BRUSSELS (Hurriyet)–The European Union has called on Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia to continue legislative and judicial reforms in progress reports for 2009 that were published earlier this week.
Following a recommendation by the European Commission, the EU decided to offer Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia privileged relationships in June 2004 within the framework of the European Neighborhood Policy, or ENP, to develop links with the EU, including through action plans.
“Further strengthening the ENP is no less than an investment in the EU’s own stability and prosperity – and this must be reflected in our offer to our partners,” Stefan Fuele, EU Commissioner for Enlargement and ENP, said Wednesday in Brussels.
“Economic reforms have progressed remarkably across our neighborhood, both east and south. What is essential for the future is to go up a gear on democratic and political reforms, where progress has been real but generally slower,” he said.
Addressing Georgia, Fuele said he was convinced that Tbilisi remained on course toward aligning itself to EU legislation, although free trade with the EU “might not be fully compatible with ultra-liberal ideas” pursued by the Georgian government.
The commission’s report on Azerbaijan said Baku “made some progress in the implementation of the ENP Action Plan, notably in areas related to economic and social governance,” Azerbaijan’s News.az reported on its website Thursday.
“It maintained a low inflation rate compared with the previous year and stable unemployment levels. The country fared comparatively well during the year despite the global financial crisis, which allowed the government to increase social spending and capital investment,” the report said.
The report was also positive about energy cooperation between the EU and Azerbaijan, saying: “Good progress was made on energy cooperation with the EU on the basis of the Memorandum of Understanding on a strategic partnership in the field of energy. Progress was also made through Azerbaijan’s support for the development of the southern gas corridor, including Nabucco.”
Discussing Armenia, the report commended the country’s launch of a regular human rights dialogue with the EU and the improved legislative framework in the area of anticorruption and the strengthening of human rights.
In regard to the post-election violence in 2008, the report said, “Armenia took positive steps to address the internal political crisis following the February 2008 presidential elections, including the amnesty issued in June, the amendments to the criminal code and the publication of the report by the Parliamentary Ad Hoc Inquiry Committee,” the report said.
Notably, the country “should make further efforts to ensure thorough follow-up of the recommendations of the report by the Ad Hoc Parliamentary Inquiry Committee on the events of March 2008, improve electoral standards and further reform of the Prosecutor’s office.”
The report further said enhanced dialogue between the ruling political forces and the opposition would be beneficial.