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Reason Given By Herkel For Silencing Azerbaijan During PACE Session Dismissed As "Beyond Reality"

BAKU, Azerbaijan, March 25, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

The explanation provided by Andres Herkel for interrupting and then barring an Azerbaijani delegate from speaking while addressing the Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) last week, was dismissed as "beyond reality."

Elkhan Suleymanov was silenced by Herkel, the Chairman of the PACE Monitoring Committee, when discussing the return to power of Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, calling the recent election "illegitimate" due to Sargsyan's links to the massacre in the Azerbaijani town of Khojali on February 26 th, 1992, and because of Armenia's continued occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh that has displaced one million Azerbaijanis.

In an interview with the news agency Turan, Herkel explained that he interrupted the speech of Suleymanov not because of the content but to observe the regulations. Herkel claims that only two minutes were left till the end of the meeting, yet four speakers remained, including Suleymanov.

"I asked him to conclude within two minutes," Herkel said, adding, "He couldn't complete his speech and, as a chairperson, I had to stop him."

Suleymanov rejected the excuse, saying, "The information by Mr. Herkel regarding the incident at the meeting of the PACE Monitoring Committee of 20 th March is beyond reality."

He pointed out that Herkel first interrupted him at a minute and 40 seconds into his speech and again at two minutes, when Suleymanov informed Committee members about Sargsyan's acknowledged participation in the Khojali massacre.

He stressed that he had provided Herkel and the Committee Secretariat with his speech three days before the event and noted that only little time was allocated to speakers on the subject of presidential elections in Armenia, while other delegates were allowed to speak for up to 40 minutes on other issues.

"Interestingly, Mr. Herkel did not limit me to speak for 15 minutes during the discussion of the 'recent situation in Azerbaijan' at the same meeting. I thank him for this. Then why does he interrupt my speech on Armenia under the pretext of regulations?"

Suleymanov concluded that the incident at the Committee meeting was not a coincidence, instead aimed at concealing the failure of the Armenian elections to meet the principles of democracy and the rule of law.

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