Azerbaijan’s Government Attacks European Principles of Parliamentarism

Illustrated with a charismatic picture of an Azerbaijani civil servant, the Azerbaijan press agency APA reported on 22.2.2017 on a new case for them. Plese see the original text of this press agency release here:


Prosecutor General’s Office: „A criminal case was launched against members of the European Parliament“

Azerbaijan has announced an international arrest warrant for European Parliament members (EP) Frank Engel (Luxembourg), Eleni Teoharus (Cyprus) and Jaromir Stetin (Czech Republic) for the monitoring of the „referendum“ in Nagorno Karabakh, spokesperson of the Prosecutor General’s Office Eldar Sultanov told APA.

Azerbaijani General Prosecutor’s Office instituted criminal proceedings against the foreigners who have committed an illegal visit the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, also sent a corresponding request to Interpol for their announcement on the international wanted list, said on Wednesday the press service of the Prosecutor General.

“A criminal case has been launched against the members of the European Parliament under the relevant articles of the Criminal Code for repeated illegal visit to the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, in particular, on suspicion of illegal visit to Nagorno Karabakh to participate in the so-called “referendum” as the “observers” on February 20,” Prosecutor General’s Office said in a statement.

In addition, the accused European parliamentarians charged for conducting propaganda of seperatist entity called „Nagorno Karabakh Republic“, illegal participation in the activities organized in those territories, and presenting illegal entity in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan as an independent republic.

“The court decided to arrest F.Engel, E.Teoharus and J. Stetin and they have been declared internationally wanted through Interpol,” the report says.

This constitutes an incredible attack on European parliamentarism. Three Members of European Parliament went as observers to a referendum. There were around 100 international observers at the constitutional referendum in Nagtrono-Karabakh from 20.2.2017, according to the result of the referendum now called Artsakh, which should regulate the circumstances how the people there live in the future. Artsakh is not recognised by any other country, but it works together with institutions all over the world (like e.g. Kosovo  in a phase of its history) and, in a strong contrast to Azerbaijan itself, it can be considered to be, in grosso modo, a democratic community, which in the region maight be topped only by Georgia. This is a positive sign, but for the Azerbaijan government it seems to be a bad sign: They do not let their people live in a freedom like it is the case in the disputed territory of Artsakh. There no state harrassment is known to bloggers, critical journalists, opposition members etc., as it is the case in Azerbaijan, who even has managed institutions in the EU to have compiled a list of their political prisoners. Azerbaijan, after all, is not only the most corrupt regime among the Council of Europe Member States, but it is also the most repressive, where it seems to have doubled now Belarus. Only their brother state Turkey has has imprsoned more journalists at present, but it has also more than 10 x the population.

What can the EU do?

The three arrtest warrants are, of course, ridiculous. They also include that the accused European parliamentarians [are] charged for conducting propaganda of seperatist entity called „Nagorno Karabakh Republic“. This is a propaganda notion like e.g. in Turkey  „terrorism“ is used for opposition members, or as it was used in Soviet times, but definitely not in an open society. And it should be reminded that OSCE was compelled to cancel their own observer mission for the Azeri parliamentary elections in autumn 2015 (see also

The warrants might be enforced by states who „just want to do a favour“ towards Azerbaijan. Belarus did so some weeks ago in the case of the Russian-Israeli blogger Lapchin who was extradited to Azerbaijan (…just to have some conversations with the police…“). This would be an incredible violation of free parliamentarism. Any European parliamentarian, and not only in the EU parliament, has the right to observe whatever  election or vote may be held anywhere in the world, if he was invited (which was the case). I have to add, also if not. To observe an election or a general vote like a referendum is a good tradition among democracies or not-so-advanced democracies, anyway it is a good sign for popular vote and people’s power. That this is attacked under the pretexts used by the Azeri government is an incredible attack on free parliamentarism. This should be solved under political auspices only, by discussions, debates, parliamentary actions. The fact that Azerbaijan reduced their actions to criminal procedures shows only the nervousness of a regime who cold not do anything – due to their commitment to gas and oil extracrtion only and a lack of economic diversification – against an economic and monetary downturn, and who did not really manage to overcome the disparities between the capital and rural  areas. Instead of this, it buys arms by the billions (euros) from Russia and exercises regularly a belligerous language aganist their neighbour. It is the European country with the worst state branding policy, with a too transparant „caviar diplomacy“ and corruption towards third countries as well – see the present investigation in the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly member Volonté who is under suspicion to have got 2,4 mill. euro from Azerbaijan sources.

The EU could – and should – after all, besides a clear resolution by the European Parliament, first suspend all talks with the Azeri government until the arrest warrants would be withdrawn formally.

If necessary, it can approach all third country governments and ask them whether they will follow to implement this international arrest warrant by Azerbaijan. This should be confirmed by any other government, as it is not clear if legal procedures will be correct in some of these states – see the extradition of Lapchin from Belarus. This should be launched in an official diplomatic note. It is a chance to enhance EU common foreign policy – and also European parliamentarism, which cannot be forced to meet the level of what is consicdered as parliamentarism by Azerbaijan.

Hans-Jürgen Zahorka

Chief Editor, European Union Foreign Affairs Journal



CoE Venice Commission criticizes intended changes to Azeri constitution in referendum on 26.9.2016

A preliminary opinion by the Council of Europe’s constitutional law experts, (the Venice Commission) criticizes draft modifications to the constitution of Azerbaijan, which will be put to a national referendum on Monday 26 September. Many proposed amendments would severely upset the balance of power by giving “unprecedented” powers to the President (in this case Ilham Aliev), according to the Venice Commission opinion.

For example, the extension of the presidential mandate from five to seven years “cannot be justified” given the already very strong position of the President, who since 2009 can be re-elected without term limits.

Another reform gives the President power to dissolve parliament, which does not only make political dissent in parliament “largely ineffective”, according to the opinion, but also affects the independence of the judiciary, since parliament’s role in the approval of judges will be reduced.

The Venice Commission experts were “particularly worried” by the introduction of the figure of unelected Vice-Presidents, who may at some moment govern the country, and the President’s prerogative to declare early presidential elections at his convenience. There are many rumours in Baku that Ilham Aliev will install his wife as Vice President.

The opinion also criticizes the procedure of the referendum as having lacked proper debate in parliament and having been carried out too quickly and without real public discussion beforehand.

Indeed, due to time constraints, the Council of Europe opinion rapporteurs themselves were unable to visit Azerbaijan and did not benefit from direct consultations with the authorities, experts and other stakeholders. In this context, the Venice Commission regrets that the authorities of Azerbaijan did not consult it prior to submitting the draft to the referendum.

The experts praised proposed amendments in the human rights chapter of the Azeri constitution, such as the introduction of the concept of „human dignity“ and of the right to “conscientious treatment excluding arbitrariness” by state bodies and of certain procedural rights. They also praised the proposal to elevate the “principle of proportionality” to the constitutional level, which means that every restriction to human rights should be proportionate to the aim the state seeks to achieve.

However, the experts expressed reservations with other proposed changes in the human rights chapter, in particular one which provides for limitations to public gatherings for the sake of „public order“ and “morality”, since this provision risks to be too broadly interpreted. The opinion also is concerned about a proposed provision on withdrawing citizenship that “reduces the scope of the current guarantee” that prevents withdrawal of citizenship in absolute terms.


Russia and the Eurasian Union: Mission Impossible?

By Hans-Jürgen Zahorka
Chief Editor, European Union Foreign Affairs Journal (EUFAJ)

The Russian president Putin may be a political chess player, but he will fail at the very end. He wants to restore glory for his country, and therefore he undertakes a lot:
– blaming the Americans and the Europeans for anything which does not function in his country, including a growing authoritarianism and repression of non-violent opposition, including as well the stigmatisation as „foreign agents“ of any non-governmental organisation which has contacts abroad (and all open-thinking NGOs have them), and following a media policy which is absurd and where critical journalists often have to pay with their lives and health,
– gathering a lot of compliments from most of his compatriots after the conquest of Crimea, and the intended destabilisation of Eastern Ukraine – and in both cases the troops there turned out to be Russian ones, although this has been denied by Putin, who did not say the truth to the world.

This is why Russia is now isolated more than ever. Even China did not veto the trend of a discussion in the UN Security Council on 12.4.2014.

All the efforts by Putin go in this mentioned direction. It is to be crowned by the project of the „Eurasian Union“ which is to see the light of the world in 2015. Since his article in Izvestiya some years ago, it is evident that this Eurasian Union should become a kind of counterpart to the EU. No problem with this; the EU is very much in favour of regional integration in the world. And nobody in the EU or elsewhere would have anything against the Eurasian Union. However, this Project is not about economic or political Integration only. It will never be possible as an integration in the worldwide sense, alone as the EU has been a totally voluntary integration. The same for all other integrations in the world. The Eurasian Union, however, is definitely not: its predecessor and economic centerpiece, the Eurasian Customs Union is going bonkers — even if this is not seen by the protagonists. Consisting of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan (all three beacons of democracy and human rights, as everybody knows), a lot of transborder operations go better with the help of corruption. I don’t want to mention the ranking in the Corruption Perception Index, as everybody also in Russia knows that there is still a lot of corruption in the administration. The customs tariffs are three times as high, on an average, as the import tariffs for new member countries: Armenia has either to raise its customs considerably, or get several hundred of exemptions, which makes a customs union ridiculous. Normally a customs union in economic history has always served to decrease customs, and not to increase! The Armenian government has been squeezed – under which circumstances ever – to welcome this and to tell its people that this would be a success. At the same time, newspapers write at the same page of many possible insolvencies of various sectors and drop-outs, which will lead to a continuation of the Armenian nightmare, the brain-drain by emigration. Every integration – see e.g. the accession of Spain, Portugal, Greece as well as Central and Eastern Europe to the EU – has led so far to a short to medium-term re-integration of former emigrants.

