The European Commission published the annual Eastern Partnership progress report on 12 countries (on developments in 2012 on March 20, 2013 and with a set of recommendations for the future), including one on Azerbaijan, the organization's official website said.
The progress was noticed in fighting against money laundering and trafficking of human beings. An increasing number of Azerbaijani students and researchers benefited from different European programmes in the education area.
Negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict regrettably slowed down in 2012.
On the basis of this year's report and Azerbaijan is invited to: continue implement the Human Rights Action Plan adopted in December 2011; step up efforts together with Armenia to reach agreement on the Madrid Principles in accordance with the commitments made by the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan in the framework of the Minsk Group; provide unconditional access for representatives of the EU to Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding regions; ensure unimpeded access to representatives of the EU to Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding regions in support of conflict transformation activities in full complementarity with the Minsk Group activities; promote an environment conducive to progress in the conflict settlement, encourage and support related peace-building activities; adopt the Law on Defamation which provides for the abolition of criminal liability for defamation and insult; bring electoral legislation into line with the OSCE/ODIHR recommendations and ensure effective implementation.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 per cent of Azerbaijan since 1992, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group - Russia, France and the U.S. - are currently holding peace negotiations.
Armenia has not yet implemented the U.N. Security Council's four resolutions on the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding regions./Trend/