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



Armenia: Internal Reforms as Response to Global Challenges

By Viktor Yengibaryan

The author of this blog lives in Yerevan/Armenia. He is President of the European Movement in Armenia. This blog reflects his personal opinion. Viktor Yengibaryan is also member of the Editorial Advisory Board of „European Union Foreign Affairs Journal“ (EUFAJ).

Tense relations between Russia and Turkey, the rising hardcore diplomacy between west and the east and the threatening information flow in the international media on terrorism, immigration in Europe and the destabilization of, and negative expectations for macro-economic situation globally has fatal meaning for Armenia. Armenia, a country, which is landlocked and has two closed borders out of four, namely the border of Turkey and Azerbaijan are blocked since the country’s independence. The other two countries neighboring Armenia are Georgia and Iran. Yerevan’s economic and political partners in its direct neighborhood region are Tbilisi and Tehran, the country tries to profit from the improvement of the relations between Iran and the west now. On the other hand the disagreements between Georgia and Russia, and the differences between Iran and the west, leave the country no other chance than to be creative in its foreign policy. Being a member of Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union, the country is close to come to a new and more ambitious economic cooperation agenda with the European Union. Closer cooperation with Europe and European Integration of the country was and still is the main foreign and domestic policy vector for many young people and academics.

Yerevan is also the political and military supporter of the de-facto independent Republic of Nagorno Karabakh, disputed by oil-rich Azerbaijan, which is no way to be described as an “easy-going” country, especially for journalists and democracy activists.

The recent atrocities and violation of ceasefire by Azerbaijanare a proof, that Armenia needs a strong internal and foreign policy development.

In 2015, the 100th commemoration year of the Armenian Genocide, organized in Ottoman Empire and still refused by its legal successor Turkey, Armenia’s authorities initiated a constitution change, which is to reform the country’s political system in a revolutionary way. On December 6th, 2015, the people of Armenia voted in favour of the constitution draft, applauded by the Venice Commission (a Council of Europe commission specialized on constitutional affairs). (Link:

The newly voted constitution turns the country’s political system from a semi-presidential to a parliament-based democracy, with more power for political parties. The head of the state and the government is to be elected by the Parliament; the next President of Armenia is going to have a more representative role, similar to European parliamentary systems. The new constitution is guaranteeing more freedom of speech and more power for judicial system. Surely, the new constitution provides more space for pro-European activists to participate in parliamentary elections next year. A good representation of young professionals in the next parliament is broadly seen as a precondition for a well functioning parliamentary democracy and the ability for more cooperativeness with European structures and countries.

Armenia’s President Serj Sargsyan (Republican Party – EPP) in his speech on 12th February, 2916, announced the beginning of a new era of development. “We don’t expect rapprochement between Armenia and Turkey and an improvement of Armenian-Azeri relations for the near future”, he said, “the only thing we can rely on to improve our economy and democratic structures is the people”. Speaking about current challenges in the region, he stressed the importance of human rights and democracy. Same day, he appointed his former aide, Georgi Kutoyan, a 34 year old lawyer as director of National Security Service of the country. The civil society largely welcomes that appointment, and perceives it as a clear sign of change of generation. Well, as the American writer Denis Waitley said: “The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence”.

Obviously, to regional and global geopolitical challenges, Armenia responds with political elite circulation, change of generation and reforms.

EU Peacekeepers for Nagorno-Karabakh?

The Armenian and the Azerbaijani media are full, at present, with speculations about a possible war in the South Caucasus. This is, unfortunately, not excluded, although all logical thoughts lead not to a war – but what means logic in this context. Fact is that many soldiers have already lost their lives and even civilians have been shot or wounded. So creative solutions are requested.

This leads to the possible call for peacekeeping troops. Indeed, they should be deployed rather sooner than later, when there is still a bit of peace existing; otherwise they would have to overcome a lot of difficulties, if those could be overcome at all. As usual, it is better to intervene at an early stage than too late. Of course, there should be a consent who should come. This consent should include Armenia and Azerbaijan.

There is much discussion now about Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh. This would if at all accepted with a grim face of the two mentioned countries, and by Nagorno-Karabakh. Russia has a security agreement with Armenia, and at the same time sold weapons for four billions USD to Azerbaijan – so its credibility can be heavily criticised. No country could have better expressed its interest in having no peaceful settlement.

NATO or US troops would not be accepted by Russia, and everything including US troops even as peacekeepers may be considered as too much of an „intruder“. Although of course possible, it may be perceived as a certain provocation which might need a lot of efforts to explain. OSCE troops as such are not likely; the OSCE has observers only in likewise conflicts. UN troops are theoretically possible, but if one looks to some African missions by the UN I think under efficiency criteria it should be avoided, if possible, that the UN which otherwise is also rather inflexible (UN Security Council) should be switched in in an operative way.

However, the EU – which has not yet been asked but can submit the offer to Armenia and Azerbaijan – could and should be ready for a new role as peacekeeping power. The region is limited, the task as well, the supply ways to it may lead via Turkey which is not only NATO Partner but also associated to the EU. Another way could lead via Georgia. The EU is, from outside and inside, more and more asked to take over a higher responsibility in world politics, above all in its own backyard. It is not suspect to remain too long in comparable missions – just in contrary. Its mandates are repeatedly discussed, also in parliaments and this on EU and Member State level. EU troops would be accepted as nobody can have anything against the EU, and this in Azerbaijan, in Armenia, but also in Nagorno-Karabakh. As long as nobody would start shooting, it can be expected that any EU peacekeeper force would behave as much „gentlemen-like“ as imaginable, including cooperation of the troops in civil reconstruction, and this on both sides of the front line.