The biggest problem for Russia is her relations with Ukraine. Here every possible Eurasian Union member state can see at first hand, how they can be treated. No chance to hope that this can be changed: Russia has in all Eurasian structures since many years the absolute majority of votes. No way with a qualified majority, which in the EU can easily serve as an instrument of balancing the interests and of creating a compromise.

The result of the Crimea action has been to suspend Russia’s voting rights in the Council of Europe and to be subject of a negative assessment by the UN Assembly.

And nobody will invest at present in Russia, if he is mentally normal (except some big operators who are of strategic interest for Russia): The Moscow government had declared that it might confiscate foreign investmnt. This is against all rules, the rule of law, the rule of any international economy and above all the interests of Russia herself. Every small and medium enterprise will refrain from investing – and this in an era of positive globalization. Only a former KGB chief who never saw a company from inside can ride on such a wave. Russia is also dependent of its raw material and energy sales. The EU, including Germany, as main client are working since a while to diversify their purchases, a step which is getting momentum, and of developing alternative energy.

As the present macroeconomic trends indicate, Russia’s economy goes slowly but safely down, like the ruble currency, thus problemizing all foreign purchases which will be necessary also for domestic investment.

There are some people – like the author of these lines – who remember the hospitality, the fine humour, the philosophical discussions even with non-philosophers, the great nature, the food, the interesting history, the excellent education of Russian people. Their economy could become more and more efficient, corruption could go down, a numerous middle-class could emerge, Russians (all, not some) would go for holidays to the EU and worldwide, and will not flee their country, NGOs could form a vital civil society, art and music could thrive, and all problems could be discussed – why not controversially – and then solved in a free parliamentary vote. And the parliaments are correctly elected, and why not letting all parties admitted for this? Towards the outside, Russia could have excellent relations with its neighbours, with the EU (there are many years homework on what has been proposed and not done, like a free trade agreement etc.), with NATO, just to name some. In such a climate, NATO could become a historical structure – maybe with Russia as a member.

Instead of this, the former KGB chief in the Kremlin does not refrain from lying to the world, from attacking Crimea (at least. until tonight, 14.4.2014), and arresting many people who demonstrate against this in Moscow these days.

It is, simply speaking, ga-ga that at the beginning of the 21st century Russia, while all the others, or most of them, try to cooperate, falls back into the 19th century. If these ideas cannot convince the people (who should not behave like a flock of sheep), they feel a minority complex, manipulate the media and threaten other countries with tanks at their borders. They also are misled by this foreign activity from domestic and grave deficits. With this, the Eurasian Union will never function. It might be launched, but it will be a sick structure from the beginning – like many others who have been launched after 2001 in the former Soviet Union. There are brillant heads e.g. in the Eurasian Development Bank which is a kind of think-tank for regional integration and where many concepts for economic integration have been conceived. But in their concepts you do not read anything about the necessity of a free will of the member states to follow this integration. What their people have, the Russian government has not: sovereignty. The sovereignty to live and to let live. You should take it easy, Vladimir Vladimirowich. If you would, your people would also. But I have lost any hope that this is possible under your reign, although I am an eternal optimist. So drive your country to the beton wall, including following countries. Like the system of the USSR, this „Soviet 2.0“ system, although not under Communist auspices, will be rejected by a majority of People involved when they see the middle and Long-term results – first in the partner countries, then in Russia. By educated, young people who will see how dysfunctional their own system will be, also due to their Facebook and Twitter accounts and the Internet in general. Like the integration of the USSR, of Yugoslavia which both burst in bubbles. The result will always be smaller than the original. Because of this, perhaps for the sake of its own corruption?, the Moscow government will end up similarly, in the most positive way with four or five former and present European CIS countries in or near the EU, and Central Asia may later form a kind of integration themselves. It would, after all, need another and sympathetic leader in Moscow (not only to most of the Russians but also to the world) to break up this isolation and inefficiency.

Lessons from Ukraine’s Maidan for the Eastern Partnership Countries

By Hans-Jürgen Zahorka
Chief Editor, European Union Foreign Affairs Journal

Today night, Saturday, 22.2.2014, Yulya Timoshenko spoke for the first time after her release on the Kiev Maidan, and the questions about the whereabouts of ex-president Yanukuvich and about what he declares now reach the field of the ridiculous. He undergoes the fate of other dictators who have been chased away, and from which fates he did not learn anything.

Now those who have political responsibilities in the EU (and not only of the EU) should however discuss what may or will happen in the next future, i. e. the impact of the Kiev Maidan on Russia and on the other European Partnership Partner states of the EU, as well as on the West Balkan and on Turkey. All these countries, except Russia, have one thing in common: they are possible EU Member States, in the making, in the waiting room. Of course, with different individual distance yet to the European Union.

First, it must be congratulated and thanked to the Ukrainian people, to the heroes – and the dead – of Maidan. This was the latest European revolution which became accelerated by the horror of those who were marched by the government against the protesters, and who felt – on their own or upon the opinion of their families, relatives, colleagues etc. – that this was too much. It is not possible to excuse the Ukrainian government of the deadly snipers who killed by one single shot protesters in an arbitrary way. We will all be witnesses to trials who will be necessary, and – for the sake of the rule of law oif Ukraine – it must be hoped that they are fair. Yanukuvoch must be aware that he might come in a similar situation as Ceaucescu of Romania. Because the state Forces who served him without thinking on their role may become disappointed in a way that they might take revenge.

The impact of the Ukraine events may be also a heavy load on the present Russian government. What e.g. Foreign Minister Lavrov said shortly before and after Yanukovich was lifted out of his position by the Ukrainian parliament, went into a direction, which implied that he has not learnt anything. While Russian (state) TV was a bit more diplomatic, it can be expected now that the Kremlin tries out (again) the collective intelligence of its own people, civil servants and politicians. That means without doubt, that there will be also protests, demonstrations etc. in Russia. But the Kremlin would be totally wrong to react with the usual hard measures: police, arrests, trials, the modern gulag etc. The way, the Kremlin will react on the next demonstrations will indicate if they have learnt anything. It they react as harsh as ever, this may end up in a similar situation like in Ukraine, especially after Sotchi. Of course, the EU played a bigger role in the Ukraine, with its Draft Association Agreement, than in Russia, as Russia is not waiting ante portas of the EU – but it is clear that the so-called „European values“ will now play a bigger role: pluralism, democracy, participative democracy, tolerance, human rights, the rule of law (in all its facets), solidarity, equality, non-discrimination etc. Article 2, 3 et al. EU Treaty (Lisbon Treaty) will be a guiding line for all the countries which are or were foreseen for Putin’s Eurasian Union.

This Eurasian Union, if it were a pragmatic integration tool alone, would not be a problem for the EU. But evidently Putin wants to restore „Soviet Union 2.0“. And the predecessor of the Eurasian Union, the Eurasian Customs Union, is, I am sorry, „ga-ga“. Because e.g. Armenia has to raise its import tariffs from the member countries now from 2,7 to 6,5% to become a member of this Customs Union. There are moer than 800 kinds of goods which should be exempted. This is a huge task to negotiate, and then the Armenian government has to allow to be asked why they want at all into this Customs Union. Any integration System which raises tariffs and therefore prices works against the people – for whom it is originally intended to exist. The EU knows this perfectly, and the Armenian government knows this, but they act against all reasons. It is difficult to understand the Armenian people to swallow this, and above all the government in Yerevan to accept this in principle. The Association Agreement would not have jeopardized any close cooperation between Yerevan and Moscow. The objective of the Association Agreement EU / Armenia would have been the decrease – until zero! – of any custom tariffs, and a free access to the EU Single Market, which is a unique success story for every participant country. The other member states of the Eurasian Customs Union Belarus and Kazakhstan, who take this Customs Union as serious as it merits, sometimes shake their head in view of the Armenian eagerness to join this. Nota bene: Armenia had declared their attachment to the Customs Union on 3rd September 2013, after having celebrated the end of negotiations of the EU Association Agreement/DCFTA only on the 24th July, 2013. Both are imcompatible. This, of course, is the product of pression by Russia,and of nothing else, except an evident weakness in negotiations with Russia from the Armenian side. How this was communicated afterwards, was not subject to any beauty contest, and many European politicians ask themselves now, if they can trust any Armenian declaration. But to complete this, it must be said in the same moment that also Azerbaijan policymaking has many deficits, like e.g. the breach of Council of Europe conventions.

From the Eastern Partnership countries, Georgia and most probably Moldova will continue their way to the EU. Of course sometimes with small curves, but here may be optimism the appropriate position. Armenia will, if it really implements the Customs Union laws, soon be disappointed, and I do not exclude a kind of civil society-based movement there pleading openly for an accession to the EU. This would, of course, also help Armenia towards its problems with Turkey (and also Turkey with Armenia), and with Azerbaijan, including the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan will probably not be the Primary subject of any Maidan fallout, as the president, Ilham Aliev, has the Country in not too democratic grips – but in general, the opposition against the present system will be encouraged as well, and nothing can be excluded – and Azerbaijan may be the most corrupt Council of Europe Member State.

