APA's interview with Ali Hasanov, Assistant to the President for Public and Political Affairs
- How do you assess the actions of the National Council during the October 19 rally?
- The organizers of the action were very unconstructive, ignoring the laws and demands of the law enforcement agencies and persistently trying to hold an unsanctioned protest in the crowded place of the city. In short, they have challenged the law enforcement officers. The Baku City Executive Power considering their desire to hold a rally has given them appropriate area. Earlier, some Azerbaijani political parties also held a rally in the same place. There are all conditions for rallies in this square. But, unfortunately, the organization calling themselves the National Council and the Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan, the leaders of these organizations, chose a non-constructive way and deliberately confront the authorities. The rhythmic life of about 200,000 people in Baku, especially around the May 28 subway station, was broken. Access to transportation, including the subway was restricted, and the functioning of all trading facilities, businesses, institutions and schools around the square were disturbed. They created enough problems for the population to move, and they deliberately confronted law enforcement agencies to create confrontational mood in the Azerbaijani society as a whole. Every civilized state prioritizes its development, the security of its citizens, the security of the state and its cities. When it is necessary, law enforcement officers use any method to protect, restore or take legal and physical measures against any who wish to violate the law. This is the same in all countries of the world. Accordingly, the same process was implemented in Azerbaijan.
- Some international organizations have already reacted to the rally attempt. What is your opinion on their reaction?
We have established our state not for international organizations, but for Azerbaijani citizens. The main task of the Azerbaijani authorities is to report to the people of Azerbaijan who vote for him, form the government, elect the head of the government, parliament, and demand their security, stability, and other issues. Cooperation with international organizations, relations with our foreign partners, as well as with countries in the region - all these are important for us within the interests of the Azerbaijani state and people. Therefore, the attitude of any international organization to these issues is taken into account by the Azerbaijani authorities, their calls and recommendations are studied, evaluated accordingly, and taken into account in our activities. But we have not done more than in all countries. The Azerbaijani police have not acted more than the measures taken against the illegal actions in centers of Europe, Paris, Amsterdam, Madrid and Barcelona. The actions of the Azerbaijani police were fully adequate to the actions of those who wanted to enter the streets and squares, violate the rhythmic life of the citizens, the traffic, and the security of the city. The measures taken by the police were only aimed at preventing them. The police did not pursue them ... The police prevented an attempt to hold a rally in an uncoordinated area, did not allow people entering there and inviting people who were trying to get there, and trying to create a confrontation with the police to public order and took the necessary legal measures, taking the disobedient to the (police) departments with the appropriate means of transport. So there is nothing wrong here.
- One of the most discussed issues is the behavior of the police during the rally. There is no unambiguous view in the social networks about the behavior of police officers against protesters and non-protesters. We would love to know what you think about it ...
-I think that the behavior of the police was fully adequate, sufficiently determined, regulated and ensured under the law. Therefore, it is wrong to blame the police here. Of course, there are some who might not like situations in police officers’ behavior. But if you don't want to clash with the police or get into a confrontation, you have to obey the law. Steps can be taken against people who do not comply with the law in any legal framework, particularly in terms of security. Police actions are adequate to the actions of the people there. You know, different people react in social networks. Among them are, of course, healthy, adequate, educated people who express the opinion of the country's citizens. There are also people who work around the people who do the action and create a background for them. The more people in the world, the more ideas and judgments there are. But the footage shows that the Azerbaijani police acted adequately and prevented violations of the law in the manner required by law. I think there is no need for two meaningful comments. Azerbaijani police have done what is needed.
- After being released, Ali Kerimli, made a statement in connection with certain torture. In addition, there are allegations that Tofig Yagublu, Rufat Safarov and others detained in the action underwent pressure. How do you feel about these claims? Are law enforcement agencies investigating this?
- I think that law enforcement agencies will respond to these statements, are conducting and will conduct investigations and will release relevant information. I have not witnessed any harassment and persecution at the place where they were detained. The actions taken by the police to prevent their actions were in the public eye. At first, they were invited to follow the rules and, of course, when they were not in obedience demonstrating persistent behavior in order to enter into the square, the police were required to isolate them taking to relevant departments (police) and give a legal assessment to their actions. I am convinced that the police act was not inadequate or illegal during their isolation.
