The Plenary Session of the European Parliament on 18 April adopted two resolutions that lay down the political framework in which the European Union will conduct negotiations with Armenia and Azerbaijan on their future relations with the EU.
The two resolutions have been generally welcomed in both countries. In an interview with the Azerbaijani news portal 1news.az, LINKS Director Dennis Sammut summed the resolutions up in three words “support, disappointment and concern”, adding
“The resolutions outline clear support from Europe to the two countries, to their future integration in the European family, to their progress, and to their prosperity. Armenia and Azerbaijan are not foreign far away countries. They are European countries that are not yet integrated fully in the European system. The European Parliament has fully endorsed the process through which they can be brought closer, the first step being the Association Agreements. The resolutions also reflect a sense of disappointment that is felt not only in the European Parliament, but widely across Europe, that the process of political reform in Armenia and Azerbaijan has moved too slowly, and sometimes things happen that make people wonder if things are getting worse not better. Europe is not an a-la-carte menu. If Armenia and Azerbaijan want closer relations they must understand that they need to show this not superficially, but by embracing seriously European values on human rights and basic freedoms. Thirdly, the resolutions also show concern about the prospect of further war in the region, and that is why the issue of a resolution of the Karabakh conflict is linked to the whole process of engagement with the EU.”
Dennis Sammut added that the resolutions are more than just principles:
“I think the resolutions are more than principles. They are a road map. The message to the two governments is clear. Stop pretending you want close relations with the European Union and start acting like countries that want good relations with the European Union. The resolutions declare how this can be done. You cannot pick and choose. All the issues raised in the resolutions are important. And make no mistake about it, these resolutions reflect a view that is now very widespread in Europe. It will be difficult for EU bureaucrats to ignore these resolutions, and the governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan should not do so either.”
For the first time the resolutions create a linkage between the resolution of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan on Nagorno-Karabakh and future relations with the EU. Dennis Sammut sees this as a positive trend:
“The Karabakh problem is so difficult to resolve because it is made up of both a real and an imagined content. The real problems we all know about – the refugees and displaced persons, the issue of occupied territories, the rights of the Armenian majority in Karabakh etc. There is also an imagined content of national pride and identity, the baggage of hundreds of years of history and other non-tangible issues. I think that if Armenia and Azerbaijan embrace the European context these issues will be easier to understand and deal with, and that will make resolving the more real issues easier.”
The resolution of the European Parliament on future relations with Armenia is available here.
The resolution of the European parliament on relations with Azerbaijan is available here
The interview of Dennis Sammut with 1news.az (in Russian) is available here.
source: LINKS Analysis