During the discussions in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, members of the Azerbaijani delegation conducted intensive work on the humanitarian consequences of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the Azerbaijani IDPs and hostages.
The Winter Session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe was held on January 22-26 in Strasbourg, France. On the first day of the session, the new president and vice-presidents of PACE, Commissioner for Human Rights and chairpersons of committees were elected. PACE’s priorities for the new term were announced. The issues of territorial integrity of the countries, the peaceful settlement of conflicts, the rights of refugees and internally displaced persons, the security of the civilian population in conflicts, and other issues have been declared priority in the PACE action plan.
The Azerbaijani delegation also took an active part in the PACE Winter Session. In addition to the official delegation consisting of members of the Milli Majlis (Parliament), members of the Azerbaijani civil society also demonstrated special activity during the PACE Winter Session. Head of the Azerbaijan Institute for Democracy and Human Rights Dr. Ahmad Shahidov held meetings with members of the PACE within the framework of the Session and kept the issue of release of Azerbaijani hostages Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev on the agenda. Ahmad Shahidov had meetings with delegations from Turkey, Ukraine, Moldova, Albania, Italy, France, Germany, Austria and other countries to the PACE. The human rights defender informed about the Azerbaijani hostages and distributed brochures and photos in English and French among PACE members.
In addition, on January 24, Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan addressed the PACE Winter Session. Before the speech of the Armenian president, a stand was held on the Azerbaijani hostages in the PACE building, photos of Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev were shown to members of the PACE. During the day more than 60 PACE members got acquainted with that stand and provided detailed information about hostages.
Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan passed through that stand while entering the PACE and entered the plenary session. In his speech, the Armenian president spoke about his country’s “development, devotion to democratic values and human rights”. Serzh Sargsyan voiced false and biased thoughts on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and faced a difficult situation during his speech. Thus, human rights defender Ahmad Shahidov, who was sitting in the hall, held a silent protest action, holding photos of the hostages Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev. Serzh Sargsyan was surprised when he saw the photos of the Azerbaijani hostages and had to break his speech for a while. Silent action also attracted the attention of PACE members. After a while the representatives of the PACE Security Service entered the hall and demanded Ahmad Shahidov to stop the protest action and leave the hall. The silent action caused the PACE members and participants of the session to be informed about the Azerbaijani hostages Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev, and the issue has led to broad discussions within the PACE.