History of Azerbaijan's membership in the Council of Europe
Azerbaijan’s path towards the membership in the Council of Europe
As a full-fledged member of the Council of Europe since 25 January 2001, Azerbaijan has been contributing to multilateral diplomacy within the Council of Europe. The history of relations between Azerbaijan and the Council of Europe dates back to 1992. On 24 January 1992, the Parliament of the Republic of Azerbaijan applied to the Council of Europe for the status of "special guest". In February 1995, the Bureau of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) initiated consideration of Azerbaijan's application for "special guest" status in accordance with Recommendation 1247 (1994), which provided for the right of three South Caucasus states to apply for membership in the Council of Europe.
Azerbaijan was accepted as a member of the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) at its meeting held on 17-18 March 1996.
On 28 June 1996, the Parliament of the Republic of Azerbaijan obtained special guest status with the PACE.
On 13 July 1996, then President of the Republic of Azerbaijan H.E. Mr. Haydar Aliyev sent a letter to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe in which he expressed desire of Azerbaijan to become a full member of the Council of Europe and to join the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (European Convention on Human Rights).
On 11 September 1996, at the 573rd meeting of the Ministers' Deputies of the Committee of Ministers, Resolution (96) 32 was adopted, which implied the accession of Azerbaijan to the Council of Europe, the intensification of the negotiations with government bodies aiming at accelerating the democratization process in Azerbaijan and providing aid through partnership programs.
On 10-11 October 1997, H.E. Mr. Heydar Aliyev, then President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, attended the Second Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe held in Strasbourg.
On 20 January 1998, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan issued an Order “On measures to deepen cooperation between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Council of Europe».
On 10 February, 1998, upon the legislative initiative of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Milli Majlis (Parliament) of the Republic of Azerbaijan passed the law on the abolition of the death penalty. A de facto moratorium on the execution of the death penalty has been in place since 1993. This decision was one of the most important steps taken by the Republic of Azerbaijan to ensure fundamental human rights and freedoms.
On 16 August 1998, the censorship on the press was abolished in Azerbaijan.
On 14 May 1999, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan issued another Order "On measures to deepen cooperation between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Council of Europe and to protect the interests of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Europe".
On 28 June 2000, the PACE adopted a positive Opinion 222 (2000) on Azerbaijan’s application for membership of the Council of Europe. In the voting attended by 126 deputies, 120 people voted in favor, 1 against, and 5 abstained.
On 17 January, 2001, the Committee of Ministers adopted a final decision regarding the accession of Azerbaijan as a full member to the Council of Europe. Thus, on 25 January 2001, the flag of the Republic of Azerbaijan was raised before the Council of Europe headquarters in Strasbourg, in the presence of then President H.E. Mr. Haydar Aliyev, and the Republic of Azerbaijan became 43rd member of the Council of Europe.
The delegation of the Republic of Azerbaijan headed by H.E. Mr. Ilham Aliyev participated, for the first time as a full member, in the PACE plenary session on 24-27 April 2001.
On 15 April 2002, the Republic of Azerbaijan deposited the instrument of ratification of the European Convention on Human Rights and its Protocols. The Convention and its protocols thus entered into force in respect of Azerbaijan. From that day on, persons under the jurisdiction of Azerbaijan (citizens, stateless persons, legal persons, etc.) have a right to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (European Court).
Obligations of Azerbaijan as a Council of Europe member state
In early 2000, the PACE Political Affairs Committee sent to the Milli Majlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan a list of commitments to be fulfilled by Azerbaijan after its accession to the Council of Europe, and this document was signed by representatives of political parties represented in the Milli Majlis.
In its Opinion 222 (2000) the PACE took note of the letters from the President of Azerbaijan, the speaker of the parliament, the Prime Minister and the chairmen of the political parties represented in Parliament, and noted that Azerbaijan undertook to honour its respective commitments.
On 20 November 2000, the Committee of Ministers decided to establish a Monitoring Group (Ago Group) consisting of representatives of Latvia, the Netherlands, Romania, the Russian Federation, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and Germany under the chairmanship of the Permanent Representative of Italy to oversee the implementation of Azerbaijan's respective accession commitments. The group visited Azerbaijan several times during its term and produced relevant reports.
On 8 December 2010, the Committee of Ministers discussed the activities of the Ago Monitoring Group and, taking into account the achievements in the field of human rights protection and democratization in Azerbaijan, decided to discontinue the activities of Ago Group. Azerbaijan has eventually come under more simplified monitoring by the Group of Rapporteurs on Democracy (GR-DEM) of the Committee of Ministers.
Following the relevant decision adopted at the Ministerial Session of the Committee of Ministers held in May 2021 in Hamburg, the post-accession monitoring procedure conducted by GR-DEM, including with regard to Azerbaijan, was terminated.
Last update: 16.05.2022