EU criticizes Azerbaijan’s government for the political situation in the country

The EU has sharply criticized Azerbaijan’s government for the political situation in the country in the  2014 ENP Country Progress Report released on March 25.

The paper says there was a “regression in the democratic transition process and with regard to human rights and fundamental freedoms, e.g., the freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, and freedom of assembly.”

It says the situation of civil society organizations deteriorated considerably due to the introduction of a more restrictive legal framework and that “a number of prominent human right defenders were detained, travel bans were issued, and bank accounts of civil society organizations were frozen.”

The EU urges Baku to improve the situation regarding democracy and human rights in the country and to create a more conducive political and legal environment for civil society.

As regards the Karabakh conflict, the report said: “2014 marked the 20th anniversary of the 1994 ceasefire agreement in relation to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict against the background of a continued stalemate. The security situation on the ground remained a matter of serious concern amid unprecedented incidents and casualties since 1994, as well as rise in confrontational rhetoric and a continued arms race.”

It says that in 2015 Azerbaijan should focus on stepping up efforts towards reaching a comprehensive peace settlement in accordance with the commitments made in the Minsk Group; refraining from actions and statements that could heighten tension and undermine the peace process; creating an environment conducive to making progress in resolving the conflict and to encouraging and supporting related peace-building activities; ensuring that EU representatives working in support of conflict transformation activities have unimpeded access to Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding regions.”

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