- What will be the attitude to the opposition’s demands to hold rally in the center of Baku? Were there discussions on this issue?
- As a government, we will not allow any opposition party, movement, organization to act in violation of the law and hold unsanctioned actions. We will not violate their rights under the law. That is, we as the authorities will respond appropriately to all appeals, the legal requirements will be met, and the authorities will create conditions for people to hold rallies, exchange views with their supporters. However, their attempts to realize their ambitions on power and law have been prevented and will be removed. The Azerbaijani authorities have the power, ability and will to control the situation. No one should try to discourage the authority out of their will. Because this is impossible.
- After the October 19 rally, there were calls for unrest over social networks and violence against government officials. Are law enforcement agencies investigating these calls, and are any measures taken against those calling?
- This is not the first case. For a long time, a number of anti-national elements of the radical opposition have found themselves in the nests in foreign countries, under the obligation of foreign bodies, carry out anti-Azerbaijani activities, call for terrorism, terrorist attacks on government officials, and the overthrow of legitimate power. All of these, of course, are registered by the law enforcement agencies of Azerbaijan. As soon as they enter the legal space of Azerbaijan, and at the same time, the Azerbaijani law enforcement agencies are able to bring them to our country, a legal assessment are given to their actions. The Azerbaijani government and law enforcement agencies cannot ignore such calls. From time to time, people who gave up these acts were treated appropriately, and those who has not given up will answer to the law. I am sure that they will not be able to avoid the law.
- Recent events have again raised the relevance of the power-opposition dialogue. Is the government expected to initiate such a dialogue?
- We have always been open to dialogue. In the days of national leader Heydar Aliyev, we have often joined opposition parties - right-wing, left-wing, radicals, and non-radicals. We discussed with them electoral issues, internal politics, reforms, and the Nagorno-Karabakh problem, which is a serious problem for Azerbaijan. From time to time, their rational suggestions have been summarized and implemented by us. But lately, a group of opposition groups, including organizations that want to carry out the October 19 rally, have always shown a destructive, radical position. Our efforts with parties, dialogue, roundtables and discussions with such forces have always had negative consequences. They have abandoned this dialogue, exhibiting a non-constructive attitude and continuing their radical line and policies. With these people, we find it difficult to restore dialogue in some form. But the Azerbaijani authorities are always open to dialogue with other political and public organizations. We call on the citizens of Azerbaijan, who are concentrated around those radical forces, and if you have a problem with this government and the government, let's discuss these problems and explore the root of the problem. We, as the authorities, are ready and willing to listen to every citizen of Azerbaijan. Therefore, we expect the healthy Azerbaijani opposition to respond to these destructive forces and expose their destructive activities. Our expectation is that the new generation, especially the well-educated youth, will continue to exhibit adequate attitude to such opposition, as they have so far exhibited. They will try to remove these people from party leadership and bring new, more constructive, forward looking people who are ready to take care of the state and the nation.
- President Ilham Aliyev spoke at a recent media briefing about the clash between officials and warned officials who want to prevent reform. Who did the head of state mean?
- It is impossible to name a specific name here. On the other hand, Mr. President knows which officials are attempting to impede the President's course of reform, secretly sabotaging it. Of course, Mr. President knows this, and as soon as it happens, these people will be punished. The course of reforms initiated by the President has been in the country for more than a year, and in the real sense of the word, has shown its results. Social, entrepreneurial, agrarian and economic reforms, tax policy, the policy implemented by the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of Population, to bring it into line with modern world standards, improve the system of assistance to low-income families and so on very serious work has been done in the fields. As a result of the reforms, budget revenues increased. Of course, there are also companies and company executives who are concerned about their material interests. Some of our officials are close to the business, and the people around them are engaged in commerce, and sometimes there is some resistance to the tax system in commercial structures. Media reports about it regularly. Mr President urges these companies not to sabotage the government's reform course. The political will of the state is obvious. Nobody can stop it. If they are found, they will be punished. Sometimes they use the press to fight. Some sites, especially racketeering sites, publish specific information about different people, including reforming agencies. Against such circumstances, the President and the government of Azerbaijan have a serious will. As a result of this will, negative consequences of this type will soon be eliminated.