EU DECIDES TO SLOW DOWN
By Sargis Karapetian

Yerkir.am
May 19, 2006

On May 15 the European Union made an unexpected decision to postpone
approval of the Action Plan for the South Caucasus. The EU's foreign
political relations commissioner Benita Ferero-Waldner announced this
decision in Brussels.

Waldner stated a new round of negotiations will be held with Armenia,
Georgia and Azerbaijan. "The negotiations will be held as soon as we
see that the parties are ready for them. I hope we will be able to
reach an agreement," Waldner stated.

The statement was made on the day when the third round of EU-Azerbaijan
negotiations was to be held. Neither Azerbaijan nor EU representatives
have made any comments on this. It can be assumed that Baku and
Azerbaijan failed to come to an agreement on the position of the Greek
Cyprus which had protested against Azerbaijan's attempts to establish
relations with the self-proclaimed Turkish Cyprus Republic. Media
report that Baku and Nicosia failed to overcome their disagreements
and Cyprus, being a member of the EU, uses its right to veto.

Meanwhile, the Azeri political scientist Rasim Musabekov believes
Brussels's decision derived from the EU's special approach to the
Karabagh conflict and Azerbaijan's territorial integrity.

Musabekov says, "The documents EU signed with Moldova and Georgia
clearly state that territorial integrity should prevail." This means
that EU supports the territorial integrity of these states. "Azerbaijan
insists on a similar wording but EU seems hesitant to agree," Musabekov
stressed. Political analysts note that this is what prevents the
parties to start the discussion of the action plan.

Azerbaijan seems to include its ambitions towards Nagorno Karabagh into
the action plan for cooperation with the European Union. However, it
has miscalculated its chances forgetting that on the one hand France,
an EU member, participates in the Karabagh settlement process, and
on the other hand, EU does not want to be a direct mediator leaving
this mission to the OSCE Minsk Group.

Georgia hopes for EU to directly engage in the settlement of conflicts
on its territory. Meanwhile, EU states that it is ready to assist
economically with post-conflict rehabilitation. EU has a similar
position on Nagorno Karabagh. EU has strategic objectives in the
region, one of them being use of transit routes that have been unused
because of the conflicts. This is why EU supports regional cooperation.

Azerbaijan is an obstacle for such cooperation since it refuses to have
any cooperation with Armenia until the final settlement of the Karabagh
conflict using Turkey and Georgia to bloc cooperation attempts. The
South Caucasus Stability Pact was discussed on May 12 in Brussels.

The discussion was initiated by the Parliamentary Assembly of the
Council of Europe. Radio Liberty reports, head of the OSCE department
at the Armenian Foreign Affairs Ministry Varuzhan Nersissian stressed
in his statement that the Stability Pact can work only if two
preconditions are satisfied: first and most important, political will
and the willingness of the parties, second, there must be a clear-cut
perspective, a promise that the South Caucasus states can join the
EU in the future, just like it happened after the Stability Pact was
signed in the Balkans.

Meanwhile, Azerbaijan's Ambassador to the Council of Europe Mamadarov
once again voiced Baku's demand for Azerbaijan's territorial integrity.

Azerbaijan seems to ignore the European Union's interests and go
against European integration policies rejecting cooperation and
trying to preserve its right to resort to force. Such a position goes
against the EU's interests. The latter, meanwhile, has not yet found
the right leverage to influence Azerbaijan.