On 18 April 2012, the European Parliament (EP) adopted two resolutions in the context of the negotiations for the new Association Agreements with Armenia and with Azerbaijan. European Friends of Armenia (www.EuFoA.org) hails that the EP prevailed its core values for the Eastern Partnership, especially on a continued democratisation and a balanced approach to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The report is particularly supportive for Armenia but also reminds of the remaining homework. Below we provide a summary of the most relevant points.
“The reports are very supportive and they also contain some new positive aspects for Armenia. The EP clearly acknowledges that Armenia has become more European and calls for more EU assistance for this process.” comments EuFoA Secretary General Dr Michael Kambeck.
On Nagorno-Karabakh, the EP strongly supports ALL points of the Minsk Group’s Madrid Principles as a package, including for the first time explicitly “international security guarantees that would include a genuine multinational peacekeeping operation in order to create suitable conditions for the future legally-binding free expression of will concerning the final status of Nagorno-Karabakh”. Referring to Nagorno-Karabakh, MEP Dr Andrey Kovatchev, member of the Europe-Armenia Advisory Council, said in the Plenary that “it can only be resolved by peaceful means within the framework of international law and in accordance with the principles agreed in the Minsk Group. The stronger role of the EU in the region requires us to be cautious and correct in our assessments so that we should not be like a ball in a china shop, and instead of helping to achieve a mutually acceptable solution to the conflict [we might] actually make it more difficult.” On the same issue, Kambeck remarks that “the EP again fully supports the OSCE Minsk Group efforts and defended this balanced position against an unprecedented lobbying campaign from Azerbaijan. I am glad that, once the MEPs looked into the issues more closely, they recognised the traps. Many MEPs felt that this was very inappropriate.”
EuFoA is an NGO working for good relations between the EU and Armenia and does not act against any country or stakeholder. Keeping this stance, we merely invite interested journalists and researchers to speak to MEPs and to acquire more information about this phenomenon. Further sources are provided below. Finally, we believe that attacking the Minsk Group or trying to single out one country’s favourite aspects of the proposed peace deal could never serve peace or the people of Azerbaijan. To allow for peace and the return of refugees and IDPs, the EP resolution now maintains that ALL aspects of the Minsk Group proposal should be implemented as a package, plus confidence building measures like the withdrawal of snipers, the installation of more observers and more humanitarian work in Karabakh. This approach is good for Armenia, for Azerbaijan and the entire region.
Inappropriate forms of Azerbaijani lobbying are increasingly being investigated by journalists around Europe:
“Azerbaijan Seeks to Burnish Image Ahead of Eurovision” (1 April 2012, http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,806769,00.html)
“Questions over MPs’ all-expense-paid trip to Azerbaijan” (29 August 2011, http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2011/08/29/questions-over-mps-all-expense-paid-trip-to-azerbaijan/)
“Lover and aide claims MP Mike Hancock urged lobby group to pay her” (18 November 2011, http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2011/11/18/mike-hancock-urged-lobby-group-to-pay-lover-aide-claims/)
“Tory MP on intelligence committee is paid by Azerbaijan lobby group” (5 October 2011, http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/oct/05/tory-mp-intelligence-committee-azerbaijan)
Excerpts of the European Parliament Resolution:
[Report by Tomasz Piotr Poreba, adopted on 18 April 2012, title “European Parliament’s recommendations to the Council, the Commission and the European External Action Service on the negotiations of the EU-Armenia Association Agreement”] The full report will soon be available on our website.
- recognises “Armenia’s European aspirations” and “Armenia’s ambitious reform agenda under the Eastern Partnership”
- calls to “provide adequate and better-targeted financial and technical assistance to Armenia in accordance with the ‘more for more’ principle”
- welcomes the “decision to open negotiations on the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA)”
- praises Armenia for “active participation in multilateral parliamentary cooperation in the framework of EURONEST, which provides a good example of commitment to European values and principles, the importance of which is acknowledged by a wide public consensus in Armenian society”
- calls on “all parties to fully engage in the multilateral cooperation track of the Eastern Partnership without linking it to the conflicts”, which is a reaction to Azerbaijan’s repeated attempts to block regional cooperation projects whenever Armenia participates.
- First and foremost, the EP strongly supports ALL points contained in the Madrid Principles proposed by the OSCE Minsk Group as a package, including for the first time explicitly “international security guarantees that would include a genuine multinational peacekeeping operation in order to create suitable conditions for the future legally-binding free expression of will concerning the final status of Nagorno-Karabakh”.
- Furthermore, the Association Agreement should be “consistent with the principles of international law, in particular with regard to those defined the Helsinki Final Act, namely the non-use of force, territorial integrity and right to self-determination”.
- The resolution highlights the importance of “credible commitments to making substantial progress towards the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, including general demilitarisation, the withdrawal of snipers from the line of contact, a mechanism for active incident-prevention and the investigation of cease-fire violations along the line of contact”. [Note: for the first time in an EP resolution.]
- It reminds “all parties that there can be no alternative to the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict; emphasises that any threat to use force undermines the joint efforts of the international community.”
- It also calls to “strengthen the European Union’s conflict-resolution and mediation capacity by stepping up its support for the Minsk Group’s efforts”, rejecting the initial wording on a replacement of France, as proposed following heavy Azerbaijani and Turkish lobbying. [EuFoA believes that a replacement of France would weaken the EU’s input and slow down the negotiations, as the complicated mediations would then require clear mandates from 27 EU member states at all times.]
- Finally, it expresses “support for humanitarian programmes in the conflict-affected areas, in particular landmine clearance activities”. [We hope that this message will help the UK-based Halo Trust landmine-cleaning NGO to continue its activities in NK, despite pressures from Azerbaijan to the contrary.]
- It is also worthy to mention that the European Parliament has urged “Azerbaijan not to hamper visa issues for third-country nationals of Armenian origin wishing to enter Azerbaijan, and to lift the ban on international phone calls to Armenia” in a parallel resolution on Azerbaijan adopted on the same day.
- The resolution calls for the “opening of the frontier without any preconditions” and emphasises “that it is unacceptable to have a continuously closed border between countries which aspire to membership of or association with the EU, and urges that this situation be brought to an end”.
EuFoA is happy to provide commentary or background analysis in English, German, French, Italian, Polish, Russian and Armenian. Members of the Europe-Armenia Advisory Council may also be available for comments; for enquiries please contact our secretariat.
For more information on EuFoA and the Europe-Armenia Advisory Council, please visit our website at www.EuFoA.org.
High resolution picture material is always available on our website and upon request. It is free to use with a reference “Copyright: www.EuFoA.org”.