Rests still Belarus, the 6th Eastern Partnership Partner state. In Belarus, where many activists helped on the Maidan (and some of them have even been killed by the Berkud Police Forces and/or the Secret Service sniper units), this may become an issue. Above all, the economic situation of this country is deplorable, and it can not be expected that Russia feeds open-end barrels without bottom. So Belarus will soon have another look for more EU support. Belarus is a country which cooperates already now, so far it does cooperate, correctly with the EU. This is not the way its president Lukashenko preaches, but it – and he – does.

After all, there will be further centripetal power of the European Union. The EU is not a nationalist event, nor a military or likewise system (as the German party „Die Linke“ recently said), but a chance for all of the Eastern Partnership countries to join. Sooner or later this will happen, and we are now exactly in the situation when the Soviet grips have been loosened to the e.g. Baltic countries in the early 1990s – states are today seasoned, experienced and very positive European Union members. After all, the EU enlargement policy will get a new boost, even if the issue of enlargement is not explicitly pronounced – as the EU often had fears to tell it to its own people. This has to finish, and in the EU everything which has to come has to be discussed. The Ukraine events have probably woken up the EU citizens, or a great deal of them, and the fact that the next Ukrainian election will be held on the same date as the 2014 European Parliament elections, namely the 25th May, indicates that Ukraine is now ante portas as well. Maybe not in the next 5 or 10 or even more years. But nobody should forget that e.g countries like Latvia have been a EU Member State exact 10 years after the application was made. And that the economic development of all new Central and Eastern Member States went into the right direction. It is not necessary that the same economic Level has been reached by any future member state immediately – it is only important that the economic policy follows the right direction, to join the EU which has also high disparities within its Member States.

So, nobody should be astonished, if in other Eastern Partnership states, like e.g. Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, or in Russia, or in Bosnia-Herzegovina or Turkey, similar movements like on Maidan might occur.

International Crisis Group (ICG) Calls on Europe To Act On Karabakh Conflict

By Dr. Michael Kambeck

While Syria and Iran dominate our agenda, the nearby developments between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the conflict area of Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) have become increasingly worrying. This so-called frozen conflict shows clear signs of unfreezing and has the potential to unleash a much larger scale of warfare, including geo-political tectonic shifts and human suffering. Now, the International Crisis Group (ICG), a key NGO flagging conflict warnings worldwide, has published a new briefing – see also: – on this conflict in the South Caucasus. “Terms like ‘Blitzkrieg’, ‘pre-emptive strike’ and ‘total war’ have gained currency with both sides’ planners,” the report’s authors say, though war scenarios are much more dominant in the Azerbaijani public than in Armenia.

Misusing conflict to distract from internal Problems

The report is very timely, and considers potential unrest in both countries. Azerbaijan’s presidential elections are scheduled for this week, and while most observers expect a staged renewal of the Aliyev family’s autocratic rule, it may inspire uprisings. Armenia’s decision to join the Russian-dominated Customs Union may also provoke internal unrest, the ICG assume, and both countries may be tempted to use the NK conflict to distract from their internal problems. Previous elections in Azerbaijan have produced heightened military tensions on the border with Armenia and NK. Yet Armenia’s internal situation with the next elections due in 2017 seems incomparable and large-scale unrest unlikely. Russia’s reinforced strategic partnership with Armenia could even prevent a possible war. These ICG conclusions therefore try too hard to see parallels where actually the situations differ.
They call upon the international community to work with the sides to maintain a “quiet period during which both sides dial down rhetoric”, to avoid accidental war. The report recommends re-establishing a “crisis hotline” in order to lessen chances of a military escalation and an efficient arms embargo regime for the conflict zone. These positive suggestions have been put forward by the expert community from time to time.

No confidence, no peace?

The report’s weakness is the attempt to balance out the unbalanced. For example, the authors criticise Azerbaijan for being the driving force in the arms race, for their regular hate speeches, including those by President Aliyev, and for the extradition of the axe murderer Ramil Safarov from Hungary and his immediate pardon and public glorification in Baku as anti-Armenian hero. The ICG equals all these points to the NK authorities’ intention to re-launch civilian flights between their Stepanakert airport and Yerevan, a project which would reduce transportation times, but not change anything else compared to current road transport. It would have been better to point out this imbalance: Both sides to the conflict clearly could do more for peace, but currently mainly one side publicly works against it. However, the report is a comprehensive resource for all the key facts, even provides its own original sources and it does admit that “since mediation efforts have stalled, Baku has increasingly emphasised a military solution, publicly and privately.”

The authors analyse that “time is neither side’s ally”, and that’s correct. For Azerbaijan, the arms race is based on the country’s massive oil and gas revenues, which analysts say have peaked already. For Armenia and NK, the economic costs of the isolation orchestrated by Turkey and Azerbaijan make it difficult to keep up in this arms race. While these points explain the urgency for action, they do not provide for an artificial balance: Armenia has no incentive to start any military adventure, while Azerbaijan is even creating such incentives for itself, in particular by impeding the Minsk Group mediations. During the years, these mediations have produced a road map for peace already agreed by both sides’ Foreign Ministers, for the summit in Kazan, as well as a list of confidence building measures (CBMs). But in Kazan, President Aliyev renounced the road map negotiated by his Foreign Minister, effectively stalling the deal, and until today Baku refuses all proposed CBMs, demanding that NK must first withdraw from the buffer zone, which is actually one point contained in the road map Aliyev rejected. In this way, Baku torpedoes the Minsk Group process and then complains about its ineffectiveness – all while accelerating its arms acquisitions and declaring that even Armenia’s capital Yerevan is allegedly positioned on “ancient Azeri soil”.

A question of leverage

The urgency of CBMs cannot be underlined enough. The ICG mentions NK’s recent call for cooperation regarding the Sarsang water reservoir, which Baku again turned down. This reservoir could be misused by either side to cause a military escalation, for example through acts of sabotage. Re-establishing the hotline connection and denouncing the propaganda of hate are also vital components to allow for a breakthrough in the peace process. The question will be how the international community, especially the EU, can exercise leverage on the side that so far blocks these CBMs, i.e. Azerbaijan. Waiting for a change of government in Baku may take too long. Azerbaijani lobbyists are currently re-floating an idea in Brussels to condition the EU’s Association Agreements (AA) to progress in the NK conflict resolution, knowing that Azerbaijan does not seek an AA and that Baku would thus receive a veto over Armenia’s relations with the EU. The EU has never concluded any agreement like this, and should refrain from this in the future.

But reformulated, this idea could work. First, it must include ALL sorts of agreements that the EU negotiates with the sides, including the energy partnership that Azerbaijan currently seeks with the EU. Secondly, the country in question needs to be able to fulfil the conditions ALONE, without depending on the other conflict party in its relationship with the EU. For example, the EU could help the establishment of the Minsk Group proposed investigation mechanism for shooting incidents, even deploy observers, and this CBM, accomplishable by each conflict party alone, could be a condition for contractual agreements with the EU.
Dr. Michael Kambeck is Secretary General of EuFoA – European Friends of Armenia, in Brussels, see also He is also the Editor and co-author of the book “Europe’s next avoidable war – Nagorno-Karabakh” (Palgrave, 2013, see e.g.

Armenia, the Russia-led Eurasian Customs Union, and the European Union: Will the Finality be Armenia’s Accession to the EU?

By Hans-Jürgen Zahorka

Since 1999 I was several times in Armenia, in journalistic missions and as Government Advisor, mainly for the EU. In 2003, during an assignment in AEPLAC (Armenian-European Political and Legal Advice Center), I had some spare time and wrote, after thorough consultations mainly with three former ministers (economy, finances) a scenario on Armenia’s accession to the EU. At this time, there was a very positive thinking towards a more active European policy in wide parts of the government and public life, and one of the „spinoff“ products following the essay I wrote was that there was soon the founding meeting of the Armenian chapter of the European Movement.

In the years to come, this article was more quoted and discussed (e.g. in Internet fora) than it could be expected. It can be seen in English on the Website of LIBERTAS – European Institute under:, and in 2003 there was also a German version (it is not easy to translate as a German one’s English text into German, I remember) in ADK 1-2/2003 (Armenisch-Deutsche Korrespondenz, Vierteljahresschrift der Deutsch-Armenischen Gesellschaft), which was also published on our Website:

Now we are in the situation that Russia is actively reluctant against an orientation by some of the former parts of the Soviet Union towards the EU. Besides the legitimate question, if Russia’s government does not try to turn back the wheel, it must be said that the Eurasian Customs Union as first stage of a Eurasian Union is of course, as a regional integrstion, fully legitimate – but it has to be taken into accouont that a regional integration can function only if the participant countries go voluntarily into this integration. But as we see and what has not be mentioned in detail (well, if someone wants, this is possible of course), Russia tries almost everything to „keep“ the European CIS Member States (Georgia has left the CIS in 2008) – Belarus, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova – on a lane leading to the Eurasia Customs Union, and later to the Eurasian Union. Belarus and Azerbaijan are not able to come closer to the EU, at least not under their present governments. Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and Armenia have negotiated an Association Agreement which is the successor of the PCA (Partnership and Association Agreement) from the late 1990s which was valid 10 years with automatic extension until it would be replaced by ist successor agreement – the Association Agreement (AA). In addition and a „goodie“ for the economies, there is also a DCFTA – Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement which should be signed at the Summit Meeting of the Eastern Partnership end of November 2013 in Vilnius/Lithuania.