There is also one more reason for an EU-led peacekeeping force: the Eastern Partnership. This could be the first real opportunity for the Eastern Partnership to prevent actively any conflicts on its territory. And if Georgian ,Moldovan or even Belarusian troops should be included (the latter do not include the President), why not? Ukraine may be too heavily charged with its troops at present, and Azerbaijani and Armenian inclusion into the peacekeeping forces should normally be excluded.

Of course, this makes only sense if both sides are ready to negotiate at the same time. This could be a task for the summit meeting in Sotchi/Russia on 8th August 2014. Russia should have all interest to return to the table with the EU and prove that its government can also be rational. It may make sense also for the OSCE Minsk Group, and if not possible there, also for a new round, this time under the auspices of the EU.

And it needs a keen but realistic vision for the EU, which here could show it can look beyond its Member States‘ horizons. The Eastern Partnership framework is, of course, the backyard of the EU, even explicitly.

Hans-Jürgen Zahorka

Chief Editor, European Union Foreign Affairs Journal



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.

OSCE 2013: Welcome Mongolia, and Ukraine: Attention, You Will be Watched

The OSCE is not the easiest organisation, but it has proven to follow a solid policy in the sense of the majority of its member states, i. e. pro Human Rights, democracy, freedom of press etc.

In this context it may be useful if it is pointed out that some weeks ago, the OSCE has a 57th member state – Mongolia. This signalizes a political choice of a country surrounded by states like China, Russia, Kazakhstan. So welcome, Mongolia, and it can be considered a choice of confidence. In my opinion, Mongolia will be a non-problematic member of the OSCE.

Another member state has taken over today the presidency of the 57: Ukraine. This country is more problematic. This has to do with its demands to herself, like joining sooner or later the European Union. Nothing against this at all; enlargement is always the most successful aspect of any EU foreign policy, and welcome to the Ukrainians! But a country close to the EU wanting to join the club is always under closer scrutiny than a country further away.

According to an OSCE press release from today’s 1st January 2013, the country „will seek to make progress on resolving
protracted conflicts, strengthening conventional arms control, combating human trafficking, reducing the environmental impact of energy-related activities, and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms as OSCE Chair in 2013 the new OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara, said…“. It is correct when the Minister underlined „his country’s role and experience as a co-mediator and guarantor in the Transdniestrian settlement process and
welcomed the momentum achieved in these talks over the past year. He stressed the need to continue to make progress in this and other protracted conflicts in the region.“ This is correct, and maybe the Ukrainian chairmanship can change something to the positive in Transdniestria, Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh and South Ossetia. He should be wished all the best when he says; „We must re-energize negotiations within the existing formats and prevent any escalation in tensions. The resolution of protracted conflicts must remain the highest priority for the OSCE and all participating States”.

This sounds after all very well and is also realistic, together with some other accents on arms control and confidence-building measures, the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office stated, as a way of strengthening security and military stability.

But there is another wish to Ukraine, too: Strengthening democracy at home, a correct handling of human rights, of elections (about which some weeks ago the OSCE election observers issued a devastating assessment), of the non-interference in the judiciary – and all this in an evident, uncomplicated, uncontested way. I have often heard the argument that some CIS countries, like Ukraine, cannot achieve within 20 years what other states – e.g. in Western Europe – have achieved since World War II (Germany), since 1789 (France) or since the 13th century (Great Britain with the habeas corpus act). Come on please, information today is global, education too, discussion too, and of course nobody would blame Ukraine for details in this field, but in general today we all live in an era with common goals, to which the preservation of power does not belong. So nobody in Ukraine lives still on the back of the moon.

The European Union Member States have just been witness of an OSCE chairmanship by Kazakhstan, not either the yolk of an egg. But it was good to go there and discuss openly, and perhaps it could contribute to an open-minded and free mass media there in the future (not during and right after te OSCE year of the country). As soon as Ukraine will have a system which is not anymore determined by corruption, by political trials, by full fundamental freedoms, then nobody in the EU will have anything against „the“ agreement EU-Ukraine. This must be taken into account by the Kiev government. The OSCE press release from today says „Emphasizing that protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms and implementation of existing OSCE commitments in this area remain an important integral part of the OSCE’s concept of comprehensive security, Leonid
Kozhara said that Ukraine’s Chairmanship would promote fight against human trafficking, support media freedom and encourage meaningful steps in a number of human dimension issues.“ Great what he wants to achieve. But has he the freedom to do so by his own government, apart from human trafficking? There are a lot of doubts, and they are permitted. And if he wants to get rid of FEMEN, the fancy female movement which has brought a new, drastic, colourful demonstration culture to Ukraine (like „Pussy Riots“ to Russia) – then, Minister, it is very easy: Just change a couple of things within Ukraine, and then FEMEN will be obsolete. But at present they are necessary in your country.

Let’s wait until 17. January 2013. Then the Minister will present Ukraine’s priorities to the OSCE Permanent
Council in Vienna. Let’s wait if it will be an apparatchik’s speech, or something which can bring Ukraine closer to the European Union, as its citizens desire it (and please do not forget: The EU cannot be blackmailed with a possible approach to Russia!). What you say, Minister, may upgrade your country as valuable interface to Russia, why not!

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

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)


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