EU’s association agreements with Azerbaijan and Armenia should make the region safer


The association agreements the EU is negotiating with Armenia and Azerbaijan should make the region safer, both by promoting a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and by making EU support conditional upon democratic reforms and respect for human rights in both countries, said two European Parliament resolutions adopted on 18 April.
The resolutions, with recommendations to the Council and the Commission on what lines to take when negotiating association agreements with Armenia and Azerbaijan, were approved by the majority of MEPs (the EU-Azerbaijan resolution with 520 votes in favour, 32 against and 24 abstentions;  the EU-Armenia one with 508 in favour, 29 against and 27 abstentions).
MEPs praised Armenia's reform ambitions and energy cooperation with Azerbaijan, but warned against human rights breaches, namely in connection to the 2012 Eurovision song contest in Baku (eviction and resettlement of the local population to make way for construction work for the song contest). They also stressed the need to ensure that the forthcoming parliamentary elections in Armenia are free and fair.
The European Parliament called on both countries to step up efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The resolutions condemned the region's militarisation, called on EU Member States to stop supplying weapons and munitions to both countries and urged the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan “to tone down the language of their statements to pave the way for a genuine dialogue.
The EU should strive to contribute to stability in the region, MEPs stressed, for example by focusing on youth exchange and academic mobility to promote confidence building during the negotiations on visa facilitation and readmission agreements.
The Azerbaijan resolution's rapporteur Anneli Jäätteenmäki stressed that energy cooperation, although important, could not develop if peoples' rights were not taken into account. "We have to admit great shortcomings in this regard in Azerbaijan. People are being arrested and homes searched. However, this does not mean that the Eurovision Song Contest should be boycotted. If we want a deeper cooperation with Azerbaijan, why then boycott Eurovision song contest?” she said.
Armenia’s parliamentary elections of 6 May will be a test of its determination to have good relations with the EU, said rapporteur Tomasz Piotr Poręba, adding that free and fair elections would demonstrate that Armenia sticks to its commitments in a serious way.
The resolution noted that in Armenia's previous elections, people were killed in police attempts to prevent an opposition demonstration and urged Armenia to complete a "transparent and impartial investigation of the events of 1 March 2008".(ENPI Info Centre)
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Press release
ENPI Info Centre webpage - Armenia
ENPI Info Centre webpage - Azerbaijan


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