Virtual Karabakh Karabakh Justice for khojaly

Presentation by Colonel-General Ramil I.Ussubov, the Minister for Internal Affairs, Republic of Azerbaijan, at the 58-th Rose-Roth Seminar held by the NATO Parliamentary Assembly

25.11.2004 20:16

Distinguished Seminar Participants,

We resume the first session dedicated to the issues related to domestic stability and factors that may negatively effect it.

In the presentations at the plenary session a particular attention was paid to this very multifaceted issue with an emphasis made at the necessity of joint efforts to be made by the nations, the international community and constructive forces throughout the world to address the new threats and challenges.

Domestic stability is of a paramount importance for dynamic development of the nation. It constitutes the major precondition for social, economic and cultural progress. Meanwhile domestic stability has a vital significance for further development of infrastructure, market economy, environmental security, reliable defense, supremacy of law and observation of human rights. It provides investment-friendly climate and hence paves the road for integration into the world community.

Strategic course for Azerbaijan’s domestic and international policy, as well as the country’s future prospects in this regard were very thoughtfully identified by the national leader Mr.Heydar Aliyev. Peaceable foreign policy, respect to national sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states and active integration into the world community provide the backbone of this policy. And this is the course that at the moment is consistently followed with broad public support by His Excellency Ilham Aliyev, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

In the framework of time allocated I would like to brief you regarding activities undertaken in the country within the recent years in the field gaining and maintaining domestic stability. Hardships and complexities of gaining internal stability at the initial period of national independence are still alive in the nation’s memory. Incompetence and lack of will from the government side at the period of 1992-1993 resulted in a complete chaos, maladministration, structural errors, corruption, rampant crime, hundreds of thousands displaced persons, arbitrariness and so on.

Review of all these factors on the background of 20 per cent of Azerbaijani territories and activities of separatist forces in Nagorno Karabakh furthermore underlines complexity of regaining domestic stability in the country given that moment.

From the seminar’s point of view I would like to draw your attention to the performance of law-enforcement agencies as an important component of domestic stability.

Strengthening national independence and democratic principles, development of market economy, large-scale economic reforms, improved legal mechanisms of public relations have become realities of Azerbaijan’s life at the moment.

With its peaceable policy the Republic of Azerbaijan is currently taking steps towards creation of a secular state based on the rule of law and fully integrated into the international community.
The country has undergone democratic legislative reforms by adopting humanistic criminal legislation and undertaking significant steps in the field of human rights and supremacy of the law.

Since the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan stipulates protection of human rights and civil liberties as the major duty of the state, activities of national law-enforcement agencies are centered around these very values.

We try to our best to improve our performance in this particular field. The whole system of crime control and prevention has undergone substantial changes within the recent period. Set of institutional and practical steps in combating crime and maintaining public security is jointly undertaken by the government authorities in a consistent manner. All these efforts are aimed at prevention and combating criminal offences, search for the perpetrators and protection of all forms of property from illegal encroachments.

The national law-enforcement agencies acting in close coordination conduct comprehensive steps to cope with international terrorism, extremism, separatism, organized crime in its various forms, including illegal traffic in narcotic drugs, traffic in human beings, illegal migration. These joint measures comprise administrative, practical and special operations.

Special attention is paid at exposure of criminal gangs at the early stages and seizure of firearms from illegal use. Altogether around 25 thousand specimens of firearms were collected from illegal circulation during last 10 years with 33 thousand people held criminally liable for 14.700 criminal offences committed in a group.

Series of steps aimed at suppression of illegal traffic in narcotic drugs has been recently conducted in the country. This includes legislative initiatives, increased international cooperation and efforts to upgrade performance of the law-enforcement. The special National commission has been established for this specific purpose and the National Program for Combating Drug Abuse, Illegal Traffic in Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and Precursors was adopted followed by the Law on Combating Illegal Traffic in Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and Precursors.

Together with the pieces of national legislation and by-laws in the field of combating illegal drug traffic our activities in this field are guided by the relevant UN Conventions of 1961, 1971 and 1988 which the Republic of Azerbaijan is a party to. Recommendations of the influential international organizations and best practices of developed nations also provide a very helpful tool in this respect.

Since any lack of control in this sphere may significantly aggravate the drug situation in the country and have a negative effect of the crime dynamics in general, channels of drugs’ smuggle into the country are permanently scrutinized.

Meanwhile it should be regretfully noted that due to  highly latent character of this type of criminal offences we only succeed in intercepting about 10 per cent of the whole bulk of narcotic drugs trafficked. The rest part is traded through the black market.

Another serious challenge of ours in this regard is to curb attempts of benefiting from Azerbaijan’s geo-strategic location and using the country’s territory as a transit corridor for drug transportation to the West.

One of these itineraries includes Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan (through the Caspian Sea), Georgia, Turkey and further Europe. Another optional route passes through Afghanistan, Iran, Azerbaijan (via occupied territories in Karabakh), Armenia and then Europe. The route Afghanistan-Iran-Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey-Europe provides another possibility of transit.

