Speech by Mr. Elmar Mammadyarov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan at the committee of ministers of the Council of Europe Strasbourg, 13 November 2014, SIA reports.
Today the Azerbaijani Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe is coming to an end. As you know, this was the first chairmanship of my country since joining the Council of Europe as a full-fledge member in 2001.
At this juncture, I am proud to state that Azerbaijan deployed considerable efforts in furthering the objectives of the Council of Europe during its Chairmanship. These six months were rather challenging as our continent is going through difficult times of its history. Bearing that in mind, the priorities of the Azerbaijani chairmanship were identified taking full account of the topical issues on the agenda of the Council of Europe and persistent challenges encountered by member States.
Now let me inform you in more detail of what has been undertaken in support of our priority action lines.
Combating corruption constituted one of the Chairmanship priority tasks. My country contributed to the efforts of the Council of Europe through organising a Conference on international standards and national experiences in the fight against corruption in Baku on 30 June – 1 July 2014. The conference discussed the topical issues such as the implementation of anti-corruption legislation, preventive measures against corruption, international co-operation and the success stories and challenges of individual countries.
Azerbaijan was particularly pleased that, the 13th Council of Europe Conference of Sport Ministers in Macolin, Switzerland in September witnessed the signing of the Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions, which will be instrumental in defeating this emerging challenge of the corruption phenomenon. We believe this legal instrument will quickly secure the number of ratifications required for its entry into force, hopefully before the 2015 European Games in Baku.
An international conference on public service delivery in the context of human rights and good governance was held last September in Baku. It is worth mentioning that this particular topic was addressed by the Council of Europe for the first time. The conference gave rise to the Azerbaijani proposal to establish an international association of public service delivery agencies as a platform to exchange best practices. We expect the member states’ support to this initiative which has a lot of merit in terms of advancing the Council of Europe objectives.
The consolidation of culturally diverse societies was also among the Azerbaijani Chairmanship priorities. The Council of Europe 2014 Exchange on the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue was held in Baku early September under the general topic "Intercultural dialogue: interaction between culture and religion". The Baku exchange once again testified to the importance of this platform as a valuable forum and its conclusions will be examined shortly by the relevant Rapporteur Group to decide on possible follow-up activities.
Within this broader line of action, Baku also hosted the first Council of Europe Platform Exchange on Culture and Digitisation, European Heritage Days celebration event, Council of Europe Cultural Routes Advisory Forum. The Chairmanship also organised an international forum in Gabala, Azerbaijan within the "No hate speech movement” campaign to consolidate its accomplishments.
In line with its next priority, Azerbaijan sought to complement the Council of Europe’s undertakings to ensure everyone’s access to social rights without discrimination. In this context, we organised a conference to review the Council of Europe Social Cohesion Strategy and Action Plan in Baku last September. The role national human rights institutions can play in ensuring women rights was debated extensively during the European Conference of Ombudspersons held in Baku in June.
During the Chairmanship, Azerbaijan also focused on youth and education. In order to back the Council of Europe efforts in this field, Azerbaijan organised a number of international events, in some instances going beyond the Council of Europe’s geographical scope.
A meeting of the co-ordinators for the Council of Europe Charter of Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights, an international conference on local democracy and youth, the 4th regional meeting of Ministers of Education on the implementation of European Higher Education Area held in Baku were all oriented to further streamline our Organisation’s endevours.
Let me single out one major event, namely the United Nations First Global Forum on youth policies held in Baku on 28-30 October with the strong institutional support of the Council of Europe. About 700 youth ministers, youth policy leaders and professionals coming from more than 80 countries adopted the "Baku commitment to Youth policies" calling for establishing a global initiative on youth policies and the sharing of expertise in the field of public youth policies.
Furthermore, the protection and promotion of human rights with a particular focus on effectiveness of the Convention system was addressed in a high-level conference on the role of national judges in enhancing the domestic application of the European Convention of Human Rights held in Baku last month.
Azerbaijan also took advantage of its Chairmanship to support the Council of Europe's policy regarding neighbouring regions. The high-level conference on the neighbourhood policy held in Baku on 7-8 November 2014 reviewed the achievements made so far in deepening dialogue with the partner countries from the neighbourhood. The participants from both the Council of Europe Members states and partner countries reiterated their unequivocal support for this policy. As the Council of Europe and partner countries are currently in the process of taking stock of the co-operation activities carried out in 2012-2014, the outcomes of this timely conference will certainly guide us in identifying the priorities for the years to come.
The Chairmanship period was also marked by a close interaction between the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly. In this spirit, H.E. Mr Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, addressed the Assembly at its June session. In my capacity of Chairman of the Committee of Ministers, I presented to the Parliamentary Assembly the reports on the activities of our Committee at the June and October sessions and had an exchange of views with its members. I also addressed the meeting of the Standing Committee of Parliamentary Assembly in Baku last May.
We also invested our efforts to strengthen synergy and partnership between the Council of Europe and other international organisations. In this context, Azerbaijan is currently conducting informal negotiations in New York to achieve consensus in the United Nations General Assembly on a draft resolution on co-operation between the United Nations and the Council of Europe.
To conclude, I would like to extend our gratitude for the excellent co-operation offered during the whole chairmanship tenure, to member and observer states, the Council of Europe bodies and the Secretariat, with whom the Chairmanship worked in a spirit of compromise and dialogue to achieve consensual outcomes to the benefit of all. Let me also assure you that we will continue, after the completion of the chairmanship term, to render our support to Belgium and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the implementation of our shared priorities.
You will find more detailed information about the Chairmanship activities in our written report circulated to the Delegations.