EP South Caucasus Report Falls Short of Addressing Regions Issues

STRASBOURG, France–the European Parliament Thursday adopted a resolution calling for a stronger presence for the European Union in the South Caucasus while inadequately addressing the blockade of Armenia, the Karabakh Conflict, and Turkey’s ongoing denial of the Armenian Genocide, reported the European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy.
The final draft of the European Parliament’s report on the South Caucasus, entitled, "On a more effective EU policy for the South Caucasus: From Promises to Actions," was adopted during a plenary session of the European Parliament by a vote of 567 to 25, with 27 amendmen’s.
The report on Azerbaijan outlines serious concern about the deterioration of the human rights situation and media freedom in Azerbaijan. It calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to ensure freedom of the media, to release immediately all journalists remaining in prison, and to end the harassment of journalists. The European Parliament, however, maintained its respect and support for the territorial integrity and internationally recognized borders of Azerbaijan, as well as its right to self-determination according to the UN Charter and the Helsinki Final Act.
The resolution condemns the situation of refugee’s in the South Caucasus but fails to mention Azerbaijan’s role in creating the situation.
"The resolution would have been clearer if it clarified that among the three countries, only Azerbaijan is guilty of maintaining its refugees in an unacceptable state of misery, and that its leaders constantly threaten that they will restart war against Armenia," Leylekian noted. "By citing Azerbaijan, the European Parliament would have been in accordance with other international organizations, such as the Council of Europe, OSCE and the UN, which have already denounced the actions of Azerbaijan’s leaders as heinous crimes."
"The report remains insufficient in the settlement of the Karabakh conflict and the biased and aggressive role of Turkey in the South Caucasus," declared the executive director of the European Armenian Federation, Laurent Leylekian.
The European Parliament also pointed to the European Neighborhood Policy and called on Georgia, Turkey, and Azerbaijan to include Armenia in the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzerum gas pipeline.
"The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway project bypasses the existing and fully operative rail line in Armenia," the report noted. It qualified the practice, as shortsighted, politically motivated and a violation of ENP principles of sound development.
The resolution reiterated call upon Turkey to engage in "serious and intensive efforts for the resolution of outstanding disputes with all its neighbors." It, however, fell short of calling upon Turkey to recognize the Armenian Genocide. It instead called upon Turkey to enter into "serious and open discussion on past events." The issue of the closed borders between Armenia and Turkey were also addressed in a limited fashion, with the report merely repeating earlier calls on Turkey to open the border.
"The resolutions vague reference to the Armenian Genocide is disappointing," Leylekian said. "By not clearly and freely mentioning the Armenian genocide perpetrated by Turkey, the European Parliament introduces into the core of Europe the taboo established by Turkish denial."
In regards to political reforms in Armenia, the resolution commen’s the internal political and institutional reforms undertaken by Armenia following the constitutional reform and in the context of implementation of the ENP Action Plan and "encourages the Armenian authorities to continue on this path and to make further progress in strengthening democratic structures, the rule of law and protection of human rights."
In regards to Georgia, the European Parliament gave continued support to Georgia, while noting the turbulent political developmen’s of November 2007, which escalated into a violent police crackdown of peaceful demonstrations, the closing-down of independent media outlets and the declaration of a state of emergency.
Referring to the Armenia’s of Javakhk, the resolution also called upon Georgia to respect minority rights within the framework convention for the protection of national minorities.
Ignoring a number of key issues in the region, the report ultimately concludes that the EU needs to develop a stronger presence in the South Caucasus.
"But it is not by giving up its values that the European Union will support peace and stability in the South Caucasus region," Leylekian concluded.

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