Dennis Sammut: There Needs To Be More Clarity On The Part Of The EU

DENNIS SAMMUT: THERE NEEDS TO BE MORE CLARITY ON THE PART OF THE EU OF ITS POLICIES ON KARABAKH

ARMINFO
Tuesday, March 12, 19:16

“There needs to be more clarity on the part of the EU of its
policies on Karabakh. Even if the formal policy is to support a
peaceful solution mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group and based on the
Madrid principles there are nuances within this formula that the EU
needs to develop in order that its own values are better reflected”,
Dennis Sammut, Director of LINKS, said during the recent roundtable
“Azerbaijan and the EU: The road ahead” at the European Policy Centre
in Brussels.

He said that Europe remains a fashionable and popular brand in
Azerbaijan, especially amongst the young educated elites both those
supporting the government and those opposing it. “On the official
side however there is hesitation because what Europe is asking for
in terms of reforms, especially in the democracy sphere is deemed too
high a price to pay. Azerbaijan is failing to understand that it faces
a massive crisis of trust in the area of democracy and human rights
and that it needs to act on this swiftly and decisively”, he said.

Dennis Sammut proposed ten action points on which Europe needs to work:

(a) EU should not assume that the Azerbaijani government and people
understand why relations with it is good for them. There is a need
for more political engagement at various levels and for the EU to
sharpen its communication strategy towards the country;

(b) The EU’s red lines on democracy and human rights need to be spelled
out clearly and consistently. European politicians who distort this
message by saying or implying that these issues are secondary to
other things, such as energy co-operation need to be challenged openly;

(c) there needs to be more clarity on the part of the EU of its
policies on Karabakh. Even if the formal policy is to support a
peaceful solution mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group and based on the
Madrid principles there are nuances within this formula that the EU
needs to develop in order that its own values are better reflected;

(d) the importance of Azerbaijan for EU energy security needs to be
based on realistic assessments and not on bloated assumptions and
Baku should be encouraged not to overplay its hand;

(e) The EU should support political dialogue not political
confrontation in Azerbaijan. To be able to do this it itself must
engage in proper dialogue with opposition forces, including those
outside parliament;

(f) The EU should avoid letting the next Presidential election become a
crisis point in its relations with Azerbaijan. The discussions with the
Azerbaijani government needs to start now because there are some very
clear things that the Azerbaijani government needs to do before the
election if this process is to have any credibility. The EU should use
its clout in the OSCE and the Council of Europe in this regard to the
point where if a credible election is not likely the process should
not be legitimised with the deployment of an Observation Mission,
which would in any case be waste of time and money;

(g) opposition activists in Azerbaijan need to be told clearly that we
support their right to speak and protest but that does not necessarily
mean we support what they are saying. These are two different issues.

Human rights is the concern of all but domestic politics is the
business of the Azerbaijani people.

(h) The EU should pursue a policy of privileged engagement with those
sectors of the Azerbaijani government and society that have benefitted
from reform in order to consolidate islands of reform.

(i) the EU must remain sensitive to the fact Azerbaijan is located
in EU and Turkey on Azerbaijan can be useful; and

(j) there is a need for sober dialogue not for bombastic meetings
glorifying Azerbaijan as some model modern country or conversely
demonising it as a North Korean style dictatorship. Dennis Sammut said
that the reality is that in its domestic, as much as in its external
politics Azerbaijan is at the crossroads and that the efforts of the
EU institutions, governments and civil society need to be channelled
at helping the Azerbaijani government and people make the right choice
for them and future generations.

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