The commencement of Azerbaijan’s Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe was memorable with exciting moments.
The most exciting moment is that how the Great Europe is crumpling in the name of this organization. The speech by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev at the PACE session and his controversy with parliamentarians are a quite interesting source in order to analyze the current state of Azerbaijan-EU relations.
In fact, theses in the president’s speech and his controversy with parliamentarians revealed the main parameters of Azerbaijan’s policy in relation to the European institutions:
a) Europe can not behave with Azerbaijan as an “elder brother”, Azerbaijan sees Europe as an equal partner that is able to ensure mutual interests
b) In general, the economic and political future of Europe depends on Azerbaijan’s energy projects. Europe must accept this reality in relations with Azerbaijan.
c) Azerbaijan has no problems with markets for exporting its energy resources, if Europe is preferred, the continent’s political institutions must have political compensation. Because the only need of Azerbaijan from Europe is to remain committed to its decisions and principles and observe international legal norms.
d) Europe can not use issues such as human rights and democracy as a mean of pressure on Azerbaijan. Because Azerbaijan protects human rights and conducts the process of democratization not for the demands of Europe but for the welfare of its people.
Why these parameters? Because unlike European institutions, Azerbaijan accepts the realities of the day, pursuing a pragmatic policy. The biggest current reality is that from year to year Europe is becoming weaker rather it is weakening itself. Today, we are face-to-face with Europe that is weakening itself through its double-standard policy. And the main question of the day – “Why is Europe pursuing double-standard policy?”. The response to the question….
The source of problems in Europe is not only the creation of a single economic and political space. The root of the problem is that the process of forming a single European space has not been completed yet.
Europe has not agreed on common interests yet and the countries’ foreign policy, in many cases, differs from a single political course especially in the field of energy policy. It is enough only to recall that the EU countries have different political views to get rid of Europe's energy dependence on Russia.
Moreover, Europe has not yet established political institutions with powerful influence mechanisms and the principles of the establishment of the EU do not allow the establishment of such institutions. Therefore, the activities of the European Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe which should assume the function of the fundamental political columns of the continent and of other related authorities are declarative in most cases.
This is the weakness of Europe, which gives it opportunity to have double standards in the Eastern policy and particularly in respect to the post-Soviet space.
Hiding its weakness through double standards, Europe returns to the starting point - is weakening further. And… the balance is changing in favor of the countries exposed to the double standard. The structure of the controversy with Ilham Aliyev at PACE’s latest meeting proved it obviously.
The controversy with the head of state revealed another reality: “The attitude of the states not having energy dependence on Russia towards the post-Soviet countries is different from the attitude of the countries carrying this dependence as a heavy load. This is factor impeding the European integrity - the participating countries don’t bear the same responsibility for the idea of united Europe. For example, the idea of a united and strong Europe of the Scandinavian countries, France and Germany differs from the Eastern European countries’ tendency. Economic factors are causing this difference. Economically developed countries, that have solved their energy problems, highlight Europe's political interests, while other countries its economic interests. Thus, it results in a difference between the attitudes of Romania and Norway towards Azerbaijan, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, even towards the Transnistrian conflict. This serious difference is called DOUBLE STANDARDS that pulls Europe back and reduces its value.
Europe's vision of the post-Soviet space has been based on one principle for many years – not let political conflicts, consequences of conflicts enter Europe.
This approach runs contrary to the continent’s policy of European integration in respect to the Former Republics of the USSR. This is a real double standard, because you can not remain indifferent to the problems of society, of which integration you want. European institutions’ position towards the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is based on these double standards.
War, occupation and aggression are the most favorable conditions for human rights violation. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has violated the rights of many people to property, life, education and health. First of all, the conflict should be settled and its consequences should be eliminated for the restoration of the rights of over one million people.
And, charges related to human rights should not be directed to the protection of only a part of the society. Human rights protection in Azerbaijan should be primarily understood as the restoration of natural rights of over one million of refugees and internally displaced persons. However, we see its contrary in approach of European institutions. When we analyze the controversy of the Azerbaijani President with the parliamentarians at the PACE session, we can see Europe’s double standards. European parliamentarians are interested in rights of sexual minorities or persons sentenced to imprisonment for any criminal act rather than rights of over one million refugees. Double approach is also observed in the appointment of rapporteur for political prisoners and adoption of resolution condemning Armenia’s aggressive policy.
The Europeans can introduce this double approach as a manifestation of democracy, but first of all the Europeans, not we, should be interested in a negative impact of the extreme democracy on political weight of the European institutions in the world. Europe, in the worst case, is a market where we export energy resources. However, President Ilham Aliyev’s speech, thesis, which he focused on, showed that Azerbaijan wants to see Europe not only as economic market, but also as a partner supporting the values that it announced. Europe needs this partnership more than Azerbaijan. Because in this situation, Europe can get rid off energy dependence with the help Azerbaijan.