Author: Jakub Csabay
This policy paper examines the relations between the EU and Azerbaijan. It focuses on the vertical and horizontal coherence of the EU foreign policy towards Azerbaijan and identifies key politically contested areas the EU should focus on in reformulating its position towards the country. These policy recommendations are aimed at the EU and interested member states in the context of the negotiations and finalisation of the new agreement between the EU and Azerbaijan to be signed in 2017-2018.
STRATPOL Policy Papers are flagship periodic publications from our experts and external contributors. Our topics centre around European and Transatlantic security with special focus on the South Caucasus, Wider Black Sea area and the Balkans. We try to introduce and analyse current security topics from the point of view of Central Europe and provide clear policy outcomes or recommendations.
With regard to the overall policy of the European Union towards Azerbaijan, it is essential to further strengthen both internal and vertical coherence of the EU policies though increasing coordination:
- In terms of internal coherence between the European Parliament and the European bureaucracy.
- In terms of vertical coherence between individual member states and their policies in working towards common EU foreign policy goals, which particularly concerns the important trading partners of Azerbaijan.
In terms of the content of the new framework agreement, EU should aim to leverage on the politically contested areas, namely the formal recognition of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and the rule of law and human rights conditionality in Azerbaijan. If possible given the internal political realities concerning the two actors, there is a need to outline concrete steps to be taken by each party:
- In the resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict by the EU, for example, starting with the replacement of France’s co-chair position in the OSCE Minsk group with the EU’s.
- In the rule of law and human rights agenda by Azerbaijan, starting with the application of the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights by Azerbaijan.
- The European Union needs to focus on concrete and specific policies related to structural reforms in areas like justice sector, education, rural development and diversification of the economy; rather than on human rights in general, and use diplomacy to convince Azerbaijan that these are in its own interest in the first place.
All the above efforts need to be supported by the high-level diplomacy, which seems to have had a relatively successful record in the case of Azerbaijan.