Ex-Soviet state looking to leave Council of Europe – media

Azerbaijan was accused PACE of bias following a row over the rule of law

Azerbaijan may quit the Council of Europe due to a dispute over human rights, the country’s official news agency APA reported on Thursday. The news came after the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) voted to suspend Baku’s delegation.

According to APA, Azerbaijan “will not stand idle in the face of unfair and biased attitude” and is considering “not only leaving PACE, but the Council of Europe as a whole.” Baku may also decide to stop abiding by the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights, the news agency said.

During Wednesday’s session in Strasbourg, PACE passed a resolution arguing that Azerbaijan has “not fulfilled major commitments” in the field of democracy and the rule of law. “Very serious concerns remain as to [Azerbaijan’s] ability to conduct free and fair elections, the separation of powers, the weakness of its legislature vis-à-vis the executive, the independence of the judiciary and respect for human rights,” the resolution read.

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The delegates also accused Baku of failing to ensure “free and safe access through the Lachin corridor” connecting Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh region with Armenia. Last year, Azerbaijani troops re-established control over the region, expelling the authorities of the breakaway ethnically Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR), which had existed since the early 1990s. More than 100,000 Armenians – more than 90% of Karabakh’s population – has since fled.

The Azerbaijani delegation to PACE released a statement, accusing the body of attempting to meddle in the country’s elections. Officials described the decision to reject the credentials of the delegates as “a serious blow to the credibility and impartiality of the Council of Europe.” 

“Never before in the history of the PACE has this organization behaved in such a disgraceful manner,” the statement read, as cited by the news agency Trend. Baku said that it is suspending all engagements with PACE until further notice.

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