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No New EU-Azerbaijan Pact Without Progress On Human Rights

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev (right) received European Parliament rapporteur Norica Nicolai in Baku in April.

The European Parliament has listed a number of conditions for deepening ties between the EU and Azerbaijan, including ensuring that fundamental freedoms are respected in the South Caucasus nation.

The lawmakers’ recommendation to negotiators working on a new EU-Azerbaijan “comprehensive agreement” was adopted 564-69, with 47 abstentions, at a July 4 plenary session in Strasbourg.

The parliament will "remain very attentive to developments in Azerbaijan and I hope we can work together to ensure that the necessary progress in terms of democratic standards can be achieved,” the European Parliament's rapporteur, Norica Nicolai of Romania, said.

Negotiations for a new agreement regulating the relationship between the EU and the oil- and gas-rich country were launched in February 2017. It would replace the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement that entered into force in 1999.

The deal will be less detailed than the Association Agreements the EU has signed with three other Eastern Partnership countries -- Georgia, Ukraine, and Moldova.

The legislators called on the European Council, the European Commission, and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to ensure that the strengthening of bilateral relations is “conditional upon it upholding and respecting democracy, the rule of law, good governance, human rights, and fundamental freedoms,” according to a press release.

No comprehensive agreement will be ratified with a country that does not respect “fundamental EU values and rights,” they insisted.

The lawmakers said European negotiators must ensure that Azerbaijan releases its political prisoners and prisoners of conscience before the negotiations are concluded.

Azerbaijan must also fight corruption, money laundering, and tax evasion, they added.

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