“You are the ambassadors of local democracy", said Ian Micallef to members of Azerbaijan Congress delegation

05/03/2009 - At a meeting on Thursday afternoon President a.i. Ian Micallef explained the position of the Congress Bureau to members of the Azerbaijan Congress delegation in respect of the referendum on constitutional amendments scheduled for 18 March 2009. As the Council of Europe’s watchdog to monitor local and regional democracy in member countries, the Congress has examined the proposed amendment to Article 146 of the Constitution of Azerbaijan carefully, said Micallef. “It is our strong opinion that this interpretation of Article 146 - which is dealing with the autonomy of local authorities – is not in conformity with the European Charter of Local Self-Government. Azerbaijan has ratified this fundamental document of the Congress on territorial autonomy and therefore has to comply with its provisions.”

The Venice Commission was entrusted to deliver an expert opinion on the amendments submitted by Azerbaijan and the Congress is waiting for the results. “If the Venice Commission confirms the view of the Congress we shall call on the government of Azerbaijan to suspend immediately the planned referendum”, said Micallef. And he added: “As members of the Congress delegation you are the ambassadors of local democracy in your country. You are answerable to the people of Azerbaijan, not to the government. And you must not allow a breach of the Charter which would imply the weakening of the democratic rights of your electorate.”


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