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    COUNCIL OF EUROPE CHIEF TO DISCUSS AZERBAIJAN'S HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD WITH OFFICIALS IN BAKU

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    BAKU, APRIL 7, 2004, (RIA NOVOSTI - Walter Schwimmer, Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, has arrived in the Azeri capital of Baku for a two-day visit. Here, he will meet with senior government officials to discuss the implementation by Azerbaijan of the obligations it assumed prior to its CoE accession.

    Speaking to reporters about the issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan, Mr. Schwimmer described as an "important step" President Ilkham Aliyev's March decree granting pardon to 129 convicts. He also pointed out that Council of Europe observers would be closely watching the trials of participants in the disturbances of October 15 and 16, following presidential elections in the republic.

    Mr. Schwimmer is scheduled to meet with President Aliyev, Parliament Speaker Murtuz Aleskerov, Cabinet ministers, leaders of the Opposition, activists of public organizations, and CoE member nations' ambassadors to Azerbaijan.

    At his forthcoming Baku meetings, the Council of Europe Secretary-General will discuss, among other things, the development of cooperation between Azerbaijan and European countries and the settlement of disputes, notably the Azeri-Armenian conflict over the Nagorny Karabakh region (the OSCE has long been mediating in the conflict, but without much effect).

    Mr. Schwimmer is expected to appear before the students and the faculty of the University of Baku, as well as to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Council of Europe's new information office in Baku. He will also present here the Azeri version of his book "Der Traum Europa" ("The Dream of Europe").

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