Strasbourg, May 22, 2014 (AFP) – New tensions emerged between the Council of Europe and Azerbaijan on Thursday, after the cancellation of a visa issued to a French Socialist MP René Rouquet.
Azerbaijan yet exercised since mid-May the rotating presidency for six months, the executive body of the European organization uniting 47 countries, the “Committee of Ministers” Foreign Affairs.
“Following the decision of the official Baku to cancel at the last minute visa issued” Mr. Rouquet, member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), thus preventing him from attending PACE meetings scheduled for Thursday and Friday in Baku, the Bureau of the Assembly decided retaliation.
“The Assembly committees not hold meetings in Azerbaijan from 1 June for a period of two years,” except for election observation missions, according to a statement. Mr. Rouquet is Vice President of PACE, and president of the French delegation to the meeting, which has 318 parliamentarians from member countries.
The PACE Bureau invoked the “violation of the General Agreement and the Paris Protocol on the Privileges and Immunities of the Council of Europe, which enshrines the dual principle of irresponsibility and parliamentary inviolability and that of free movement “of its members.
States of the Council of Europe must respect “their commitments regarding freedom of movement of members of the Assembly on official mission, particularly with regard to visas,” he has said.
The measure “may be waived if the authorities (Baku) guarantee freedom of movement of members of PACE in Azerbaijan when traveling on behalf of the Assembly,” he has said.
Also Thursday, the European Court of Human Rights, judicial arm of the Council of Europe, ruled that Azerbaijan had violated the fundamental rights to have wanted to silence the opponent Ilgar Mammadov, was recently sentenced to seven years prison.
Visit to Baku, the Secretary General of the pan-European organization, Thorbjorn Jagland, called for the release of Mr. Mammadov. The Council of Europe was established in 1949 and joined in the 1990s by almost all the former communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe, is responsible for the promotion of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
Azerbaijan, one of the last countries to have joined in 2001, is regularly criticized for violations of these principles.
Jagland had already said “worried” last week reports that two French journalists following the official visit of President François Hollande in this country had their equipment confiscated before being deported.
Ara © armenews.com