Enraged by Human Rights Criticism: Azerbaijan Threatens to ‘Review’ Relations with EU

Written by | Monday, September 14th, 2015

Azerbaijan threatened on Friday (11 September) to “review” its relations with the European Union after Brussels criticized its human rights record. In August, the authorities arrested a prominent Azeri couple campaigning for human rights and last week, Khadija Ismayilova, an investigative journalist and anti-graft campaigner, was sentenced to seven and half years in prison under corruption charges. Ismayilova had been probing the fortune amassed by the Aliyev family, who has ruled the country since its independence in 1993. Freedom House, the U.S.-based human rights group, estimates that Azerbaijan keeps behind bars around 80 political prisoners. Critics generally censure the Azerbaijani government for putting pressure on opponents after IlhamAliyev’s reelection for a third term in 2013. However, Aliyev strongly denies any human rights abuses and calls criticism a smear campaign.
The Azerbaijani foreign ministry issued a statement saying that”(Azerbaijan’s) relations with the European Union should be revised due to its anti-Azeri and anti-Islamic tendencies”. Last week, the European Parliament passed a non-binding resolution, which strongly opposes the “unprecedented repression against civil society in Azerbaijan.” The Parliament also called on the Commission to thoroughly investigate the corruption allegations against President Aliyev and members of his family.
In response, Baku said on Friday that it had decided to put off the visit of the EU delegation, which should come to continue the talks on the planned EU-Azerbaijan “strategic partnership” deal.Azerbaijan-EU relations have so far been governed by the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) signed in 1999 that has provided the legal framework for the mutual relations in the areas of political dialogue, trade, investment, and economic, legislative, and cultural cooperation. In 2013, a series of agreements were concluded making it easier for Azerbaijani nationals to travel to the EU.

Article Categories:
Asia-Pacific · GLOBAL EUROPE

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