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EU Eastern Partnership Assembly Ends In Chaos

Representatives at the EU's Eastern Partnership Ministerial Meeting in Brussels in December 2010
BRUSSELS -- The first proper session of an assembly bringing together lawmakers from the European Union and further east has ended in disharmony, with the 110 members failing to agree on their first resolution.

The Strasbourg session of the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly brought together 60 members of the European Parliament and 10 deputies each from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.

The assembly, which was formally inaugurated in May, is meant to provide a parliamentary forum to the EU's Eastern Partnership program, aimed at forging closer ties with East European countries through trade agreements and visa liberalizations.

Euronest was supposed to pass a strong resolution at its session ending September 15, including wording on the need to speed up visa-free travel; to facilitate trade agreements; and to insist on the countries' eligibility to one day become EU members.

But the session was marred by several recounts of votes, problems with interpretation, and hostile discussions which prevented the lawmakers from agreeing on concrete proposals.

Problems started after Armenia objected to the draft resolution's wording on territorial integrity and proposed several amendments, two of which were rejected. An angry exchange ensued between the Armenian and Azerbaijani delegations.

The dust-up was an obvious spillover from Armenia and Azerbaijan's long-running dispute over the breakaway Azerbaijani region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Various delays due to recounts, discussions, and voting confusion then made most MEPs leave the chamber to rush to a vote in the regular European Parliament plenary.