Yet Again EU Fails To Live Up To Values, Pushing Official Baku To Blocking EaP’s Final Declaration

Fuad Muxtarlı Analysis 15 May 2019
Yet Again EU Fails To Live Up To Values, Pushing Official Baku To Blocking EaP’s Final Declaration

The Brussels gathering of EU’s Eastern Partnership (EaP) program with top officials from the six member nations in presence has ended in an utter fiasco and has once again proved dual approaches of the pan-European organization to more or less similar issue. Speaking on behalf of a united and strong Europe, the EU cannot always demonstrate its adherence to the declared principles.

When the EaP program was first kicked off 10 years ago, expectation run high with regard to its complete success as all six nations are eager to cement all-out ties with Europe and take advantage of achievements to enrich own societies and move forward hand-in-hand with progress and cutting-edge technological decisions to pressing problems. Alas, as almost in most of the similar cases, Europe fails to live up promises and leaves young nations at the mercy of Russia – the nation with deterrent capabilities to choke every independent move of small nations in the neighborhood.

Azerbaijan has not signed the final declaration to mark the 10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership program as the document failed to address Azerbaijan’s woos and internally-agreed principles enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act and the UN Charter.

The final document was blocked by Azerbaijan. Our country demanded that the text of the final document include a clause supporting the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan in relation to the Nagorno-Karabakh occupied by Armenia.

Although sources in the EU do not want to share the details, it is obvious that Armenia came out against Azerbaijan’s proposal to include this item in the final declaration and the EU leadership did not have enough political will to name Armenia’s occupation as aggression against Azerbaijan.

Brussels has summed up the 10the anniversary of the Eastern Partnership project, an initiative designed to bring the six post-Soviet countries closer to the European Union. However, not everything goes so smoothly under the program.

The heads of the foreign ministries of the European Union and the Eastern Partnership lowered the status of the anniversary declaration on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the partnership, as the delegation of Azerbaijan expressed dissatisfaction with the text of the document, since it did not raise the issue of the country's territorial integrity, Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov was quoted as telling a high-level conference on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership program.

The draft declaration was not sufficient for Azerbaijan, he opined. Therefore, the declaration was made public by Mogherini, who chaired the ministerial meeting. The EU does not want to promise the prospect of membership to the countries of the Eastern Partnership in order not to wake their excessive expectations.

But the text of the declaration does not even mention the "European aspirations" of Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. And this is despite the fact that such a wording is present in the association agreements of these countries with the EU.

European Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy Johannes Hahn does not consider the declaration very important. In his opinion, one should remember the concrete achievements of the partnership. At the same time, Hahn pointed out that the unused potential of association agreements exceeds 75 percent. The European Commissioner advised Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova "to focus on this potential and not to ask again for something more". Hahn also said that Brussels and Minsk have completed work on the readmission agreement, and now they will have to find an appropriate place and time to sign it.

According to Petru Macovei, executive director of the Independent Press Association of Moldova, the Eastern Partnership, as a tool for EU support its eastern neighbors, has fully justified itself, and those countries that wanted to use this tool continue to use it to this day. However, Macovei sees the future of the program in its reform. “We need a different approach to our six countries,” he said. “The EU should act according to the principle “the better the results of cooperation, the more support from the EU,” including the financial one.

"Of course, the EU should take into account our European aspirations, as well as the interests of other participants in the program. In that Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova expressed their dissatisfaction with the final resolution of the EaP, he said, adding that the EU should take into account the interests of all countries belonging to this the program”. Ukrainian political analyst Alexei Yakubin believes that the EU is not ready to offer comprehensive plus categories to Ukraine and other countries.

“First, the Europeans ignored the question of joining the Eastern Partnership members to the EU. This is not mentioned in the text of the resolution following the summit, or even in oral statements. Moreover, on the eve of the summit, Angela Merkel said that the Eastern Partnership aimed at expanding the EU and should not give false hope to the members of the partnership. Therefore, the EU cannot yet create such a mechanism where wolves would be fed and the sheep are alive. And until the EU gives guarantees to EaP countries of a European perspective, none of the initiatives will give proper effect," the pundit said.

Meanwhile, by encouraging Armenia, the European Union thus provokes another occupation of foreign territories. How does it turn out that in assessing similar territorial conflicts, aggression of one state against another state is strongly condemned, and when it comes to the Karabakh issue, occupation is financially encouraged?

Double standards are back in action. Regarding the agreement between Baku and Brussels, we can say, and there are many questions unanswered. The Eastern Partnership, within which, in essence, a new modernized partnership between Azerbaijan and the EU will be built, is no exception. It is not worth expecting that after the signing of this agreement, the European Union will change its position on Karabakh. Brussels also will not make a difference between the aggressor and its victim.

Donald Tusk at Eastern Partnership celebration: "We are members of the same European family"

"There is more Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine in the EU, and - I believe - there is more EU in all of your countries than ever before. We are not only neighbors - we are members of the same European family," European Council president Donald Tusk said in Brussels on 13 May whilst welcoming the leaders of the Eastern Partnership countries for a celebratory event marking the partnership's 10th anniversary.

"The Eastern Partnership has had its successes, its challenges, and also moments of high drama, as in November 2013, during the summit in Vilnius, where President Yanukovych rejected Ukraine's Association Agreement, which he later bitterly regretted. Today, after ten years, we can reflect on our achievements. Three of the six Eastern Partnership countries have Association Agreements that include deep and comprehensive trade areas. They also have visa-free arrangements with the EU. Billions of euros have been spent on border management, connectivity, environment and energy efficiency, support for business, legal advice, and education. Young people from Partnership countries participate in Erasmus. Much more still needs to be done, but there is no doubt that our partner countries have come closer to the EU, more than our other neighbors," he opined.

"As we celebrate our tenth anniversary, we are making a strong commitment to deepening our ties and cooperation. What kind of Eastern Partnership we will celebrate ten years from now depends on what we do, starting today. And I have trust in our common determination and imagination. So much has changed since we started our work but not our friendship and determination", president Tusk added.

To recap, though high optimism of EU officials, changes are in the pipeline soon after the May elections and changes would be unavoidable for both the six nations and the EU with EaP program. Hopes are that Europe as the venue of the WWII with colossal human and material losses will live up to both declared principles and humanistic principles and display common and justified approaches and will serve JUSTICE and avoid encouraging EVIL and Evil-Doing.