RCNM Newsletter: Minorities in Azerbaijan # 1

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Date: Tue, 13 Jun 2000 19:36:56 +0200 (EET)
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Subject: RCNM Newsletter: Minorities in Azerbaijan # 1

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Original sender: Nadir Kamaldinov <rcnm@azeri.com>

RCNM Newsletter: Minorities in Azerbaijan # 1

RCNM Newsletter
Minorities in Azerbaijan # 1
The theme of national minorities touches on many critical issues
facing Azerbaijan today. We have come here today to share your views
and opinions, and share with you the experience that we in Western
Europe have gathered over many years of dealing with these issues. We
have made many mistakes, and have learnt significant lessons from
Over the past 50 years significant international frameworks have been
created in Europe in order to rectify some of these mistakes. In
attempting to establish conventions for the relations between nations
we have gathered much experience, especially in connection with
national minorities and their political inclusion in accordance with
democratic principles, human rights and equality. Democracy cannot be
pre-prepared. Democracy is a process requiring governments to
establish frameworks of checks and balances, transparency and
accountability. Our experience shows that such frameworks can offer
significant guarantees, allowing for the free existence and
flourishing of national minorities. LINKS would like to express its
gratitude to the Azerbaijani government for facilitating the work of
international and non-governmental organisations in this country. This
ensures that the national minorities of Azerbaijan participate in the
democratic construction of a new society. We need to be sure that this
society will provide equal rights for both Azerbaijanis and for
national minorities, and the right conditions for the free development
of all nationalities.
On the other hand it should be noted that guarantees for the
protection of national minorities in all spheres must be made concrete
in legislation. The passage of these guarantees into legislation must
be an open process with the participation of all groups concerned. In
western Europe, such structures exist and have a vital role to play in
the establishment of guarantees.
Azerbaijan seeks to integrate more closely with European structures.
We are ready to cooperate with Azerbaijan in this area, with both
state structures and non-governmental organisations, and to offer our
support for Azerbaijan's entry into the Council of Europe once all the
necessary conditions have been fulfilled. Fulfilling these conditions
presents significant problems and we should be ready to cooperate to
overcome them.
Nobody would assume that ethnic issues are simple. I have worked in
this region for 5 years and I have seen burnt villages in Abkhazia,
Nagorno Karabakh and Chechnya. Such destruction and carnage cannot
ever be forgotten, and we must work diligently to avoid new centres of
conflict from arising. To do this we must create the necessary
conditions for the democratic incorporation of national minorities,
such that they do not feel their minority status negatively and feel
equally respected. The fact that around this table we have
representatives from so many nationalities clearly demonstrates that
significant changes have occurred in Azerbaijani society in recent
years. These changes are a crucial topic for our discussion today,
involving large and complex questions, and only with a dialogue
between governmental and non-governmental structures can the necessary
exchange of ideas take place. I must say that despite less than ideal
conditions non­governmental organisations in Azerbaijan have
participated very actively in this debate over the past few years.
These organisations have a critical role to play, and it is my sincere
hope that this cooperation between government and NGOs will continue.
Azerbaijan has the potential to be a strong and prosperous state, to
move on from past mistakes and to create a free society for all
irrespective of ethnic affiliation.
Mr. Dennis Sammut, Executive Director of LINKS (The London Information
Network on Conflicts and State-building)

Nadir Kamaldinov
Director of Resource Center on National MInorities
Address: 90/2 B. Safaroglu, Baku City, 370009,
Azerbaijan Republic,
Tel/Fax: (994 12) 97 34 57; (994 50) 328 83 26
E-mail: rcnm@azeri.com  

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