But Russia wants to prevent this: Moldovan wines can at present not be exported to Russia (for „standards‘ reasons“ – but the EU which has widely feared very high standards to food imports does continue to import Moldovan wine …, and there are indeed no Quality changes to the worse with the good Moldovan wines), Ukraine exports to Russia have been stopped at the borders by the Russian administration, until Ukraine and the EU coughed … Georgia – well, their Prime Minister said, we will consider the Customs Union, but we have at present no opinion on this – this was quite friendly to MOCKBA, but it raised a domestic furor in Georgia, and the Prime Minister will leave office soon. Anyway, Georgia had a short armed conflict in 2008 with Russia, and since then, and not only then, the relations between both are a bit suspended asymetrically, and they cannot be called „normal“. In Georgia, there is an all-party coalition in favour of more European integration, and this did not change at the last general election.

The orientation of these four Eastern Partnership countries, including Armenia, towards the EU has been evident as the EU in the framework of its European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) has always tried to reform these former kommando economies – with a huge amount of detailed legal approximation which had and still has to be implemented. This covers among others competition and state aid policy, de-monopolization, pegging to technical EU standards and norms (which are relevant far beyond the EU), regulation of utilities and transport (rail, air traffic etc.), intellectual property rights, energy and environment law etc. Russia and its Customs Union remain advocating some key sectors, like railway, energy, telecommunications. Indeed, Russia holds all or big parts of these sectors in Armenia, and they are strategic. One has also to take into account that there are long and deep (and emotional) links in providing security from Russia for Armenia. However, one has also to ask what Russia did objectively that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was won by the ethnic Armenians from there in the beginning of the 1990s, and why Russia which has army bases in Armenia has now committed to provide Azerbaijan (which implicitely has threatened several times Armenia to conquer back Nagorno-Karabakh by the use of force) with arms worth several billions of euros. There were evidently Russian pressions, at present unknown in detail, on the Armenian President, to agree during a summit meeting on 3.9.2013 to include Armenia into the Eurasian Customs Union and later into the Eurasian Union. No politician would have said this without any pressions, just six weeks after four years of negotiations with the EU, having praised the objectives of these negotiations all the time. Big parts of Armenian civil society are protesting this, the European Parliament has adopted on 12.9.2013 a multi-party tabled motion quasi unanimously, and we had to state, too, that the European media did not much react on all of this…

The EU Commissioner Stefan Füle made very clear comments before the European Parliament on 11.9.2013. It is not necessary to repeat them here, just see The question is what will be the finality of Armenia vis-à-vis the European Union. I know many Armenians who fit fully into the pattern one has for an EU citizen, and the whole country’s culture is on one line with the EU, and nowadays the political culture more or less, too. Now, with the DCFTA many, even uncountable new links for small and medium enterprises could emerge, and this would really bring the country Forward. The expectations are in solid double-digit numbers for the growth of the Armenian GNP, if the DCFTA will be in power, within several years. Both, the Eurasian Customs Union and the DCFTA, are not compatible, and Armenia which cannot even form a common customs territory with the Customs Union, would be worse off with having signed both. So the moment of truth approaches:
– will Armenia sign only the AA plus DCFTA (they belong together, as a double-pack), which would require some explications to Russia (if they insist),
– or will it sign only the AA and not the DCFTA (which will cut the wings of the AA in a wide, yet unknown extent, and would stall the ongoing reform efforts of the country to be on line with the social market economies of the EU, and would also endanger trade flows – Armenia has more foreign trade with the EU than with Russia; statistically it is evident, but the EU Member States are counted separately, although the EU follows one Common External Commerce Policy, art. 206 et al. TFEU/Lisbon Treaty, and is counted in other countries as one statistical unit),
– or will it sign the Customs Union Treaty only, indicating this by a non-signature of the both agreements with the EU? Then it would give green light to oligarchs, more strategic investment by Russia and on the Long run an oligarchy and no competition at least in the relevant sectors. The whole country would be set back as it would not be reformed in a continuous way. It would then opt to be on one line with the economies of Russia (which has raw materials, different from Armmenia), of the ridiculous dictator-determined one of Belarus, and of the Central Asian System – and I mean very Central Asian!. and it is not the place to speak about this now and here – of Kazakhstan. Maybe Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan will be in the boat in some months, but this can be in no way a decision parameter for Armenia.

Nobody with some brain – sorry – could understand the latter possible decision. Only dubious and shallow words by Vladimir Putin must have induced to bring Armenia in today’s impossible position, after all. The Armenian President did not look to well and happy on the TV Screen when he came out of the meetings. What has been perceived as not too positive were the assurances given by all Armenian government officials and representatives. They should remember the fact that they cannot be pregnant only to 50%.

The long-term consequence of everything is that Armenia will forward an application to become a Member State of the EU. Maybe not within the next five years – but I exclude nothing. The security issues, at least with Turkey, can and will be solved, as they are also in the interest of Ankara, not at least in view of her EU negotiations. And the more Armenia will be uncoupled from EU growth and parallel countries like Ukraine, Moldova and above all Georgia, the more the civil society trend will be in favour of the EU. The EU is not an imperialist entity, but it has a huge centripetal potential – in economy, but also in its democratic systems. And Armenia has happily a more or less functioning civil society, which can and will have a feedback on its political system. And as the EU knows perfectly that a possible „no“ to the EU by Armenia is not the will of the people and not even of the government in Yerevan (why would they have drunk so much mulberry vodka or konjak on 24.7.2013, when the DCFTA negotiations were finished?!), the doors to the EU will not be closed. And isn’t it encouraging that e.g. in EU universities there is at present made serious research on a possible roadmap of Armenia towards an EU accession?

We will publish as a book what comes out there, for the EU must say „B“ when they say „A“. It will be on the market still this year, and it will induce any discussions. And Armenia as a European country, clearly anchoring in the standards of the Council of Europe, cannot be denied any further integration – in particular as Georgia will exactly do the same, and a double-pack is easier for the EU. And last but not least, the Russian system got some further spots of civil society influence: the Mayor elections in Moscow, but also in Ekaterinburg. Under these auspices, Mr. Putin should get the next Sakharov Prize of the European Parliament to promote inconsciously European values in Armenia – or the next medical Nobel Prize, as a Polish M.E.P. has proposed with a ;), as he opened the eyes of many with his – let’s call it: funny – behaviour towards the Eastern PArtnership countries. I look forward to heated or cool debates in the South Caucasus on these matters.

Armenia – The Unexpected Revelations of the Long Summer of 2013

By Lusine Petrosyan

The year 2013 started pretty dull in Armenia despite the scheduled Presidential elections in February. The four of the six parliamentary parties didn’t nominate own candidates and left the duel arena mainly to Heritage Party leader Raffi K. Hovannisian and the Republican leader, President-in-office Serzh Sargsyan. On February 18 the elections took place, the incumbent President was declared the winner of the race. Mr. Hovannisian didn’t acknowledge the announced results and rallied his supporters in the Liberty Square of capital Yerevan. Hovannisian’s rallies, tours around the country, hunger-strike, etc. lasted for almost two months but didn’t change much. The incumbent President entered the office for the second term on April 9 and the political landscape even without any noticeable regroupings arrived to a new election race for the seats at Yerevan Council. This endless election marathon reached to closure at the end of May and since then some notable events began to unfold.

May 28 – Prince Charles arrives to Armenia

The Armenia’s history counts more than three thousand years, the first Armenian Kingdom called Ararat or Urartu came into being more than three millenniums ago and the last Armenian Kingdom – the Armenian Cilicia fell down almost half a millennium ago. In the beginning of the 20th century Armenia regained independence establishing The First Republic (1918-1920) but since the fall of the last kingdom Armenia hadn’t hosted a member from British Royal family. Prince Charles arrived to Armenia on a very special day – May 28, 2013 – the 95th anniversary of the First Republic’s independence declaration and therefore the visit willingly or not carried much symbolism.
The UK and France are closely tied to the rebirth of the Armenian national state. They were the first that internationally recognized the right of the Armenians after centuries of discontinuance to reestablish the Armenian national state covering most of the Armenian Plateau and possessing a territory some 6 -7 times larger than today’s Armenia. That vision of the Prime Ministers David Lloyd George and Georges Clemenceau and the UK and French governments of the day was defined in the Sykes-Picot agreement concluded in 1916 and further embodied in the Sevres Treaties signed in 1920.

Simply two other nations – the Turks and the Russians pretty frightened by the vision of an independent Armenia in the Sevres Treaty boundaries, politically adjoined to Europe that inevitably would become a citadel of European presence in Asia Minor – prevented the implementation of the Treaty. These two nations jointly occupied the Armenian territories and signed a separate bilateral agreement in 1921 brutally violating the international Treaties of Sevres. But the Russian-Turkish tandem also actually prevented the 1915 Armenian genocide survivors from returning to motherland and surrendered the lands – belonged to Armenians for millenniums – to Turkish control. Turkey never did this alone – but in bold partnership with Russia. This is the truth – intentionally falsified and distorted by the Russian-Soviet historiography in a way that many even in Armenia think of Russians to be almost saviors – while they were the actual destroyers next to Turks.

