Ilham Aliyev: We cannot restrict freedom of speech

Tuesday, June 24 at the PACE session in Strasbourg was the head of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. His performance was due to the fact that Azerbaijan joined the chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.

Anticipating performance by Aliyev, president of PACE An Brasseur recalled speech by Ilham Aliyev at the PACE 2004, when he spoke of the need to respect democracy and human rights reforms. “Without democracy and transparency, there is no development,” Brasseur quoted Aliyev, adding: “I hope you think so now and will act in accordance with the foregoing.” She recalled that she asked to be granted the opportunity to visit some arrested journalists and activists. “We have discussed these issues in Baku with you here today, and I hope that this opportunity will be provided to us,” she said.

Beginning his speech, the head of Azerbaijan was interrupted by the chairman, who asked the photographers not to interfere with the deputies listening to Aliyev and asked those present not to throw replicas during the performance.

In turn, Ilham Aliyev did not conceal displeasure at the interruption and commented ironically on this occasion.

He further said that he remembers well his performance in 2004 and Azerbaijan “has carried out all its obligations to the Council of Europe.”

“We do this not because we are obliged to do so, but because it is necessary for ourselves. We have provided all the freedoms, including freedom of speech, expression, religion, assembly, etc. We cannot restrict freedom of speech, we encourage it,” said Aliyev.

He further stressed that the government is interested in the development of the Internet and invests large sums in this area.

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