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Azerbaijani people vote positively, says PACE delegation present at constitutional referendum

Baku, 19.03.2009 – Following the decision of the Azerbaijani authorities to organise a referendum on the amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Bureau of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) decided to send a delegation to be present[1] during this referendum.                                            

In this context, the delegation:
- recalls the decision of its Monitoring Committee to ask the Opinion of the Venice Commission, the Council of Europe’s group of independent legal experts, on the amendments to the Constitution to be approved by referendum;
- shares the view that it might have been better to take the Venice Commission’s Opinion into consideration before submitting the amendments to the vote;
- considers legitimate the use of a referendum, held according to the Constitution, for such important subjects. Meanwhile, the PACE delegation believes that more extensive discussion in the media would have better served the purpose of the referendum;
- shares the view of the Venice Commission that some amendments, undoubtedly, constitute important improvements to the Constitution and invites the Azerbaijani authorities to fully implement them;
- concludes that the result of the referendum shows the willingness of the people of Azerbaijan to have greater stability and elements for further democratisation, a better balance of power will nevertheless require further reforms in the future;
- notes that the vote, given the complexity of the referendum, was transparent, well organised and held in a peaceful atmosphere;
- calls for further improvement in the electoral process.

[1]. Members of the delegation:
Paul Wille (Belgium, ALDE), head of delegation
Pedro Agramunt (Spain, EPP/CD)
Eduard Lintner (Germany, EPP/CD)
Hakki Keskin (Germany, UEL)