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The Azeri Times



The fifth summit of the EU Eastern Partnership, which was held on November 24 in Brussels, can perhaps be called the most not confrontational one.

Both on the margins of the summit and in the final declaration, its participants decided to avoid caustic language regarding Russia, which looks with caution at the emerging new pro-European axis.

In the final document, unlike the previous declaration-2015, Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is not mentioned, and the signed EU-Armenia integration agreement took into account Yerevan’s obligations in the Moscow-backed agreement of the EurAsEC.

In order to further the EU’s rapprochement with its eastern neighbors, to increase their prosperity and stability, 20 tasks were agreed, covering four areas until 2020:

1. Strengthening the economy: economic development and market opportunities, small and medium-sized business access to credit, expansion of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T)

2. Strengthening governance: strengthening institutions and good governance, implementing anti-corruption mechanisms, judicial reform;

3. Strengthening links: accessibility, energy efficiency, environment and climate change, reducing the cost of roaming;

4. Strengthening society: mobility and communication between people, opening of the “European School of the Eastern Partnership” in Tbilisi.

According to the European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy Johannes Khan, these 20 goals are “in the interests of each individual citizen” of the countries in the region.

“I would like the wording of the declaration to be more ambitious, but we all decided that demonstrating our unity is the most important goal,” Chairman of the European Council Donald Tusk.

The summit was marked by the signing an agreement on Armenia’s partnership with the EU. This compromise document, as the sides note, took into account Armenia’s participation in Russian interstate projects and Russia’s interests in this country. The document focuses mainly on the further democratization of Armenia, which in the spring of 2018 will make the transition from a presidential-parliamentary republic to a parliamentary one.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that a similar document is planned to be signed with Azerbaijan, where Moscow’s positions are also strong. “In these countries, relations with Russia play a central role,” the chancellor said.

British Prime Minister Teresa Mei, in which the foggy Albion began the procedure of leaving the EU, allowed herself to be more frank: “Hostile countries like Russia threaten the growth of the Eastern Partnership and are trying to break our collective strength.”

I must admit that this time Russia’s position on the summit was more restrained than it was before. And the very fact of deepening cooperation between the Russian outpost in the South Caucasus – Armenia and the EU, indicates that the Kremlin believes there have been positive changes in the perception of the strengthening of the role of the EU in the post-Soviet space.

This restructuring of Russian views on the European perspective gives Azerbaijan the opportunity to offer the EU an ambitious platform for cooperation. After all, unlike Armenia, Azerbaijan is not burdened with obligations within the framework of the EurAsEC, the SCO, the OCDB, and so on. And in this case, the unification of laws and regulations is not so problematic.

Now, after the signing the Armenia-EU agreement, it is more difficult for Azerbaijan to justify the postponement of European integration, referring to Moscow’s unwillingness and threats.

Today it becomes clear that the delay in the official process of European integration by Baku is more connected not with the desire to transition to the democratization of the country, which previously was justified by the Russian threat and the unresolved Karabakh conflict. In the last issue, the EU also went to meet, making a call to compulsory observance of the principle of territorial integrity of states in the final declaration.

With such concessions to Russia and the EU, all the preconditions are set for Azerbaijan to sign an agreement with the EU next year.

“In February of this year, we began active negotiations in connection with the new agreement. I hope for soon completion of these talks,” Aliyev said at the EU Eastern Partnership summit in Brussels.

However, this seems unlikely in the light of the forthcoming presidential election-2018. Baku, referring to the crucial moment, will still try to maintain a balance between the demonstration of loyalty to Moscow and the promise to Brussels to become more European.

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The Azeri Times



Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov during his visit to Brussels met with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, the press service of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry informs.

According to the information, the sides exchanged views on the development of relations between Azerbaijan and the European Union.

Elmar Mammadyarov stressed the importance attached to the development of Azerbaijan-EU relations, and touched upon the issues of cooperation in energy, transport, trade, humanitarian and other fields of mutual interest.

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The Azeri Times



‘Azerbaijan is an important partner for the European Union, whose independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity fully supported by the EU,’ stated High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini, while making remarks following the EU – Azerbaijan Cooperation Council meeting.

Mogherini’s statement on Azerbaijan can be considered unprecedented if one looks at the diplomatic lexicon used by her. The fact is that she used word ‘fully.’ Statements in support of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan have repeatedly sounded since 2015 in the speeches of the President of the Council of the European Union, Donald Tusk, and Mogerini herself.