Prince Charles‘ visit on that very special day – the anniversary of the First Republic – carried the symbolism of the events of 95 years age and the Russia’s notorious role in the history of Armenia and particularly the First Republic. Still in May 2013 one couldn’t imagine that official Yerevan will move that further on the path of historical truth that nearly a month later the Prosecutor General of Armenia will talk before a broad lawyers audience about the Sevres Treaties, particularly emphasizing that it keeps to be a valid document – at least in its part referring to Armenia – as it wasn’t reviewed or annihilated by international signatories ever after signing in 1920 at Versailles Peace Conference.

July 5 – Unfolding zigzags in relations with Russia

It happened so that the Prince Charles visit to Armenia coincided with a CIS leaders’ summit somewhere in Central Asia. The Armenian president didn’t attend it, just participated in May 28 celebrations round the country and also received Prince Charles. Nothing special was there but all the Russophiles in Armenian press and politics – not that large but a rather noisy community – came together to tell in one way or another that the President Sargsyan’s non-attendance of CIS summit was a clear anti-Russian step and promised harsh responses from Moscow. They were too angry to persuade.

However, almost a fortnight later came the news that Russia had sold some strategic attacking weaponry to Azerbaijan – for the sum of approximately 1 billion dollars (Azerbaijan is in state of ceasefire with Nagorno-Karabakh – an Armenian self-declared state, not recognized internationally that fought and won the war with Azerbaijan in 1990-94). Hardly this was the first weapon deal between the two countries or the last – simply this time it was done explicitly. The Armenian authorities publicly didn’t react to the news, but nearly a month later came news that Armenia had purchased more advanced weapons from China. Still the broad public reaction in Armenia wasn’t that calm – the anti-Russian sentiments began to prevail in social networks, press, everyday talks revealing more hatred that anything else.

Surprisingly in mid-July an Armenian lorry driver fell into an accident in Russia. His vehicle hurtled to a bus carrying almost hundred people. Many of these people regrettably died, the others got heavy injuries and the driver himself was hospitalized. Several days later he was taken from hospital to a court hearing in a woman’s housecoat. This piece of information and the photo with housecoat originated an astonishing public reaction in Armenia. For almost a week and even longer the civil activists demonstrated against the Russian Embassy, the media and NGO sector erupted with insults and blasphemy towards Russia. The Armenian Foreign Ministry was obliged to engage with the issue of driver, the Ombudsman left to Moscow, still the public anger didn’t calm down.

The Russian Ambassador to Armenia seemed pretty confused and finally arrived to accusing the hostile forces for nourishing and fostering anti-Russian moods in Armenia. That was the luck of this diplomat that he isn’t a sociologist otherwise he’d apprehend that the anti-Russian sentiments in Armenia are pretty spread and none needs to stimulate specially – any casual incident may reveal it.

All this developments unveiled the Armenian public mood that Russia couldn’t ignore. Still the most notable turn in Armenian-Russian relations unexpectedly came from the authorities. On the Day of Constitution – July 5 – the Prosecutor General of Armenia officially talked about the Sevres Treaties and the Armenian rights in that framework. Reviving the theme of Sevres Treaty and the Armenian rights could mean nothing else but condemnation of those who blocked its implementation – first and foremost that was Russia. Whether the Sevres Treaty regulations mean something in today politics or not – the knowledge and statement of truth that at the end of day equates the Russians with the Turks inevitably leads to a crash of Armenian-Russian friendship stereotypes.
Several days later Armenia and EU stated that the negotiations on EU Association Agreement are successfully concluded and Armenia is ready to sign the documents at Vilnius Summit of Eastern Partnership in November.

September 3 – Moscow declaration about Armenia’s U-turn

Most of the August both the President and the Foreign Minister of Armenia seemed to be on vacation and the back-benchers of the ruling Republican Party chatted about the Association Agreement with the EU. On September 3 the Armenian president paid a working visit to Moscow and there announced about Armenia’s intention to join Putin’s Customs Union. For the public the news broke as a thunder in blue sky.

It’s understandable to everyone that Russia achieved that declaration through pressure and blackmail. But the Russian methods have been the same for centuries – so the Russian behavior could be an explanation, still not a surprise or justification. It’s difficult to believe that either Armenia or the EU leaders were that naive not to calculate the malfeasance from Russia when there’s the frozen conflict of Nagorno-Karabakh and Russia may easily destabilize the situation in the region.

That perspective had to be clear and kept before eye along all 3.5 years while the EU and Armenia were negotiating the Association Agreement and DCFTA (Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement). The contra-measures had to be considered as well.

Anyway exactly on the next day Armenia stated that signing of agreements in Vilnius later this year are in agenda and the EU officially stated: “We look forward to understanding better from Armenia what their intentions are and how they wish to ensure compatibility between these and the commitments undertaken through the Association Agreement and DCFTA. Once this consultation has been completed, we will draw our conclusions on the way forward. We want to underline once again that AA/DCFTA is a blueprint for reforms beneficial for all and not a zero-sum game and could be compatible with economic cooperation with the members of the Commonwealth of Independent States”.

On September 5 the Armenian Foreign Minister left for Brussels then to Vilnius meeting the Enlargement Commissioner and the Foreign Minister of the EU presiding country – Lithuania. To this moment it’s told that the Armenian involvement in Eastern Partnership shall continue and the intensive consultations must go on between Armenia and the EU to get the thorough picture of the situation and consider the solutions. On September 11-13 Commissioner Fule is arriving to Yerevan for a Eastern Partnership Foreign Ministers’ informal meeting that has to prepare the Vilnius summit of November 28-29. Hopefully something more will be known then.

Anyway everyone understands that Russia creates obstacles not for Armenia alone but for the Eastern Partnership in whole trying to prevent all those four countries – Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine – from integrating with the EU. The pressures, methods and reactions are different in case of each participant but the Russia’s hopeless attempts to delay indivertible integration of these countries with EU are apparent everywhere. Therefore the best response can be a common one.

The statement released after EU Foreign Ministers September 7 meeting came to affirm this: “The member states express their solidarity with the countries of the Eastern Partnership programme that have chosen the European path and strongly support them. Russia’s pressure on Ukraine and other Eastern Partnership countries will increase, so it is important to keep this item on the EU agenda. We must consider ways to help the countries withstand such pressure”.

Meanwhile Armenian civil activists conduct some memorable protests before the Presidential office and the Republican Party office calling the Armenian President Sargsyan “cheburashka” (famous Soviet cartoon personage) for the statements he made in Moscow. Hopefully he’ll succeed to prove to be something different.

Lusine_Petrosyan_130909_Jarangutyun 2
Lusine Petrosyan is an Armenian journalist. In 2012 she was nominated for UNESCO Guillermo Cano Prize by Thomson Foundation (UK). In February 2012 she moved into politics and joined the oppositional Heritage party – also an observer in European Peoples’ Party. Since June 2012 she is a Heritage Board member and the Coordinator of Party Headquarters.

Azerbaijan: OSCE Opens Election Observation Mission For Presidential Election

In this blog there was repeatedly discussed about the Human Rights situation and the presidential elections in Azerbaijan, which is part of the Council of Europe, the Eastern Partnership of the European Union and a European Neighbourhood Policy Country. This is why it cannot be indifferent to European Human Rights observers.

In this context, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has made a press release from today, 29 August 2013, which we publlish hereafter in full length, just to inform others, our blog readers, about the situation:

„The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) today opened an election observation mission to monitor 
the 9 October presidential election in Azerbaijan. ODIHR was invited by Azerbaijan’s government to observe the elections, in 
line with the country’s commitments as an OSCE participating State.

The mission is headed by Tana de Zulueta and consists of 12 international experts based in Baku and 30 long-term observers to be deployed throughout the country. The experts and observers are drawn from 22 countries.

The mission will assess the presidential election for its compliance with OSCE commitments and other international standards for democratic elections, as well as with domestic legislation. Observers will closely monitor the candidate registration, campaign activities, the work of the election administration and relevant governmental bodies, election-related legislation and its implementation, the media environment and the resolution of election-related disputes.

In the course of its observation, the mission will meet with representatives from relevant authorities and political parties, as well as with candidates, and with representatives from civil society, the media and the international community. On election day, observers will monitor the opening of polling stations, voting, the counting of ballots and the tabulation of results.

A statement of preliminary findings and conclusions will be issued on the day after the election. A final report on the observation of the entire electoral process will be published approximately two months after the completion of the election process.“

„Europe of Human Rights“ on: The European Parliament on the Human Rights Situation in Azerbaijan

This Blog, by the NGO „Europe of Human Rights“ in Poland, has been posted on 14.6.2013. See also: We take it up without any modification:

„The issues of energy and trade cannot take precedence over human rights,” said MEP Maretje Schaake during the customary human rights debates at the end of the plenary session of the European Parliament (“EP”). The quote aptly captures one of the most salient oppositions of today’s international relations, namely that between the economy and human rights, which the EU tries – with various results – to reconcile.

This time, one of human rights debates was devoted to the situation in Azerbaijan, in particular the detention of Ilgar Mammadov. EP adopted a resolution which strongly condemns the arrest of Mammadov, amply criticises the Azerbaijani authorities for countless deficiencies in human rights protection and calls for immediate action, both to release Mammadov and strengthen human rights guarantees in Azerbaijan.

