ArmInfo. Today, at a plenary session in Strasbourg, the European Parliament adopted a report on relations between the EU and Azerbaijan. Vice-Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs Zeljana Zovko worked on the report as a European Parliament Rapporteur and this is the first comprehensive European Parliament report since 2018 on EU-Azerbaijan relations. The report assesses the state of relations between the EU and Azerbaijan in the light of the current geopolitical uncertainty.
As Zovko herself said, "the report highlights Azerbaijan's key role as a strategic supplier of fossil fuel energy to the EU: "whereas the South Caucasus is strategically placed in the global energy market and Azerbaijan is a strategic supplier of energy (especially oil and gas) to the EU; whereas it is becoming increasingly important in this role given the need for the EU to diversify its energy supplies".
"Although it is in the interest of the EU to develop strategic cooperation and economic integration with Azerbaijan, it must also continue to promote human rights and democratic standards in the country. Respect for freedom of speech and the rights of minorities also contributes to peaceful coexistence and security for all in the South Caucasus," Zovko said and added that this approach should be followed in the negotiations on a new bilateral agreement between the EU and Azerbaijan.
The report also notes that "the armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno- Karabakh, which over the years has caused immense suffering and destruction, has significantly hampered the development and stability of the whole South Caucasus region and impacts wider European stability; is convinced that sustainable peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan cannot be achieved through military means and the threat of use of force, but requires a comprehensive political settlement in accordance with international law, including the principles enshrined in the UN Charter, the 1975 OSCE Helsinki Final Act, in particular the three principles of non-use of force, territorial integrity and self-determination, the OSCE Minsk Group's 2009 Basic Principles, as well as the agreements reached between the parties, including the 1991 Alma-Ata Declaration; reaffirms that, in order to be effective, a comprehensive peace treaty must include provisions that guarantee the integrity of Armenian sovereign territory, the rights and security of the Armenian population residing in Nagorno-Karabakh and other conflict-afflicted areas and the prompt and safe return of all refugees and internally displaced people to their homes; calls on the international community to remain seized of this conflict, which concerns the stability and security of the whole region"
"I welcome the increased diplomatic activity of the EU in this area and call on the EU to be an impartial mediator in the region through preventive diplomacy, including by promoting interfaith and intercultural dialogue," Zovko said. In addition, she stressed that the EU should not repeat the mistakes of the past, when malevolent actors used its passivity to increase influence in the region.
In conclusion, the report takes a candid approach to issues in the region and highlights the importance of maintaining a positive and constructive relationship between the EU and Azerbaijan. Building strong EU relations with neighboring countries is critical and the adopted report can serve as a basis for future cooperation.