Members of the European Parliament have this week voted for a resolution condemning the human rights record of Azerbaijan and calling for targeted sanctions against President Aliyev and his current government.
Sanctions were called for by EU politicians and lawmakers after recent concerns were raised regarding Azerbaijan’s human rights record. Specific issues cited for the resolution include the arrest of journalists and human rights defenders, the lack of international cooperation and the intimidation of NGOs and foreign groups in the country.
During debates preceding the parliament’s decision French politician and MEP Marie-Christine Vergiat stated that the current regime in Azerbaijan should not be allowed to continue with its behaviour and criticised the EU for focusing on oil and gas only.
Many members of parliament called for an end to the Association Agreement between the EU and Azerbaijan, which would see an end to trade and political cooperation if it were scrapped.
The resolution passed noted that the European Parliament and the EU would seek to end partnerships between Azerbaijan and Europe if Aliyev’s regime did not adhere to demands made. Among the demands were the release of several imprisoned journalists and human rights activists and the repeal of laws which limit freedom of speech and the freedom of NGOs in Azerbaijan.
News of the resolution was warmly welcomed by some groups, who see it as a positive step towards promoting freedom in Azerbaijan. However, many critics see the move as little more than political posturing. Some groups have previously accused the EU of not doing enough to tackle authoritarianism in Azerbaijan and doubt the EU’s conviction to promote change within the oil-rich country, which remains a major source of much of Europe’s oil and gas.