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Human Rights Group Calls For Progress In The Caucasus

9 December 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Human Rights Watch says ministerial-level meetings on 12 December in Brussels will give the European Union a "unique opportunity" to press Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia for concrete progress on human rights issues.

The EU has Partnership and Cooperation Agreements with the three Caucasus countries and is currently negotiating with them "action plans" that will set concrete benchmarks for progress in a number of areas, including human rights.

Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia have all promised improvements in human-rights compliance but Human Rights Watch in a statement dated 9 December said that despite limited progress in some areas, human rights violations continued to exist in the three countries. Among ongoing human rights problems the U.S.-based group listed torture, lack of independence of the judiciary, and restrictions on freedom of the press.

Holly Cartner, Europe, and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch said in a press statement that EU cooperation with Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia needs to include a public acknowledgement of these problems, if the EU wants to address them "in a meaningful way."