EP’s resolution is yet another EU call to the authorities in Baku. In their recent joint statement, Catherine Ashton and Stefan Fule expressed concern at curbs on freedom of expression in Azerbaijan and renewed EU’s readiness to assist the county in meeting “its voluntarily agreed international commitments.” The resolution also follows the 2012 ENP country progress report on Azerbaijan in which we read, among others, that “Azerbaijan needs to step up its efforts if it is to meet all Action Plan commitments on democracy, including the electoral process, the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the independence of the judicial system […].”

The resolution was sparked by the case of Ilgar Mammadov, the leader of the opposition movement REAL and director of the School of Political Studies of the Council of Europe in Baku, and Tofiq Yakublu, the deputy-chairman of the opposition party Musavat who were arrested by the Azerbaijani authorities on 14 February 2013. They have been illegally detained since then. Before Mammadov’s arrest, he was confirmed to run as a candidate for the Azerbaijani presidential elections in October 2013. The temporary detention of Ilgar Mammadov has already been prolonged twice in order to keep him in confinement pending the upcoming elections.

Human rights defenders and the representatives of the civil society are in agreement that Mammadov’s detention was illegal and politically motivated, and that it was an attempt to intimidate the opposition. The European Parliament called for Mammadov’s release and urged the authorities to investigate the charges against him in a speedy, fair, transparent and independent manner.

In its resolution, EP made notice of the deterioraring human rights situation in Azerbaijan, inluding the attacks on the political opposition, youth activists, NGOs, free expression and independent media. The attacks often take form of changes in law, for example the amendments to the law on NGOs, the Criminal Code or the Freedom of Assembly Law. The resolution condemned all forms of intimidation, arrest, detention or prosecution of opposition party leaders or members, activists, journalists or bloggers solely because they have expressed their views.

EP also urged the Azerbaijani authorities to unconditionally grant authorization to reopen the Human Rights House in Baku. It has been more than 2 years since the authorities ordered its closure. EP also called on the government in Baku to, without further delay or administrative burdens, register the Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Centre and the Human Rights Club.

Taking into account that Azerbaijan will take over the rotating chairmanship of the Council of Europe, EP also urged the Azerbaijani authorities to comply with all rulings of the European Court of Human Rights. During the debate in the Parliament, eurodeputies emphasised that full compliance with human right, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law is a basis for cooperation within the Eastern Partnership and forms integral part of the obligations accepted by Azerbaijan as a member of the Council of Europe and OSCE.

The European Parliament supported the ongoing negotiations on the Association Agreement between the EU and Azerbaijan, but reaffirmed its stance that the Agreement has to include clauses and benchmarks which refer to the protection and promotion of human rights.

„In the light of spreading repressions, we expect that Azerbaijani authorities will comply with their obligations enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights, especially before taking over the rotating chairmanship in the Council of Europe in 2014, because the respect for the freedom of the media and the right to peaceful assembly constitute a condition of a country’s membership in the Council of Europe, OSCE and of the currently negotiated Association Agreement with the EU,” Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg, a Polish MEP and one of the authors of the resolution, said during the debate.

In one of their last points, EP called on Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso “to speak out on the EU’s human rights concerns vis-à-vis Azerbaijan, as outlined in the last ENP progress report, during President Ilham Aliyev’s planned visit to Brussels.” Let us hope that the Commission President hears this call and that human rights, indeed, eventually take precedece over energy and trade.

Again Azerbaijan. This time: The Embassy in Switzerland and 2nd Class Citizens

These days, a letter came on the EUFAJ desk. It is worth while to take note of this, as it documents the arbitrary treatment of Azerbaijan citizens by this country’s embassy – this time in Bern/Switzerland. It reads as following (English text, in which we did not edit anything, below):

Hörmetli Dostlar,
Nezerinize catdiraq ki, sefirliyin 28 Dekabirda kesirdiyi tedbirden önce hemin tedbire gelmek isteyen insanlar qeydiyyatdan kecmek ücün gereken yerlere müraciyet etmisdiler. Lakin tedbir basladigi zaman salona daxil olmaq isteyen bezi aileler tedbirin kecirildiyi salona buraxilmamisdir( Valideyinler ve Usaqlar). Sonradan ortaya cixdi ki, Azerbaycan sefirliyi Azerbaycanda oldugu kimi azerbaycandan kenardada Insan Haqqlarina hörmətsizliyi acik asikar buradada büruze verdi. Bu tedbirde istirak edilmesine icaze verilmeyen ailelerde Valideyinler sefirliyin etdiyi bu exlaqsiz davranisi usaqlarina nece izah edecekler? O usaqlar ki, cox hevesle, cox sevincle hemin tedbirde istirak etmek ücün getmisdiler. Sefirliyin etdiyi bu Davranislar eslinde Azerbaycan Devletinin Adindan edildiyində nezere alsaq, qürbet yerde hem avropalilar hemcinin Azerbaycanlilar bunu heç də xoş qarşılamayacaqlar. Bunu eden serilik iscileri helede derk etmemisler ki bizim medeniyyetde, hec bir Müselman gələn qonaqı qapıdan geri qaytarmaz. Bu hadise bir daha gösterdi ki, Azerbaycan sefirliyi heç də xaricdeki azerbaycanlilari temsil etmir.
Son olaraq Haqq ve Adalet Teskilati olaraq, hemin tedbirde sefirliyin oradaki insanlarimiza qarsi etdiyi exlaqsiz davranislarina gore teessüf hisslerimizi bildiririk.


Dear Friends
As you know that, Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the Swiss Confederation in Bern, organized an event to congratulate the the World Azerbaijanis Solidarity Day and new year on December 28, 2012. It should be mentioned that registration was made before event for people who liked to attend. Unfortunately some of guest families (Parents and Children) attempting to get into Event Hall in the beginning of program, have been turned away. This clearly show that Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan do not respect human rights outside of the Azerbaijan Republic as they do the same inside Azerbaijan Republic. How the parents who have been banned to enter event hall, will explain unethical behavior of embassy to their own children? The children who eagerly anticipated the event and more joy. Basically, this behavior which is made on behalf of the government of Azerbaijan through the Embassy, will not be welcomed from the Europeans point of view, as well as Azerbaijanis abroad. The embassy staff, who showed this behavior still do not understand that in our culture, any Muslim does not turn away the guest. This showed that again the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan does not represent Azerbaijanis abroad.
Finally as Right & Justice organization, express our feelings of regret regards unethical behavior by Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan against Azerbaijani people in that event.
No comment…

Azerbaijan’s Haqq-Adalet zur Überstellung von Ramil Sararov Ungarn – Azerbaijan

Die azerbaijanische Oppositionsformierung Haqq-Adalet (siehe auch unser Blog vom 24.10.2012, bzw. hat in einer hochinteressanten Weise und schon am 11.9.2012 auf die Cause Ramil Safarov reagiert. Wir wollen diese Stellungnahme, die uns in Deutsch vorliegt, weiter verbreiten – sie ist hochinteressant, auch wenn nicht jeder allem zustimmen muss. Das Statement wurde im September 2012 an die Tagespresse in der Schweiz gegeben, verdient aber weitere Verbreitung. Erklärende Anmerkungen sind hier in eckige Klammern gesetzt.


 Basel, 11. September 2012                                            An die Tagespresse

 Grosse Schachzüge mit kleinen Figuren

Begnadigungen pflegen keine massiven Proteste auszulösen. Kürzlich hat eine solche aber im südlichen Kaukasus zu grossen Spannungen geführt. Ilham Aliyev, der Präsident von Aserbaidschan, hat am 31. August 2012 die Begnadigung eines Ramil Safarov unterzeichnet. Er ist ein aserbaidschanischer Offizier, der in Ungarn wegen der Ermordung eines armenischen Offiziers im Jahre 2004 eine lebenslange Haftstrafe absitzen sollte, aber kürzlich an Aserbaidschan ausgeliefert wurde. Armenien hat darauf sehr stark reagiert: der armenische Präsident Sargsyan hat sofort eine ausserordentliche Ministerratssitzung einberufen, in welcher beschlossen wurde, die diplomatischen Beziehungen mit Ungarn abzubrechen. Russland, die Vereinigten Staaten und die Europäische Union haben eine Deklaration veröffentlicht und verlangen eine Erklärung von Aserbaidschan für diese Begnadigung.

Aber um was geht es im Einzelnen, dass grosse Staaten und Organisationen auf diese Situation so hart reagierten? Und was für Interessen stehen dahinter?

Während eines NATO-Seminars in Ungarn entstand ein Streit zwischen dem aserbaidschanischen und einem armenischen Offizier, Gurgen Margaryani, auf dem Hintergrund des jahrzehntealten Konflikts um die nationale Zugehörigkeit von Bergkarabach [Anmerkung: Nagorno-Karabakh]. Da hat der aserbaidschanische Leutnant am 19. Februer 2004 in der Nacht den armenischen Leutnant umgebracht. Vom obersten Gericht in Budapest wurde er am 13. April 2006 für diese Straftat zu lebenslanger Haft verurteilt. Seit jener Zeit ist Safarov in Aserbaidschan als „Nationalheld“ und in Armenien als „Mörder“ sehr bekannt.

