Azerbaijan is like a partner state in the European Neighborhood Policy

12.03.2012

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Azerbaijan, officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. The country is located at the crossroads of Asia and Europe. It is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to the south. Azerbaijan is a secular and a unitary republic. It is one of the six independent Turkic states.

1) The policy in two directions (West and East)

Azerbaijan has diplomatic relations with 158 countries and holds membership in 38 international organizations. It should be noted that Azerbaijan is actively involved in both European and Asian organizations. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 this state was admitted to the Organization “Islamic Conference”, which gives Azerbaijan the base for support from the Muslim world. A year later, on January 30, 1992, Azerbaijan was accepted as a member of the CSCE, and in March the Republic of Azerbaijan was admitted to the UN and at the same time joined the NACC (North Atlantic Cooperation Council), which played the role as a forum for cooperation and consultations. In January 1994, the NATO Council endorsed the program Partnership for Peace (PfP) and invited all Partner countries, which participated in the NACC, including Azerbaijan to the (PfP) program.

The country accepted the invitation and began to cooperate more closely with NATO. In October 1997, GUAM - the regional intergovernmental organization was created by former Soviet republics - Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova. In September 1998, the significant event was held in Baku according to the TRACECA program (Transport Corridor Europe-Caucasus-Asia) - an international conference organized by the Commission of the European Union. At the end of conference of the Commission of the European Union, the leaders of the participating countries signed an important document, “Multilateral Agreement on the development of transport corridor Europe-Caucasus-Asia”. In addition, the Baku Declaration was adopted by participators,which reflected the fundamental principles of full cooperation and regional integration between the Eurasian countries. In order to plan the work on the project of TRACECA ,a special “headquarter” was created in Baku. It has to be added that on 25 January 2001, Azerbaijan became the 43rd member of the Council of Europe.

2) History of Azerbaijan`s participation in the European Partnership (PCA)

The EU nominated its Special Envoy to Azerbaijan in 1998 and Azerbaijan established its Permanent Mission to the European Communities in 2000. Partnership and Cooperation Agreement was signed on April 22,1996 in Luxemburg between the EU member-states and Azerbaijan and then in July entered into force.The EU supports the economic reforms in Azerbaijan through TACIS (Technical Assistance to the Commonwealth of Independent States) program, which was established in 1991 with the purpose to provide technical assistance to the 12 countries of the former Soviet Union and Mongolia.

There are three areas of cooperation under the TACIS indicative program for Azerbaijan: infrastructure, private sector and human resources development. The EU’s broad objectives focus on the implementation of the PCA, reducing corruption through improving governance and the business climate, stimulating regional cooperation and encouraging the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Armenia.

Taking into account the objectives of the Partnership and Cooperation process, the Tacis programme can most effectively assist the partner country in facing the challenges by focusing on sectors: support for institutional, legal and administrative reform and support to the private sector and assistance for economic development. The Partnership and Co-operation Agreement shows the relations between Azerbaijan and the EU. Implementation of the PCA is a gradual process. The Tacis programme is the main tool for implementation the PCA. A dialogue on energy matters has started under the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. While the Indicative Programme does not include assistance for the energy sector.

3) Perspectives of development of Azerbaijan`s cooperation with European Union within the framework of European Partnership

Relations between Azerbaijan and the Union realize within the programs in different areas: promotion in economic and political reforms, creation of transport-communication corridor East-West (TRACECA), infrastructure development and other fields. Azerbaijan is seeking new forms of bilateral relations with EU, creates all the necessary institutions to get closer to the Union, demonstrates the intention to integrate into the European area of economics, politics and security. Azerbaijan has always had a positive attitude to the EU’s plans related to strengthening cooperation between the three countries in the South Caucasus and later on the integration of these states in the form of union in the EU.

4) Threats and Challenges of Azerbaijan within the framework of its cooperation with European Union

Azerbaijan is muslim country and at the same time has a literate, tolerant population, the educated elite who respects cultural values and is democratic in nature used to be closer to European values. What about the risks which Azerbaijan can face?

- Conflict with Armenia. Azeris continue to strive for a peaceful resolution of the conflict with Armenia. Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Armenian population of autonomous republic of Nagorno-Karabakh required separation this land from Azerbaijan and the establishment of an independent state. As a result of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which lasted until 1994, Azerbaijan has lost (de-facto) its autonomous republic, and 20% of the territory, and Nagorno-Karabakh has not yet been recognized by any state of the world as an independent state. At this time, negotiations are held under the auspices of the Minsk Group OSCE related to the settlement of the conflict.
- The growth of extremist sentiments. 90% of Azerbaijan’s population is Muslim. In the 20th century Islam played a role of tradition more than religion. Currently, azeri scientists and experts agree that Iran has a negative effect on the revival of new aggressive religious movements in Azerbaijan. The challenge for the government of Azerbaijan is the elimination of extremists and democratic approach to the faithful people.
- The solution of the status of the Caspian Sea. The status of Caspian Sea is necessary to be solved in order to realize an independent policy in the oil and gas production from the bottom of the sea. Iran, Russia, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan have agreed to a solution about their sectors.

Conclusion

Azerbaijan is ready for a closer cooperation with the European Institutions and for providing reforms in all priority directions: human rights, liberalization of economy, education, transparency of elections, freedom of speech.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

EU-Azerbaijan Partnership and Co-operation Agreement(PCA), Baku 2002.

A.Yunusov, Azerbaijan in the early of 21 century:Conflicts and potential threats, Baku 2007, p.4.

http://files.preslib.az/projects/azerbaijan/rus/gl8.pdf 

http://www.mfa.gov.az/eng/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=550&Itemid=1

http://eeas.europa.eu/azerbaijan/csp/nip_04_06_en.pdf

Wikipedia

Author: Parvin Alizada

Collegium Civitas, International Relations