Meanwhile consistent steps are undertaken in the country in the field of eradication of crops of drug containing plants, exposure and treatment of drug addicts and awareness campaigns among the population.

Distinguished  participants,

Illegal migration and traffic in human being constitute another important matter of our constant concern.

Apart from creating favorable conditions for illegal traffic in narcotic drugs, firearms, human beings, smuggle, economic and tax-related crimes, illegal migration is accompanied by egregious violations of human and civil rights.

We view combat against illegal migration as one of the major preconditions for efficient prevention of international terrorism and other forms of transnational crime.

Relevant legislation was adopted in the country with a view to better tackling this problem, and a number of government authorities are currently cooperating in this field.

Taking note of the UN Convention on Combating Transnational Organized Crime (signed by the Republic of Azerbaijan  on December 12, 2000 and adopted through the national law on May 13, 2003), as well as its additional Protocol on Fighting and Penalizing Human Traffic, in Particular among Women and Children, as well as following provisions of the Brussels Declaration on Combating and Prevention of Traffic in Human Beings, the National Action Plan on Combating Traffic in Human Beings in the Republic of Azerbaijan was adopted pursuant to the Decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan issued on May 6, 2004. The major priorities based on observation of human rights and liberties were identified in the National Action Plan by considering provisions of the international legal instruments mentioned above and supporting efforts in this sphere with the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan appointed as the coordinating body for this specific issues (i.e. combating human traffic).

The major types of activities specified in the National Action Plan include improvement of the national legislation, coordination of activities of the agencies involved in combating human traffic, appointment of the National Coordinator, establishment of the special service within the Ministry of Internal Affairs in charge for combating traffic in human beings, protection of victims and witnesses of this type of criminal offences, etc.

In this respect I would like to mention that the Human Traffic Division within the MIA established in May 2004 has already undertaken a serious work.

Speaking on the whole the criminal situation in the country is kept under   control with positive trends resulting from well-established domestic stability getting furthermore tangible.

Analysis of crime dynamics in the Republic of Azerbaijan for several recent years indicate a general decline in the crime rate.

Situation with grave crimes for 10 recent years reveals decline in homicide cases by 3 times, robbery and brigandage by 4 times and crimes involving firearms by more than 10 times.

That said, we are to be permanently alert in addressing threats caused by the transnational organized crime, international terrorism and aggressive separatism as the negative impact of these crimes is ever-increasing.

Further dissemination of terrorism, separatism and extremism, as well as other types of criminal activities, such as illegal traffic firearms, narcotic drugs, radioactive materials, human traffic, illegal migration, money laundering, etc. constitute one of the most serious global problems today.

At the moment comprehensive preventive measures are conducted in the country to expose persons prone to various forms of extremist activities. This was the reason for increasing control and scrutiny over the procedure of issuing identity documents and close cooperation between the Ministries of Internal Affairs, National Security, Justice, Foreign Affairs, General Public Prosecutors’ Office and Frontier Service related to extradition of individuals directly linked to terrorist organizations. Any possibilities of sheltering these persons in our country or providing them with any kind of support are completely excluded. Tangible steps were undertaken with a view to freezing funds and other sources of profit of private persons and organizations linked with terrorism.

Constant information and intelligence exchange with foreign counterparts is one of the main ways of preventing terrorist attacks. In this regard about 30 persons were detained within 5 recent years due to links with terrorist organizations such as Al-Jihad or the Islamic Army of the Caucasus and more then 20 members of illegal armed units were held criminally liable. Units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs also took active part in operative measures conducted jointly with units of other law enforcement agencies and special services. During the period mentioned above, 14 members of North Caucasus group of Radical Vahabi movement, tried to get in hiding in a territory of the country after commitment of terrorist acts, explosions of residential buildings in various cities of Russian Federation and resulted with death of hundreds of people, were arrested and released to the requesting country. 

Together with this we are eager to provide any form of assistance in prosecuting any cases of financing and supporting terrorist attacks.

A noteworthy detail in this regard is that search, operations and other legitimate measures are conducted by the national law-enforcement agencies and secret services to prevent the facts of using territory of Azerbaijan for perpetration of terrorist attacks abroad.

It is well known that active involvement in curbing financial sources of terrorism constitutes an important element of anti-terrorist activities. Courier deliveries of cash to perpetrators of terrorist attack together with supporting them through humanitarian charity associations are oftentimes used as major mechanisms of financing terrorism. This necessitates a very scrupulous control over this type of activities from the relevant national government agencies.

As a result of coherent actions in this respect subsidiary branches of 6 humanitarian organizations were closed in Baku within recent 6 years with 43 persons related to these organizations deported from Azerbaijan.

A furthermore dangerous type of patronage to terrorism is an assistance provided on a national level by states supporting terrorism to separatist movements. It should be also noted in this regard that any type of indirect assistance provided to separatist regimes ignoring the relevant national authorities, i.e. through certain projects, assistance on special programs, donor support or any gratuitous military assistance rendered by states supporting such regimes  is identical to direct or indirect support of terrorism. This type of assistance to separatist regimes is absolutely inadmissible and contrary to Resolution No.1373 by the UN Security Council.

