European Parliament Calls for Targeted Sanctions Against Azerbaijan

The European Parliament on Thursday adopted a resolution calling on targeted sanctions against Azerbaijani authorities, demanding an immediate end to the crackdown on civil society and human rights activists.

The resolution asks the European Council to consider targeted sanctions and visa bans against Azerbaijani politicians, judges and officials involved in political persecutions. It also asks the European Union authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into allegations of corruption involving President Ilham Aliyev and his family.
The resolution also urges that “the negotiations for a Strategic Partnership Agreement with Azerbaijan should be immediately put on hold as long the government fails to take concrete steps in advancing respect for universal human rights.” The resolution was adopted by 365 votes to 202.
The resolution calls on the Commission “to review and suspend temporarily, if needed, all funding not related to human rights, civil society and grassroots level people-to-people cooperation granted to Azerbaijan through the European Neighborhood Instrument, and recalls Parliament’s decision to send a delegation to Azerbaijan.
“To tell them that Mr Aliyev should release all political prisoners sends a strong message to this dictatorship’ she said. ‘Nobody can enjoy impunity over human rights violations. It is not because you have a lot of oil money that you can buy silence on fundamental matters such as human rights,” European Parliament member Michèle Rivasi told Armenpress shortly after the resolution was adopted.
The resolution states that negotiations toward a Strategic Partnership Agreement with Azerbaijan should be suspended as long as Baku makes no progress on human rights.
“This will have an impact on the current negotiations for a Strategic Partnership Agreement because Europe is not only about economics, it is also about values,” argued Rivasi. “It should be a ‘more for more’ situation. Azerbaijan needs to accept the values that are upheld in Europe.”
During the debate on the resolution European Parliament member Marietje Schaake referred to cases of Azerbaijani journalists and human right activists who have been handed lengthy prison sentences after trials deemed unfair by many international organizations.
“Human rights abuses have systematically increased in Azerbaijan with excessive sentences for journalists such as Khadija Ismayilova and human rights defenders Leyla Yunus and her husband’,”she said.
A member of the European Parliament who visited the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic last week, Jordi Sebastia, brought up the repeated cease fire violation by the Azerbaijani Army.
“The regime of Mr Aliyev does not recognize fundamental rights and in addition he wants to destabilize the situation in neighboring countries. There are recurring attacks on the border with Armenia,” said Sebastian, adding that “there has been no progress on Nagorno-Karabakh and there has been no help at all for the democratic countries in the Caucasus.”
The lawmaker also made reference to a recent expose, which aired on French national television about what has come to be known as Aliyev’s “Caviar diplomacy.”
“We saw on French television that there are issues regarding corruption, corrupt politicians and the impact it has on the European Union. Nevertheless the EU seems to regard Azerbaijan as a partner. How is this possible? How can they benefit from any partnership given that they don’t share our principles and are actually trying to demolish them?” asked Sebastian.
The European Parliament will not send a delegation to Azerbaijan to monitor its elections in November because it considers that “under the present conditions this will be futile and will only serve to legitimize a deeply flawed electoral environment.”

10 September 2015