Estonian deputy speaker: Azerbaijan moving firmly towards European Union

19. juuni 2008

"Azerbaijan's road leads to the European Union," Ojuland said. "Estonia supports Azerbaijan in achieving that aim in every way possible. We are stronger together. We are more successful together."

Ojuland congratulated leaders of Azerbaijan on the creation of an independent state and the 90 anniversary of its parliament, Milli Medjlis.

"We, Estonians, well understand the feelings of the people of Azerbaijan because also the Republic of Estonia was established 90 years ago, and being a newly established state became one the first countries to start recognizing the independence of Azerbaijan," she added.

The nationalist Mussavat Party, which unsucessfully attempted to organize an uprising against Soviet power already in March 1918, declared the independence of Azerbaijan on May 28 that year in Tbilisi and formed a government that entered Azerbaijan's territory in June.

In cooperation with British and Turkish forces the Red Army was chased out of the country. The state persisted until April 1920 when the Red Army once again overran the whole of Azerbaijan.

Ojuland underlined Azerbaijan's achievements in economy.

"Like Baku was one of the world's fastest developing regions at the beginning of the 20th century, being on its way to becoming an influential international center, so also at the beginning of the 21st century independent Azerbaijan boasts of one of the fasted economic growth rates in the post-Communist world," she said.

Ojuland has scheduled meetings with Azerbaijan's leaders, representatives of local governments and educational circles. Issues of energy security and economic relations between Estonia and Azerbaijan will be discussed with leaders of the state.

In Europe, there are two different attitudes to Azerbaijan. On the one hand closer relations with that oil and gas rich country oil and gas are supported, while on the other hand there is dissatisfaction with much of what is taking place in the country.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe should pass a report on the situation in that country at the end of June. One of the authors of the report is member of the Estonian parliament Andres Herkel, who condemned harassament of freedonm of the press at a press conference given in Baku at the end of May.

Herkel said that together with the other rapporteur, Yevghenia Zhivkova from Bulgaria, he had come to the conclusion that the indictments of the imprisoned journalists Einulla Fatullajev, Ganimat Zahidova ja Sakit Zahidov were are crudely fabricated.

The report also pertains to electoral law and other aspects that came into the circle of interest of the Council of Europe.