How has the Europe’s approach to territorial integrity changed?

AZERTAC has published an article entitled “How has the Europe’s approach to territorial integrity changed?”

News.Az presents the article authored by Konul Nurullayeva, Member of Parliament, Head of the working group on Azerbaijani-Croatian inter-parliamentary relations.

"In recent times, we observe a shift towards a unified approach to the issue of territorial integrity and national sovereignty in all institutes of the European Union. This year alone, three fundamental documents have been passed at the level of various official and competent authorities of the European Union, each expressing respect and commitment to territorial integrity. At the same time, the EU articulates specific parameters of the term “territorial integrity”, especially in relation to Azerbaijan. It becomes clear that the European Union's support for Azerbaijan's territorial integrity encompasses the internationally recognized borders, that is, the territory including the Nagorno-Karabakh region. All these documents serve to strengthen the legal framework for a fair settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. Thus, in the document named "Conclusions on the Future of the Eastern Partnership" adopted by the EU Foreign Affairs Council on 11 May 2020, the EU expressed its commitment to international law, including territorial integrity, independence, and sovereignty. It is no coincidence that confusing and controversial articles of Armenian analysts, alarmed after the adoption of that particular document, contained the announcements as if Azerbaijan was supposedly going to start military operations with the consent of the West. Later, on May 28, 2020, during a UN Security Council videoconference on cooperation between the UN and regional organizations, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell stated that support for national sovereignty and territorial integrity would remain a key element of EU relations with Eastern Partnership countries. On June 10, 2020, Marina Kaljurand, Chair of the EU-Azerbaijan Inter-parliamentary Cooperation Committee, Traian Basescu, Standing Rapporteur of the European Parliament on Armenia, and Zelyano Zovko, Standing Rapporteur of the European Parliament on Azerbaijan, signed the statement on the third highway that will connect Armenia and occupied Nagorno-Karabakh. The statement contained warning for Armenia. Ten days did not pass since Armenia had experienced the “cold shower” effect that the statement against Pashinyan’s separatists road “strategy” had on it, European Parliament adopted a more specific and principled document. The resolution adopted on June 19 and entitled “Recommendations to the EU Commission and the Vice President/High Representative of the Commission for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy for EaP Program on the eve of the June (2020) European Parliament summit” refers to the “Requirements for the European Union’s strategy in the South Caucasus”. The latest document contains a number of serious points that reflect the principled position of the European Union on territorial integrity. The most important is that it calls the territories captured by the Armenian armed forces as "occupied territories". It was also noted that the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Eastern Partnership countries have been breached due to unresolved regional conflicts, foreign aggression, and the continued occupation of some of these countries.

The document calls for an immediate withdrawal of foreign troops from all occupied territories. This call applies to the participants of the "Eastern Partnership", where the occupying forces are deployed.

The key point is that the document refers to gross violations of human rights during conflicts that emerged as a result of foreign aggression. In other words, the main emphasis in the document is put on the violated rights of Azerbaijani refugees and IDPs - the victims of Armenia's policy of aggression and occupation. Thus, the document leaves no room for paranoid claim of the Armenian side – the manipulation around the principle of self- determination of "Nagorno-Karabakh people" (?). Another clause of the resolution indicates that the country subjected to occupation has the right to use power in order to enforce its territorial integrity if they do not voluntarily withdraw their troops to their original positions, i.e., beyond the state border, which is accepted and supported by the European Union from now on. This is a support for Azerbaijan's right to use all possible options to restore its territorial integrity.

However, we should not forget that up to now, the European Union has tried not to take on great responsibility for the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, shifting it completely to the OSCE Minsk Group. Besides, unlike the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the EU demonstrated a more objective approach to similar conflicts in the South Caucasus region. In other words, the EU’s selective approach to conflicts has often disappointed official Baku. However, Azerbaijan has always been a reliable partner in relation to the European Union. Cooperation with the European Union is one of the main priorities of Azerbaijan's foreign policy, and the EU is a key trade partner of Azerbaijan. Our country plays an important role in ensuring the energy security of the European Union, which is considered equal to national security.

Azerbaijan has signed a document on strategic partnership with nine EU member states. Croatia, which is currently chairing the Council of the EU, is one of these strategic partners.

At a meeting where the resolution was adopted, Andrej Plenkovic, Prime Minister of Croatia–country chairing the Council of the European Union, said, “By strongly supporting the ambitions of countries aspiring for moving closer to the EU, Croatia contributes to the further development of relations between the countries of the Eastern Partnership and the EU. In this sense, it is important to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each state of the Eastern Partnership, especially in the context of a number of frozen conflicts. ” Thus, he emphasized the inconsistency of Armenia’s occupation policy with the Eastern Partnership, which is perceived as the position of the European Union.

When looking at this fair and principled position of Croatia as chair of the Council of the EU from the perspective of Baku-Zagreb strategic partnership, it becomes clear that the strategic partnership in interstate relations is characterized by mutual, adequate, and pragmatic provision of national interests. The strategic partner must also be an actor playing a key role in solving global problems. We see a real result of this in 25-year relations between Azerbaijan and Croatia.

Thus, the more objective position recently shown by the European Union on the issue of national sovereignty and territorial integrity, documents supporting our country and signed by persons who once criticized Azerbaijan, support of our strategic partners in the international arena, give us a reason to say that against the backdrop of complex geopolitical realities, Azerbaijan as a "middle power" (middle_power) can turn all diplomatic means into its perspective. Based on the experience of Azerbaijan, we determine that a smart foreign policy is the ability to use all available opportunities quickly and efficiently by coordinating the strategic objectives of the state and the real situation around the globe."


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