The statement made by the representatives of the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton and European Commissioner Stefan Fule on Feb. 12 regarding the changes and additions to Azerbaijan's law on NGOs that envisages an increase in transparency in civil society, and the development of NGOs' and the legal framework existing in this area, has caused surprise and misunderstanding, Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry's spokesman Elman Abdullayev said on Thursday.
"Another interesting thing is - to what 'reliable' sources is the EU referring when making such statements," Abdullayev said.
He said that since the moment of its admission to the Council of Europe, Azerbaijan has fulfilled all its commitments, as well as developed and prepared legislation jointly with the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe.
The recent changes and amendments to the law on NGOs, adopted by the Milli Majlis (parliament) of Azerbaijan, were submitted for an extensive discussion with representatives of NGOs, the Milli Majlis, the Justice Ministry and international organizations, and the proposals put forward by civil society representatives were taken into account in the additions and amendments.
"The general conclusion was that the recent amendments, prepared on the basis of Azerbaijan's Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights, will serve only to enhance the transparency of civil society and develop the NGOs," Abdullayev said.
He stressed that Azerbaijan's legislation regulating the activities of NGOs and civil society activities, does not lag behind the EU legislation in this area, and on the contrary, according to many criteria has more democratic character than the legislation of European countries.
"Azerbaijan is implementing consistent measures for development of civil society and the active participation of its representatives in all spheres of public life and legislative activities. The law on public participation was adopted in November 2013. Based on the goals and objectives of the 'Azerbaijan 2020: vision for the future' concept, a five-year action plan was developed, which envisages the development of civil society," Abdullayev said. "The Council of Europe action plan for Azerbaijan, covering 2014-2016, envisages a separate section on development of civil society in Azerbaijan. The EU statement, not seeing and appreciating the measures undertaken for the development of NGOs and civil society in Azerbaijan and the achieved progress, shows a biased approach and attempts at political pressure".