Als Safarov am 31. August [2012] in Aserbeidschan eintraf, wurde er schon im Flughafen von Beamten des aserbaidschanischen Justizministeriums empfangen, und es wurde ihm der präsidentiale Entscheid seiner Begnadigung vorgelesen. Das Verteidigungsministerium beförderte ihn gleich zum Major und setzte ihn an einen verantwortungsvollen Posten; dazu schenkte man ihm gleich noch ein Haus.

Der Konflikt um Bergkarabach hat eine alte Geschichte. Nach der Oktoberrevolution von 1917 erhoben sowohl Armenier wie Aserbaidschaner, je als autonome demokratische Republik organisiert, Anspruch auf Bergkarabach. Als der Staatenbund zerfiel, annektierte die Sowjetunion beide Staaten und das ZK [Zentralkomittee] der KP [Kommunistische Partei] entschied im Juli 1921, dass Bergkarabach ab 1923 ein autonomes Gebiet in der aserbaidschanischen SSR sei. Dann war es ruhig bis in die 1960er Jahre, als vereinzelt neue Unruhen auftraten. Zu jener Zeit lebten in Bergkarabach etwa 200’000 Armenier und 100’000 Aserbaidschaner. Der Konflikt entbrannte 1988 durch nationalistische armenische Ansprüche auf politische Unabhängigkeit als souveräner Staat, der also nicht zu Aserbaidschan gehört, aber auch nicht direkt zu Armenien. Im Februar 1988 kam es zu anti-armenischen Pogromen und die Streitigkeiten mündeten beidseitig in Ausweisungen der jeweiligen Minderheit. Der Konflikt konnte nicht beendet werden durch die sowjetische Führung, die damals schon schwach war. Nach 1991 waren Armenien und Aserbaidschan unabhängig und begannen ihre Armeen zu organisieren. Im Frühjahr 1992 attackierten armenische Einheiten, unterstützt von russischen, den Westen von Aserbaidschan in Provinzen, die offiziell nicht zu Bergkarabach gehörten. Es folgen erfolgreiche militärische Operationen der aserbaidschanischen Armee bis Juni 1993, in denen die verlorenen Gebiete zurückgewonnen wurden. Im Juni erfolgte der Putsch, in welchem Heydar Aliyev [der Vater des derzeitigen Staatspräsidenten] die Macht ergriff. Er löste 36 regierungstreue Bataillone auf. Armenien nütze diese Schwäche aus und bis Oktober 1993 verlor Aserbaidschan seine Provinzen und dazu sechs weitere, die nicht zu Bergkarabach gehörten. Im Dezember 1993 attackierte Aliyev wieder, aber ohne nennenswerte Ergebnisse bis Mai 1994, als in Bischkek ein Friedensabkommen unterzeichnet wurde, das formell bis heute gilt. Sechs Provinzen stehen noch immer unter armenischer Besetzung. Ramil Safarov kommt aus einer solchen Provinz.

Die endgültige Lösung des Konflikts wurde von der Minsker OSZE-Gruppe übernommen. Angeführt wird sie von den Vereinigten Staaten, Russland und Frankreich. Als sich die Mitglieder der Minsk-Gruppe am 2. September [2012] in Paris mit Ausserminister Nalbandian von Armenien und am 3. September mit Ausserminister Mammadov von Aserbaidschan trafen, bezeichneten sie das Verhalten von Präsident Ilham Aliyev als „Rechtfertigung für Mörder“. Das ungarische Ministerium für Auswärtige Angelegenheiten hat in Aserbaidschan eine Protestnote eingereicht.

Zu ihrer Verteidigung im Skandal sagt die Regierung in Budapest, dass der Gefangene Safarov gemäss dem Übereinkommen des Europarates über die Überstellung verurteilter Personen vom 21. März 1983 nach Aserbaidschan ausgeliefert worden ist. In der Protestnote wird betont, dass die aserbaidschanische Seite die Verantwortung übernommen hatte, Safarov frühestens in 25 Jahren freizulassen.

Allerdings ist Ungarn beschuldigt worden, zu einem Abkommen über 3 Milliarden Euro – als Verkauf von Staatsanleihen von Ungarn an Aserbaidschan – eingewilligt zu haben, Safarov an Aserbaidschan auszuliefern. Zwar leugnete der stellvertretende ungarische Ministerpräsident Borbeli einen Zusammenhang zwischen der Auslieferung und dem Verkauf der Staatsanleihen. Der aserbaidschanische Aussenminister Mammadov gab zu, dass mit den ungarischen Behörden seit einem Jahr Geheimverhandlungen über die Auslieferung geführt wurden, leugnet aber ebenfalls einen Zusammenhang zwischen den Staatsanleihen und der Affäre Safarov.

Man kann sich fragen, welche Faktoren die aserbaidschanische Seite dazu drängte, solche Schritte zu vollziehen und weiter, was die Situation im grösseren Zusammenhang bedeutet. Auf jeden Fall hat sie einen grossen Einfluss auf die künftigen Verhandlungen zwischen Armenien und Aserbaidschan. Das Ereignis hat die Position von Aserbaidschan bei Friedensgesprächen nach aussen insofern geschwächt, als seine Glaubwürdigkeit einmal mehr fraglich wurde. Die soziale und politische Stabilisierung des südlichen Kaukasus ist damit noch ein wenig problematischer geworden. Im Zusammenspiel zwischen Staaten sollte aber die Rolle der inneren Verhältnisse nicht vergessen werden.

Nach einigen Theorien geht es in Aserbaidschan um die nächsten Präsidentschaftswahlen im Jahr 2013 und somit um die Volksgunst. Aber soziopolitisch genau betrachtet ist diese Auffassung nicht haltbar, denn bisher wurden alle Ergebnisse der Präsidentschaftswahlen zugunsten des Präsidenten Ilham Aliyev gefälscht. Die öffentliche Meinung spielt für ihn eigentlich keine Rolle.

Eine andere Erklärung der Begnadigung ist eine Sympathie zum „Nationalhelden“ Safarov. Aber seit Safarov 2004 verhaftet wurde, ergriff die aserbaidschanische Regierung keinerlei Massnahme für seine rechtliche Unterstützung und stellte nie einen Anwalt. Während er in Ungarn im Gefängnis war, lebte seine Familie – Flüchtlinge aus Bergkarabach – in Baku in Armut. Als Safarovs Mutter 2009 starb, kam niemand von der Regierung zu ihrer Beerdigung. Diese Umstände beweisen, dass die Auslieferung  und Begnadigung von Safarov keineswegs aus der Huldigung eines Helden oder gar aus Nächstenliebe erfolgte.

Aus einer umfassenderen Perspektive können diese Prozesse als den Beginn einer neuen Etappe im Konflikt um Bergkarabach betrachtet werden.

Mit der Begnadigung von Safarov hat Aliyev für weitere Verhandlungen in diesem Konflikt eine öffentliche Unterstützung erhalten. Einerseits ist Aliyev ein Despot, aber andererseits weiss er, dass Bergkarabach ein nationales Problem ist und er deshalb nicht nur willkürlich vorgehen darf, sondern vorsichtig sein muss. Durch die Sympathie des Volkes bekommt er zugleich in Entscheidungen um Bergkarabach eine gewisse Bewegungsfreiheit im Land. Die Begnadigung von Safarov wird als politisches Mittel dafür verwendet. Wie könnte aber in Wirklichkeit die aserbaidschanische Regierung eine Lebenssicherheit für Karabach-Armenien anbieten, wenn bereits in Aserbaidschan ein Despotismus herrscht und andauernd Menschenrechtsverletzungen vorkommen?

Ein weiteres Phänomen, welches Beachtung verdient, ist die armenische Diplomatie in diesem Zeitraum. Die armenischen Behörden wussten schon lange um die bevorstehende Auslieferung von Safarov, blieben aber äusserlich passiv – wobei unklar bleibt, was auf der diplomatischen Ebene hinter den Kulissen geschah. Die russische Webseite veröffentlichte Anfangs August 2012 Informationen über die Auslieferung von Safarov. Zugleich hat der Vizepräsident der armenischen Diaspora in Ungarn, N. Hakobian, am 20. August [2012] in Bezug auf die Auslieferung sowohl das armenische Aussenministerium wie auch das Diaspora-Ministerium in Armenien und die armenische Botschaft in Oesterreich informiert. Es ist erstaunlich, dass die armenischen Behörden und Diaspora in einem so heiklen Thema bis zum Zeitpunkt der Auslieferung tatenlos blieben – und dann höchst demonstrativ protestierten, mit zunehmend zustimmendem internationalem Widerhall.

Der Gesamtzusammenhang deutet darauf hin, dass wichtige Dinge hinter den Kulissen vereinbart worden sind und weiter, dass die Auslieferung eine wichtige Rolle für das künftige Schicksal von Bergkarabach spielen könnte – von der volksnahen Seite als Symbolfigur, und von der regierungsnahen Seite als politisches Pfand. Einerseits kann durch diese Auslieferung Aliyev innerstaatlich in seinem Volk die latente Unruhe momentan bändigen und innenpolitisch darauf pochen, für jeden Aserbaidschaner einzustehen, auch wenn andere Staaten das nicht gut finden. Andererseits kann im weiteren Umfeld auch die internationale Gemeinschaft der wirtschaftlichen Interessen durch die Auslieferung und Begnadigung auf die Weiterführung einer relativen Stabilität hoffen. Denn sie braucht sich nicht zu kümmern um die Klagen von Aliyev, dass die ganze Welt hinter Armenien und gegen Aserbeidschan steht, aber daran sei nicht er schuld, er habe den Offizier gerettet und sollte also vom Volk für die schwierige Situation nicht bestraft werden. In dieser Patt-Situation kann nach wie vor das Erdöl ungehindert fliessen, selbst wenn Aserbeidschan auf Bergkarabach je länger je mehr verzichtet, was bisher nie friedlich denkbar gewesen war. Die Ereignisse um Safarov haben wohl viel mehr mit Bergkarabach zu tun und mit der Stärkung der Popularität und Macht von Aliyev, als mit der Person Safarov so wie die offiziellen Deklarationen lauten. Er ist nur eine kleine Figur in diesem grossen Spiel.

