The EU Delegation to UN and OSCE in Vienna issued a statement in response to the address by the minister of foreign affairs of Azerbaijan, Jeyhun Bayramov. The statement reads as follows:
“The European Union warmly welcomes Foreign Minister Bayramov to the Permanent Council and thanks him for his address and his personal engagement in this forum.
“Azerbaijan is an important partner for the EU. We have an interest in continuing and strengthening our good cooperation, particularly on energy, reforms, trade, and investments. Connectivity and energy are key elements of the EU’s Economic and Investment Plan, which aims to mobilise substantial public and private investments in Azerbaijan, amounting to up to €2 billion. Azerbaijan plays a key role regarding connectivity, in developing the Middle Corridor linking Europe to Central Asia and beyond and in the diversification of energy sources and transport routes, notably via the Southern Gas Corridor. In July 2022, a Memorandum of Understanding on a Strategic Partnership in the Field of Energy was signed in Baku. Moreover, negotiations for a new comprehensive EU-Azerbaijan agreement are ongoing, and the EU is committed to continuing the negotiations with a view to finalising them soon. We call on Azerbaijan to abide by the principle of good neighbourly relations and to commit itself to act in full respect of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all EU Member States.
“The EU is convinced that strengthening the rule of law, human rights and democratic institutions is in the long-term interest of Azerbaijan, to ensure an independent, stable and prosperous country. During the recent meeting of the Subcommittee on Justice, Freedom, Security and Human Rights and Democracy in Brussels on 22-23 May, the EU welcomed Azerbaijan’s commitment to take steps towards strengthening the judiciary, establishing effective mechanisms to fight corruption, and modernising public administration to make it more transparent in line with EU standards. At the same time, the EU noted that further steps are required to ensure the independence and impartiality of Azerbaijan’s judicial system and expressed concerns about the continuous persecution of independent voices. The EU also recalled the opinion of the Venice Commission on the 2022 Media Law and their 2023 opinion on the new Law on Political Parties, and voiced concern that these laws could affect the political pluralism and the enjoyment of the right to freedom of association in Azerbaijan. The EU is a key reform partner of Azerbaijan and stands ready to support Azerbaijan in pursuing meaningful reforms.
“In line with the EU’s principled position against the death penalty at all times and in all circumstances, we welcome Azerbaijan's signing of Protocol 13 to the European Convention on Human Rights last March, which bans the death penalty in all circumstances, and we look forward to its ratification.
“Mr. Chair, the EU encourages positive engagement of Azerbaijan with the OSCE in all three dimensions, and a constructive approach and flexibility on the urgent adoption of the necessary decisions to ensure the effective functioning of our Organisation and all its structures, particularly on the Unified Budget and budget-related issues. The OSCE must continue to be able to offer support to all participating States that require it.
“The EU warmly welcomes the renewed engagement of Azerbaijan and Armenia in the EU-led peace negotiations in Brussels on 14 May, during which both sides reconfirmed their recognition of each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity. The meeting in Chisinau on 1 June, with the participation of the leaders of France and Germany, further demonstrated their commitment to the process. We emphasise that negotiations and dialogue are the only way to achieve a just and comprehensive peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Consequently, continuity and concrete outcomes in the dialogue are crucial for the process, and we welcome Baku's participation in the next EU-facilitated meeting on 21 July, where further progress should be made.
“We call upon Azerbaijan to develop a positive agenda that safeguards the rights and security of the Armenian population in Nagorno-Karabakh. The current situation is concerning, and has been causing a negative humanitarian impact, as the ethnic Armenian population has been repeatedly facing disruptions in essential energy and communication services, while the reported frequent ceasefire violations raise serious concern about their well-being. If that is still the case, we urge Baku to take concrete steps to lift constraints on the ethnic Armenian population by ensuring stable energy supplies and allowing maintenance to take place on the electricity grid. Furthermore, we call on all sides to refrain from hostile rhetoric and instead promote a narrative that builds trust and creates an environment conducive to peace negotiations. Further confidence-building measures, particularly regarding the release of prisoners, should also be taken. The EU will continue to offer support for demining activities and we emphasise the importance of cooperation between the sides to determine the mine-affected areas.
“In conclusion, Minister Bayramov, let me reiterate the EU’s commitment to continue working towards a secure, stable, peaceful and prosperous South Caucasus for the benefit of all people living in the region.”