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HUMAN RIGHTS AND EU INTEGRATION

Human Rights and EU Integration
Human Rights as the universal value today is the main pre-requisite for any country in the world. For the protection of fundamental and constitutional rights, Azerbaijan, together with other eastern partnership countries, took obligations to make reforms in the various fields. The country has been implemented progress in the implementation of obligations in the sphere of democratization and fundamental human rights. Together with progress, there are still existing disagreements between EU and Azerbaijan which is the main obstacle for proper integration of Azerbaijan to EU. 
According to EU, human rights are still a serious issue and being violated in Azerbaijan. In the last resolution of European Parliament says that human rights activists are being arrested, the situation with democratization and human rights are not according to the requirements of EU in Azerbaijan. The EU Parliament resolution “calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to cease their harassment and intimidation of civil society organizations, opposition politicians, and independent journalists and to refrain from interfering in or undermining their valuable work for the development of democracy in Azerbaijan”.  In addition, the parliament has expressed its regret for “the fact that the EU-Azerbaijan human rights dialogue has made no substantial progress as regards the human rights situation in the countries and has called on the EEAS to step up its dialogue with a view to making it effective and result oriented.” In line with its concern for civil society in Azerbaijan, the resolution calls for amendments to NGO legislation with a view to a simplifying registration of NGOs and repealing restrictive measures against them.
Azerbaijan is currently part of the EU’s Eastern Partnership program. Several bilateral and multilateral frameworks of cooperation are in place, including European Neighborhood Action Plan. Azerbaijani government has signed the special agreement on cooperation with EU where coincides several steps in the integration of this country to EU. Visa liberalization, educational exchange and trade cooperation are on agenda of the agreement. Recent resolution by EU Parliament on civil society and human rights situation demonstrated the strict position of EU to Azerbaijan. EU Parliaments resolution demonstrates dissatisfaction regarding the steps made by Azerbaijani government on human rights area. According to EU Parliament resolution, there are tens of political prisoners and civil society activists in prisons in Azerbaijan and they have to be released unconditionally and immediately. All these actions came to the result while Azerbaijan is not in the hurry to join any international union as well as to EU Association Agreement.
Together with Azerbaijan, the last attempts of EU to include Armenia for signing the Association Agreements failed, as Armenia decided to join the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). Since 2008 year in Armenia are happening massive killing of protestors at presidential elections, several human rights activists are being detained, threatened and some human rights activists with their families immigrated to Azerbaijan for asylum seeking. Armenian law prohibits torture, inhuman or degrading treatment. There were no tangible developments on bringing national law to criminalize torture into line with Article 1 of the Convention against Torture. This does not feature in the Human Rights Action Plan. The current definition of torture does not include crimes committed by public officials. There were no tangible developments regarding ill-treatment in police custody. There is concern about the use of coerced confessions in trials and the failure to investigate defendants’ allegations that confessions have been obtained using torture. Reports from monitoring groups confirm that ill-treatment and police violence continue to take place mostly during arrest and are not properly addressed in courtrooms.
Alongside with large and serious violations on human rights and unfulfilling obligations, Armenia decided to integrate more to Eurasian Economic Union. Armenian commitment to democracy, human rights, the rule of law are considered in the new agreement covering political, economic and sectoral cooperation taking into account Armenia's international obligations. In the report of the implementation of European Neighborhood Policy 2014 says that there were no tangible developments in the implementation and enforcement of legislation on human rights and fundamental freedoms in Armenia. Shortcomings stated in previous progress reports, such as the lack of trust in the judicial system and the fight against corruption persisted. In the report, it says that human rights defenders, journalists and other people with minority views on controversial issues, such as gender issues and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, continued to face intimidation, harassment, threats and abuse in Armenia. Media independence remained insufficient and there were no developments regarding pluralism in the broadcasting media and transparency of media ownership. Awareness of international human rights instruments and Armenia’s human rights obligations remained low among national institutions, including the judiciary and law enforcement bodies. So as we see, together with international commitments of Armenia, in particular, its decision to join the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), it took certain obligations in front of (EEU) and resulted in avoiding implementation of certain obligations on human rights and fundamental freedom of this country in front of EU.
As the result Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova took a big step toward closer ties with the EU as they signed Association Agreements with the EU. The association agreement will significantly deepen political and economic ties with the EU in the framework of the Eastern Partnership. As the EU has expanded, these countries have become closer neighbors, and their security, stability and prosperity increasingly affect the EU’s.  
Vugar Ahmadov, Contributor, Strategic Outlook
Director of Institute for Conciliation and Human Rights Research
7.02.2016 - Hit : 2167


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