The Winter Session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe will be held in Strasbourg from 22 to 26 January. The PACE will elect its President and a new Commissioner for Human Rights.
The issues that will be discussed at the Winter Session will be mainly related to humanitarian disasters in conflict zones, achievement of peace and prosperity, tolerance and multiculturalism, increasing anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and xenophobia in Europe.
Specifically, discussions will be held on the humanitarian disaster in Ukraine, the ways of achieving peace between Israel and Palestine. The Secretary General of the Council of Europe will announce his priorities, and the Commissioner for Human Rights will submit an annual report for 2017.
Princess of Denmark, Austrian and Armenian Presidents will also deliver a speech at the PACE winter session. In this regard, the PACE session is very important for Azerbaijan and our delegation is seriously preparing for the Winter Session. We learned the views of the human rights defender Ahmad Shahidov, the head of the Azerbaijan Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, who represents Azerbaijan’s civil society at the PACE winter session.
In his interview to CBC Azerbaijan Television, Ahmad Shahidov said that they are seriously preparing for this session and the PACE members will be informed about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and its humanitarian consequences: “This session is very important to us. First of all, the new President and Human Rights Commissioner will be elected to PACE. The new priorities of the PACE will be announced. The main part of the discussions will be related to the conflicts and their consequences, the rights of refugees and civilians. This is also a priority for Azerbaijan. From this point of view I think that during the PACE session it is expedient to keep on the agenda the issue of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the rights of Azerbaijani IDPs and civilians, as well as the release of Azerbaijani hostages Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev. The activity of the members of the official delegation of Azerbaijan in PACE is expected in this direction.
As a member of Civil Society, we will also intensively function in the Winter Session. We will conduct certain materials with ourselves and during the meetings will inform the PACE members and will ask them to defend the right voice of Azerbaijan on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. We are already in contact with several PACE members, we will meet and talk with them in the PACE.
On January 24, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan will deliver a speech at the PACE. We are considering taking certain steps, taking into account that the president of Armenia will justify his occupation policy during his speech. We will ensure that the PACE members will ask the Armenian President questions about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and its humanitarian consequences, and as members of civil society, we will fulfill our mission in this process.
Considering that the Armenian diaspora in Europe will hold certain actions in Strasbourg, we will take some steps as well. I think that this next session of the PACE will play an important role in promoting the Azerbaijani realities in Europe. In particular, we intend to use PACE opportunities to liberate our Azerbaijani hostages Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev. As a human rights defender, this is our main goal. Therefore, we will use all international platforms to fulfill our tasks in this direction and we will take steps on behalf of Azerbaijan.”