However, the word ‘fully’ was used in the official statement of the European Union for the first time. Mogherini’s statement became a logical continuation of a qualitatively new trend in the approach of the European Union to the problem of preserving the territorial integrity of the partner countries, and in particular Azerbaijan.

The start of this process was given at last year’s Brussels Summit of the Eastern Partnership, where, largely thanks to Azerbaijan’s intransigent position, support for the territorial integrity of all participants of the EU Eastern Partnership was stated in the Final Declaration. Mogherini, by her statement of February 9, defined this process with regard to supporting the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

It is also noteworthy that Mogherini’s statement was made the day after the program speech of President Ilham Aliyev, delivered on February 8 at the congress of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party. Recall, it was at this congress that the leader of the party, Ilham Aliyev, was nominated as a candidate for the Presidency of Azerbaijan. In his keynote address, President Aliyev praised progress in relations with the European Union and stressed the clear position of all EU institutions on the issue of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

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Eastern Europe


The Azeri Times



Police and protesters have clashed in central Kyiv as several thousand people took to the streets of the Ukrainian capital to call for the impeachment of President Petro Poroshenko and the resignation of the country’s top prosecutor.

Kyiv police said at least 32 security officers were injured in confrontations with protesters who attempted to storm the October Palace concert hall near Independence Square — the site of the months-long 2013-14 protests that ousted former President Viktor Yanukovych.

Many protesters were supporters of opposition leader Mikheil Saakashvili, the former Georgian president who is now an opposition leader in Ukraine.

Protesters attempted to enter the concert hall after Saakashvili said he planned to set up his headquarters there. But police and National Guard forces moved to prevent them from going inside. The ensuing clashes included the firing of tear gas and the use of fire extinguishers.

Police accused protesters of throwing firecrackers and deploying an “unknown gas,” adding that criminal investigations had been opened into attempted seizure of a public building, threats and violence against law enforcement officers, and impeding law enforcement work.

Saakashvili distanced himself from the attempt to storm the October Palace, saying that he wanted to “rent two rooms there” and that the clashes were “President Poroshenko’s game and provocation.”

“I denounce any [attempts] to break windows, because, once there are millions of us, these doors and these windows will open themselves. We don’t need to break them, people,” Saakashvili added in an interview with RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service.

The actions of the protesters outside the building drew rebukes from Western diplomats in Kyiv.

Canadian Ambassador Roman Waschuk said on Twitter that “attempts to seize and damage public buildings are an abuse of the right to peaceful protests.”

Meanwhile, British Ambassador Judith Gough said she “completely” agreed with Waschuk’s criticism.

Amid a heavy police presence, the demonstrators earlier on December 17 marched through central Kyiv toward Independence Square.

They urged parliament to adopt legislation on presidential impeachment and called on Prosecutor-General Yuriy Lutsenko to step down.

The authorities have accused Saakashvili of abetting an alleged “criminal group” led by Yanukovych, who fled to Russia after his ouster in February 2014. They also have suggested that Saakashvili’s protests are part of a Russian plot against Ukraine.

Ukrainian police on December 5 tried to detain Saakashvili, who denies the charges against him, but supporters crowded around a police vehicle where he was held and then freed him.

He was again detained three days later, but a judge on December 11 turned down a request by prosecutors to place him under house arrest.

Lutsenko has said he will appeal the judge’s ruling and that Saakashvili will likely be extradited to Georgia, where he is wanted on charges linked to his time as president.

“We have an official request from the country, which we do not have the right to refuse,” Lutsenko told reporters on December 15.

However, Russian state-run TASS news agency quoted senior Georgian officials as saying the Caucasus country had not issued an extradition request.

While Saakashvili was in custody, thousands of people demonstrated in central Kyiv to demand his release and to call for Poroshenko’s resignation.

Saakashvili was president of Georgia from 2004-13. He lost his Georgian citizenship in 2015 when he accepted Ukrainian citizenship and took the post of Odesa governor.

Saakashvili resigned the position in November 2016, complaining of rampant corruption, and has since becoming an ardent opponent of Poroshenko.

In an interview with Current Time TV, the Russian-language network run by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA, Saakashvili said on December 12 that corruption had inflicted far greater damage on Ukraine than Russia had.

He added that he had no ambitions himself to become Ukraine’s president, saying the position should always be held by an ethnic Ukrainian.

The authorities “really think that it’s enough to shout ‘Russia’ and ‘agents of the enemy,’ and everyone will just buy that. People are not stupid. They didn’t buy it earlier, they’re not buying it now,” Saakashvili also said.

After Yanukovych was ousted, Russia illegally annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region in March 2014, and fomented a separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine that has killed more than 10,300 people since April 2014.

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