Mogherini mission in the South Caucasus

By Arthur Dunn

F. Mogherini visit to Baku was the first after a rather tense relations between the EU and Azerbaijan. In recent time, the EU is constantly subjected Azerbaijan to sharp criticism against the policy pursued by Baku in the field of civil liberties, it is extremely inefficient measures aimed at improvement of the legislation, as well as the settlement of the Karabakh conflict.

 

Particularly harsh criticism of Brussels in Baku address contained in the European Commission report, published in March 2014, and that was probably the main reason for the refusal of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev participated in the Riga EU summit, held in May 2015 Moreover, in the run-up parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan held on November 1, 2015, the EU took the shelling of the authorities for the lack of a viable competition and pressure on the opposition. As a result, the OSCE has decided to suspend the work of the monitoring carried out by the mission in the course of the people's will in Azerbaijan through the day after the September 10, 2015 European Parliament resolution sharply condemning the human rights situation in Azerbaijan, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).

 

However, from the outset it was clear that the time the quarrel between the EU and Azerbaijan could not assume their full rupture. Implementation of the policy of "Eastern Partnership", carried out by the European Union in relation to Azerbaijan, was based mainly on cooperation in the energy sector. That is why in its quest to diversify routes and Caspian energy supply sources to the European markets, is designed to reduce, so dependent on Russian energy, Brussels has been steadily used and continues to use all the instruments of their foreign policy for the establishment of strategic partnership in the energy field with countries such as Azerbaijan. It is no coincidence that, while in Baku, F.Mogherini participated in the second meeting of the Ministerial Advisory Council on the project "Southern Gas Corridor". Following the meeting, it signed a Joint Declaration, which contains the intention of the countries involved in the construction of gas pipeline "Southern Gas Corridor", actively and fruitfully carry out strategic cooperation, aimed at the realization of this project. This suggests that the relationship between the EU and Azerbaijan will expand and grow stronger, and the draft agreement on strategic partnership, represented Azerbaijan at the Riga summit "Eastern Partnership", will once again be updated. As to Baku's position in relation to the EU, it can not fail to understand the importance that Azerbaijan plays in building the energy strategy of Brussels, particularly in the light of the Ukrainian crisis.

 

At the same time the EU is aware of today and all the difficulties that stand in the way of the membership countries of "Eastern Partnership" in the context of enlargement. Such an understanding is rising sharply due to the problems associated with the consequences of the Syrian crisis, which led to a huge number of refugees from the Arab countries, in the way of their "absorption" by Brussels. However, despite this, at the time, as the value of EU regulations require from Azerbaijan compliance, strategic interests of Brussels forcing him to close his eyes to move away from them.

 

During the visit F.Mogherini in the South Caucasus, Armenia became the second country to be visited by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. During her meetings with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian, representatives of the parliamentary factions and civil society discussed the internal reforms carried out in this country in recent years, the development of relations between the EU and Armenia, as well as the situation in the region. At the same time, it seems that policy complementarity of Armenia, which by virtue of its geographical position will always be forced to balance between Moscow and the ambitions of Western interests does not allow the EU to bring the country beyond their own interests, as well as ignore Yerevan's willingness to cooperate with Brussels in all areas of mutual interest within the framework of "Eastern partnership".

 

It is clear that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict cannot remain unresolved for an eternity, and sooner or later, this problem should be solved. The desire to shift the conflict from the "dead spots" experiencing both warring parties. The main features of this alternate is the resumption of hostilities on both sides, along with emerging from time to time, statements by officials officials of both Azerbaijan and Armenia on the need to resolve it.

 

That is why, within "Transatlantic Partnership" of the EU is trying to spread the "zone of influence" in the former Soviet countries, updating and improving its own package for the European countries of "Eastern Partnership". To achieve this goal the EU has developed a road map (A Democracy roadmap from Vilnius to Riga), aimed at expansion of cooperation with the countries of the "Eastern Partnership", which for the first time in Brussels contains the intention to strengthen the role of the EU in the resolution of protracted conflicts. According to statements by the head of EU diplomacy Kosyanchich Maya, "the current status quo in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is unacceptable for the EU and its peaceful settlement is a priority." However, while all this - only a declaration of intent, which creates a stalemate that does not involve in today's environment is no breakthrough in resolving the conflict. In addition, a dramatic confrontation between Russia and the West reduced to "no", and scarce opportunities for coordinated action on the part of intermediaries. Nevertheless, the current format of the OSCE Minsk Group remains indispensable, and initiatives related to the extension of its mandate and deployment in the conflict zone of permanent offices empowered to fix the violations, is being actively discussed.

 

"Updated Madrid Principles", containing a lot of shortcomings with respect to the referendum on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijani districts under the control of Armenian forces and the return of refugees, can be a starting point to break the deadlock. It is no coincidence that, while in Armenia, EU High Representative once again voiced the Union's position that no military solution to the Karabakh conflict does not exist, and expressed support for the Madrid principles of settlement of the conflict and the work of the OSCE Minsk Group.

 

Thus, the visit Federica Mogherini in the two South Caucasus countries - Azerbaijan and Armenia lags far behind the third country in the region - Georgia - in the way of their integration with the EU, it is a logical continuation of the policy of "Eastern Partnership", especially in view of the growing confrontation between the two key players in the region - Russia and Turkey, the consequences of which could go far beyond the scope of this policy.

 

 

21.03.21016

 

 

 
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