Haqq & Adalet (Recht & Gerechtigkeit) – Presseabteilung

Gabil Rzayev                             Alec Schaerer

(H&A Präsident)                       (Operativer Berater)


A Short Visit of Solidarity with Haqq & Adalet Association from Azerbaijan

Et audiatur altera pars” – or: Never listen only to one side!

Due to its socio-political tensions, the situation in the southern Caucasus still requires a lot of attention. For cultivating a competent focus with particular emphasis on Azerbaijan, Hans-Jürgen Zahorka from Baden-Wuerttemberg state in Germany met core representatives of the Haqq & Adalet Association (Right and Justice) on October 23, 2012 in Basel / Switzerland. The former Member of European Parliament and Government Advisor since many years who is now also Chief Editor of European Union Foreign Affairs Journal said that the objective of this meeting was mutual information, as it would be also necessary to hear other voices than only the official government side.

interesting talks were held mainly by Gabil Rzayev, President of Haqq & Adalet (Right & Justice), Dr. Alec Schaerer, Basel, Hans-Jürgen Zahorka and Surkhan Latifov, former President of the European Movement of Azerbaijan. The broad competence on both sides gave rise to a fruitful dialogue, as much in the immediate pragmatic dimensions (‘tactical realm’) as on the level of secure long-term thinking (‘strategic level’). The discussion evolved of course on how the two domains can reasonably be brought together.

In the post-socialist countries of the southern ex-Soviet union, a socially explosive situation is being bred by a struggle between a helpless populace on the one hand, and on the other hand a selfish and often corrupt government. The most material apple of discord is the benefits resulting from exploiting the natural resources – essentially crude oil and petroleum gas. Another bone of contention is the violent cultural and intellectual paternalism, prohibiting autonomous thinking and democratic procedures. The crude strife has produced an emotional and intellectual turmoil and massive emigration, mostly to the West, aggravating tensions in the homeland and burdening statehood abroad.

Under the flags of Switzerland, Azerbaijan and the European Union the very open talk included also issues like European asylum laws, Azerbaijan and European Integration, Azerbaijan and Armenia as well as Nagorno-Karabakh etc. There were no unbridgeable gaps between the participants of the talks – just the contrary. “We would be much further, if Azerbaijan would be an open society which discusses the place of Azerbaijan in the world in a pluralistic way”, said Hans-Jürgen Zahorka, and “the country has now to catch up to prepare for the necessary diversification for the post-oil & gas period, for which no major preparations have been done but for which all the oil & gas revenues also those diverted by some tycoons should be used”.

Haqq & Adalet is committed to producing change by empowering the hitherto helpless populace. This association goes for a stimulating mediation between the government, the destitute political opposition, and the people. It fosters thoroughly transparent procedures, thereby creating also favorable conditions for democratization. The first objective is civic participation, social self-organization, and finally a non-violent but clearly insistent transition to the relaxed order of a functional, open society that allows also the material repatriation of exiled citizens. Violence is generally to be countered by transparency and intelligence.

This activity coincides very well with the basic attitude of Hans-Jürgen Zahorka, as documented in the editorial style of the European Union Foreign Affairs Journal and the activities of Libertas – European Institute, a think-tank on European and international governance and economy he leads.

Basel, October 23, 2012

Dr. Alec Schaerer

(A similar article with photos is published on the website of EUFAJ,, as well as on the homepage of Haqq & Adalet,

As Election Observer in Nagorno-Karabakh – Now it is the „Solidarity of Democrats“ in the EU which is required

Democracy is precious, and its tools and instruments like elections should become precious, too, wherever they are held. In the week around the 19.7.2012 I seized the occasion in being a part of the Presidential election observation mission to Nagorno-Karabakh, the long embattled piece of land with approx. 145.000 citizens, and its capital Stepanakert (54.000 pop.). I was embedded in an observer mission of the European Friends of Armenia (EuFoA), a Brussels-based organisation ( which has also a branch office in Yerevan/Armania. The observer mission was composed of eight people including one Cypriot Member of European Parliament, and under the gentle conduction of Dr Michael Kambeck, the Secretary General of EuFoA. I am not amember of EuFoA, nor was ever partisan for one of the conflict camps, and I worked as government advisor in all three South Caucasus countries, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia.

Just for the memory: Nagorno-Karabakh has often changed its rulers in the last centuries. It was another strange decision by Stalin to leave the territory populated mainly by Armenians to Azerbaijan, and this one day after he decided that it should be attached to Armenia. Since 1988 there were concrete problems between Azeris and Armenians which culminated in a referendum that the region should be tending towards Armenia. A cruel war followed, which concretely was started by Azerbaijan, and which cost ten thousands of lives. The Azeris‘ first success in this war led to Armenian resistance, and since a ceasefire in 1994 Nagorno-Karabakh lives in relative peace, except several border skirmishes evidently provoked by Azeri troops where several soldiers from both sides have been killed at the ceasefire line and at the border. But this is not about the histroy, bt about a possible end of this conflict. Since then, the OSCE (Minsk Group) tries to bring both sides to a peaceful settlement. Armenia is ready to the Minsk Group’s proposals.

To make it short: Despite minor shortcomings which may lead to some improvements of the Election Law, e.g. on the sealing of ballot boxes etc., this election was held in an excellent and free and fair athmosphere. The incumbent president of NK who was elected with about 80% some years ago was reelected with 66,7%. I spotchecked people on the streets and was even able to predict this result (2/3 vs. 1/3). This time as a first there was an alternative who gained 32,5%, and a third candidate got 0,8%. The proceedings in the polling stations were extremely well organised, as well the counting where a part of us was present during the whole counting procedure. All which was said against the elections was in one complaint of a voter who did not show his – compulsory – passport to the polling station staff but its photocopy, and was therefore refused to take part. There was no „voting carrousel“ bringing by bus mainly soldiers or likewise from one polling station to the next …, there were lists of all voters outside all polling stations and a voter could vote only there. There is no correspondence vote in NK, which for sure will be discussed in the future. All in all, these elections have been a full democratic success, not only for formal reasons, but also as the electorate could really choose between different policies, approaches and persons.

The next step is the solidarity of democrats. In the EU, we do not yet recognize NK diplomatically. There may be for some EU Member States subjective reasons for it, but it’s clear and proven at the latest now that NK is a democratic community, sharing  the values of Europeans, as stipulated e.g. in article 2 EU Treaty or the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. This is in sharp contrast to the system of Azerbaijan where President Ilham Aliev who obtained this post from his father was responsible for the giant flop of marching the police against peaceful youth demonstrators just some days before the Eurovision Song Contest. There is no month in the last years where there is not a press release of OSCE against the Baku government, demanding the release of journalists, bloggers, youth NGOs, demonstrators (against the expulsions from homes needed for the ESC Palace) etc. Sometimes one of them is released, but we know authentically and directly from reports of youth NGOs that they were and are often haunted by plainclothes policemen who threaten and intimidate them. This is no democracy, and if the Council of Europe would act it should freeze the membership of Azerbaijan – or exercizes influence on the government and administration of this country, which by the way is probably the most corrupt one within the Council of Europe Member States.

I’m sorry that this country – with the income of its oil and gas industry -buys also heavy arms in an unprecedented way. Only recently, the Azeri President boasted in a 25.6.2012 address at the national Higher Military School’s graduation ceremony: „Military expenditure is our biggest budget item. Over the past few years our military spending has increased more than 20 times”, adding that the current armed forces budget of $3.6 billion is 50 percent more than Armenia’s total expenditure. These contexts have to taken into account of the European Union, and while Armenia cooperates excellently with the EU in the European Neighbourhood Policy and the Eastern Partnership, this is by far not the case with Azerbaijan. And in this situation, the Karabakhis vote in a picture book way a president and give an example to all other Caucasus election systems.

For all details, please see the original report on the election observation mission: . There will also be reports about Nagorno-Karabakh in „European Union Foreign Affairs Journal“ and about the election observation mission on the homepage of LIBERTAS – European Institute ( We already published an article by Fazil Zeynalov in EUFAJ 2/2010, p. 40, about „The conflict in Nagorny-Karabakh and the fundamental principles of international law“, from an Azeri point of view, see

For once, the European Union should show its teeth. The EU is a global player and should sometimes let others feel its soft power. We have European values, and those who are in European organisations must comply to the rules. Otherwise they should take into account the fate of Belarus which is not in the Council of Europe, because of its undemocratic policy. Nobody can afford in today’s globalized world to remain isolated anymore. Nagorno-Karabakh has delivered, and now it is the Europeans’turn.

Hans-Jürgen Zahorka,

Chief Editor, European Union Foreign Affairs Journal