- The First Deputy Speaker of Milli Majlis and the Chairman of the MM Committee on defence, security and fight against corruption, Ziyafat Asgarov, tabled the draft law on the “Armed Forces of the Republic of Azerbaijan”, which was adopted at the second reading on 15 December. Why did the necessity in adopting a new law arise, as we already have a law on “AF of RA”? What are you views on it? And what kind of changes were made into it?
- After the law on “Armed Forces of the Republic of Azerbaijan” was tabled at the Milli Majlis plenary meeting, some media outlets have wrongly interpreted various aspects of this law and unenlightened people offer various commentary. I would like to clarify certain issues.
First things first. The framework law of the Republic of Azerbaijan was amended based on the referendum of September 2016. We have amended discrepancies in the Constitution, as before the referendum the 9th Article of the Azerbaijani Constitution read that the Republic of Azerbaijan establishes its own Armed Forces and other armed formations in order to provide its defence and security. The same article states that the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan is the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. This wording suggested that armed forces entailed only types of troops, unions, formations and parts, subjected to the Ministry of Defence. These discrepancies were corrected through the adopted amendments into the framework law of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
The referendum produced a necessity of bringing other laws into compliance with the Constitution. Importantly, the old law on the Armed Forces was adopted back in 1991. It did not cover all aspects of the Armed Forces and did not correspond to the requirements of the modern day. This is why they made a rational and correct decision of preparing a new law, the draft of which is being discussed presently.
According to the draft bill, Azerbaijani Army and all other armed formations are united under the Armed Forces of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the President is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
I would also like to note that the law on Armed Forces is a framework law. Once this law is adopted, there will also be amendments introduced into the laws on “Azerbaijani Army”, “Interior Troops”, “State Border Control Bodies” and other armed formations, as while all these armed formations fulfil a common task, they also have special goals.
- Can you elaborate on what these are?
- If you carefully read Article 1 of this law, you can see that it clearly defines Armed Forces, Azerbaijani Army and other armed formations. And the definition of the Azerbaijani Army shows that it is an armed formation, which is the major component of the Armed Forces, and is responsible for repulsing acts of aggression, directed against the Republic of Azerbaijan, and armed defence of integrity and immunity of our territories. The Azerbaijani Army does not function as a guard of civil order and social security, as a guard of state borders, mobilization and induction, as an organizer of civil defence, provider of security of State Guard objects, etc.
All the above mentioned functions are carried out by other armed formation according to laws on these bodies. For example, the interior troops execute the tasks of guarding civil order and social security, the state border services carry the responsibility of guarding our state borders, etc.
However, we should not forget that during a war or military conflicts, the interior troops participate in the execution of the main task, have battle missions of repulsing acts of aggression or attacking potential adversaries. The bodies guarding state borders and other armed formation also have these missions.
Let’s all remember the First Karabakh War. When our country was in danger, all armed formations participated in protection of our motherland – the regiments of Interior Troops and Border Troops, squadrons and units of the Ministry of National Security and National Guard of the day.
Whereas, the overall control of the Armed forces and coordination of actions of the corresponding bodies of the executive branch are within the powers of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
- As the draft bill on “Armed Forces” was tabled at Milli Majlis, we heard an opinion that it as if imposes a bar for controlling the army by parliamentary and non-governmental organizations as well as for publications about the army by media outlets. How justified is this opinion?
- The Azerbaijani Army and other armed formations periodically hold open door days, when everybody, without any limitations, get the opportunity to get to know the conditions, created for military servicemen at military units, the organization of internal service, food and material support and other issues of interest. Moreover, we have numerous events at units and divisions jointly with people from the deployment areas, social organizations and people of art.
All the appeals and offers of military servicemen and members of their families are considered promptly, usually under the control of the administration of the Azerbaijani Army and other armed formations. The Ombudsman plays a very active part in this issue.
I would also like to note that a draft bill on public control is underway and it will regulate all the issues of public control over Armed Forces.
At the same time, I would very much like for all our citizens to be understanding towards this issue and not confuse public control with universal accessibility of all information about Armed Forces. Major part of the information about the Armed Forces is confidential and disclosing it will be beneficial only for our enemies.