Head of OSCE Office in Baku Ali Bilge Cankorel’s exclusive interview

- You are Turkish, and your deputy is Azerbaijani. Is this an accidental appointment, or a political decision?

- These are accidental appointments. You know, all appointments in OSCE are transparent. These appointments are realized as a result of the process known and interfered with by everybody. Much attention is paid to professional characteristics. Of course, knowing a country and having detailed information about it is also important. But this appointment has no links to our nationality.
- How is Azerbaijan fulfilling the commitments vis-à-vis OSCE?

- Your country is making efforts. Azerbaijan has been the participating member of OSCE for many years. A number of projects have been implemented. Azerbaijan-related issues are discussed in Vienna. Azerbaijan’s permanent representation in Vienna is very active. With support of OSCE Azerbaijan is on the way to democratization to eliminate the shortcomings connected with young democracy.
- OSCE Office in Baku and Press Council were working on the project concerning the work of press services of Azerbaijani government agencies. What can you say about the unique information and communication strategy?

- This issue is being studied now. Unique information and communication strategy is a good project. We are trying to determine its need, later we will discuss the issue with the government. After that we will launch a project basing on it. This project aims to promote spokespersons of government and government circles. The project also aims to improve the relations between the spokespersons and media. It is necessary to ensure mutual information flow and transparency, increase their confidence in each other. One of our goals is to establish much closer relations. We will do it soon.
- Local elections will be held in Azerbaijan at the end of this year. We know that your office will not observe these elections. Will the office offer any technical assistance to Azerbaijan to improve the process of voting?
- As you have said, OSCE does not observe these elections. If Azerbaijan appeals, this appeal will be taken into consideration. But actually we do not observe local elections. We have projects to raise awareness of local observers. In this respect we have an intention to offer technical assistance.
- What is the aim of the community policing project implemented by your office? Will its coverage be extended?
- This is one of our significant and successful projects. Its aim is to increase dialogue, mutual confidence between the police and the people, prevent the causes of crimes and reduce the number of crimes. The project was launched in Baku, later the project was applied in other cities. I was provided an example from Mingachevir.

The number of crimes was reduced by 50 percent in that city. I don’t know how do these good results relate to our project, but I know that it is possible to prevent the causes led to the crimes. This is a modern mechanism used worldwide. I know that Turkey started to implement the community policing project 2-3 years ago. We wanted to bring this new mechanism to Azerbaijan too. Our office had successful activity in this field. We are working closely with the Interior Ministry and we are satisfied with this cooperation.
- Have you started the monitoring of preliminary detention places? When will you make the report public?

- It will be permanent. We are working with the Ministry of Justice as well. The monitoring is conducted to make the preliminary detention places, penitentiaries according to the international standards. There will be no offensive actions, tortures against the accused and sentenced people. They will be provided with opportunities to defend themselves. We are conducting the monitoring and our representatives are visiting the detentions places occasionally. The government organizations support us in this field.
- The European Union is carrying out large project for improvement of legal system in Azerbaijan. Does your office participate in this project?
- We are conducting the monitoring of courts in many regions of Azerbaijan and learning the reports prepared after the monitoring. We will draw conclusion on these reports. Our experts are discussing these reports with representatives of the Ministry of Justice once a month. This is very important project and has a good basis. We are organizing trainings and mooting for the lawyers, public prosecutors, investigators and judges.
- Did you meet with political parties and NGOs in Azerbaijan? What is your opinion about them?
- I am new in this office. I had no opportunity to meet with all ministers. Yesterday I met with the leaders of ruling party. I will meet with opposition and other parties too. We have mostly the election projects to be carried out in cooperation with the political parties. There are questions of conscious voting and voters’ enlightening during the elections. We are organizing the trainings in this field.
- What is your opinion about the Azerbaijani press?

- Azerbaijani press has to be developed more. I don’t see a large newspaper here. There are TV channels and I see that they are working to develop themselves. We are carrying out the projects for education of journalists. The OSCE can not be responsible for full education program of the journalists, but we will carry out the projects to achieve the intellectual changes and high-standard education. It is possible to provide the Azerbaijani people with opportunities to use the rights of getting information and freedom of expression through the press. It is very important to raise a level of press, to modernize it and to secure the information flow between the government and media. We are seeing this issue from this view.