of developed, western democracies. Los Angeles Rabbi Abraham Cooper, recently visiting Baku, said that upon arrival to Paris he will have to take off his skullcap, for others might do it for him in the more biased manner. That is the level of "tolerance". I think there is a great number of such examples.

In other words, efforts, taken by the Azerbaijani leadership for development of public institutions, observation of human rights and development of press, can not remain unnoticed. We do not say that we  have no shortcomings. We insist that we are removing them and as Mr.President once said we have an interaction between the society and powers. Such an approach as well as the existing public control promote formation of effective statehood. I invite the congressmen to visit Azerbaijan and witness the development.

- Representative of Freedom House Christopher Walker, quoting on executive secretary of Yeni Azerbaijan party Ali Ahmedov, noted that Azerbaijan follows the way of Belarus and Kazakhstan by choosing the model of life-long presidency. Are these statements founded?

- Mr.Walker's statement was erroneous and falsified. Executive secretary of the Yeni Azerbaijan Party Ali Ahmedov has never made such a statement. I think they should be more accurate in approaching the statements of ruling elite representatives.

Certainly, I understand that such organizations, like the one represented by Mr.Walker must exist and get grants, but by criticizing shortcomings in the democratic development of Azerbaijan and neglecting the violation of democratic principles in a number of other states, Freedom House demonstrates double standards.

The issues of democracy and human rights require single approaches to all participants of world order and not to choose any country in separate. If Freedom House attempts to form a universal values system in the world, let them apply it to everyone and not attribute it to separate countries.

By the way, we are far from any thoughts like "resource nationalism", as it is not the term, which reflects the real course of Azerbaijan's development. By setting democracy as a priority for ourselves, we have a right to define the terms and rates of moving on this way in line with historical, political, economic and social and cultural factors.

- Chairman of the Helsinki Commission Alsi Hastings announced that it is impossible to criticize the head of state in Azerbaijan and a person may be punished for it. What will be the official reaction to this accusation?

- I offer you to translate a page of any opposition newspaper for Mr.Alsi Hastings and demonstrate the obvious sample of not only criticism but also libel and insults in the opposition press. Azerbaijan is tolerant to criticism, as is it a sound and constructive component of development. We are against lie, libel and insult, but we consider the criticism as an integral attribute of democratic development. It is difficult to speak of the complex development of a state and society without due criticism. We live in a democratic state, therefore, the statement of the lack of criticism is unfounded.

- The Azerbaijani ambassador to US said that legalization of libel can cause complicated reaction in the society, but the government works in this direction despite. It means that the government intends to adopt a law "On defamation" but people do not want it. What is your attitude to it?

- Free and independent press is a priority, defined by the President of Azerbaijan. But, I think, for adoption of the Law of Defamation it is necessary to pass the way from journalists, who consider, they can do everything to the ability to approach the tasks, set before journalists with responsibility. I am sure that in the future some journalists will understand the phrase "Responsibility before society".

- Is it correct to hold such hearings in the threshold of presidential elections in Azerbaijan. Couldn't they hold the hearings last year? Is it a kind of pressure on Azerbaijani authorities?

- I do not think it is an element of pressure. The United States and Azerbaijan maintain stable and trustful relations both in the political and economic sector. We are always prepared to holding public hearings, especially because this practice has been applied not for the first year in the United States. But we do believe that such hearings should be transparent and open, thus complying with the spirit of our relations. We do hope that such steps should be aimed only at strengthening of mutual relations between our states.

/Day.Az/
URL: http://www.today.az/news/politics/46754.html

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