For a number of times the Republic of Azerbaijan was targeted by terrorist organizations controlled by secret services of Armenia and supportive of  separatists in Nagorno Karabakh. Involvement of special services of Armenia in masterminding 32 terrorist attacks committed more than 100 kilometers away from the front-line was proven in the course of investigation.

Nowadays international terrorism, separatism, extremism and transnational organized crime present a new set of threats and challenges for all the countries of the world. So the only way to address these challenges is through joint efforts and reinforced international cooperation, and Azerbaijan is actively involved in this process on multilateral, regional and bilateral levels.

Distinguished meeting participants,

The worldwide fight against terrorism entered into a completely new phase in the wake of the events of September 11 2001 in the United States. Immediately after this tragedy the Republic of Azerbaijan resolutely joined the Anti-terrorist Coalition and provided whatever contribution possible to combating terrorism in any form, be that of legislative, institutional or operational nature.

In this respect 11 UN Conventions and 10 legal instruments of the Council of Europe were signed by the Republic of Azerbaijan. Amendments introduced into the national Criminal Code reinforced criminal liability for involvement in terrorism and identified financial support to terrorist activities as a separate criminal offence. Certain alterations were also introduced into the National Law on Combating Terrorism. Action Plan on fighting terrorism was adopted pursuant to the Presidential Decree of May 11, 2002 with relevant instructions made to various national agencies, the Ministry of Internal Affairs among them.

Speaking of some other achievements accomplished as a result of regained domestic stability I would like to reiterate tremendous importance of settlement of Nagorno Karabakh issue. The time has come to put end to ongoing aggression of Armenia and separatism of ethnic Armenians. Apart from undermining peace and prosperity of the region they pose a serious danger to the regional economic development and hamper implementation of the new projects aimed at regional security. Baku-Ceykhan pipeline is among these extremely important regional endeavors.

Further assistance to be rendered to our country in the framework of Partnership for Peace (PfP) process, as well as the Alliance’s respect to Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity were declared Mr.Schaeffer, the General Secretary of NATO, during his recent visit to Baku.

Both the leadership and the people of the Republic of Azerbaijan and striving to peaceful settlement of the existing problem and cherish the hope of getting support of the international community, however this patience cannot be endless.

Distinguished meeting participants

We are living in a dynamic and interrelated world. Tragic events in the United States, followed by recent terrorist attacks in Egypt, Turkey, Spain, Pakistan and Russia clearly indicate that not a single country of the world may be totally protected from this horrible menace. Increasing threats posed by terrorism worldwide force us to respond to these challenges in close junction with various states and within the international community as a whole. Meanwhile enhanced performance in combating international terrorism, best practices and experience of various countries and increasing competence in this sphere are among our major priorities.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan as one of the country’s force structures is highly interested in further cooperation with NATO and is actively involved in relevant programs with the Alliance.

Within the scope of its mandate and competence the Ministry has identified the fields of partnership in the framework of Planning & Analysis Process, so at the moment a special peace-keeping battalion in charge for guarding and security missions during international operations is being trained within the Internal Troops subordinate to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Activities in this field are held in quite a rapid pace.

Within the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) representatives of the Internal Troops are actively involved in the activities of the relevant Commission’s Working Group.

This cooperation envisages modernization of Internal Troops in the course of cooperation with NATO and its member states, improvement command and control system and information security.

Apart form this, NATO’s program on combating terrorism provides some new opportunities for the Ministry of Internal Affairs as a part of the national law-enforcement system. In the meantime assistance of the Alliance in implementation of future prospects of cooperation with NATO will be also very highly appreciated. First of all I would like to note technical and methodology assistance, exchange of experience, holding seminars, trainings and specialized courses by high experienced specialists.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is interested in lasting peace and stability in the Caucasus. Cooperation and tranquility are among the Alliance’s major goals in the region. NATO structures possess a significant potential and sufficient possibilities in guaranteeing security both in the region as a whole and in its separate countries. And what is of a paramount importance is that the Alliance represents a political will of democratic societies.

It goes without saying that partnership with NATO is of an extremely high importance for us, hence well-founded, mutually beneficial and clear value-oriented strategy is absolutely necessary. Intensive activities are currently held in the framework of Azerbaijan’s Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) with NATO. The project of virtual Silk Road together with cooperation in scientific and environmental spheres are being discussed at the moment. Priorities for cooperation in a number of fields have been already identified with a set of preliminary agreements accomplished.

Increase of our links with NATO, as well as other influential international organizations is the requirement of the day and I believe that with all its benefits for Azerbaijan this position will have a very positive impact on joining efforts in combating transnational crime and addressing threats and challenges of terrorism worldwide. Meanwhile it goes pretty much in line with the international trend of maintaining domestic stability within each given state.

I hope this meeting of ours will be in unison with the similar processes currently going on  throughout the world.

Exchange of opinions, consensus building and substantial discussion of the most topical aspects of cooperation with NATO including security and domestic stability issues will finally provide a solid ground for approximation of positions in addressing common challenges of ours.

Thank you for your kind attention