Over 60 French politicians appeal against EU gas agreement with Azerbaijan

The Coordinating Council of Armenian Organizations of France (CCAF), in agreement with 61 political leaders in France, has published an appeal in the major daily Le Monde against EU’s gas agreement with Baku, freelance journalist Jean Eckian informs.

The signatories urge the European Commission to abandon the project of gas import from Azerbaijan and call on the Heads of State and Government of the European Union, as well as the European Parliament not to ratify an agreement, which, they say, “would have the effect of replacing dependence on Russian gas with dependence on Azerbaijani gas.”

“The 44-Day War of fall 2020 illustrated Azerbaijan’s appalling intentions,” they write, reminding that during the war Turkey recruited jihadists to help the Azerbaijani army in the war, and noting the use of phosphorus bombs prohibited because of the human and ecological disasters they can cause.

The politicians also emphasize the torture of prisoners of war held in Azerbaijani jails in disregard for international conventions. They warn that by choosing Azerbaijan as a gas supplier, European commission president Ursula von der Leyen is actually weakening the European Union and urge her to abandon the project.

Below is the list of signatories:

Sabrina AGRESTI-ROUBACHE, MP for Bouches-du-Rhône; François ALFONSI, MEP; Emmanuelle ANTHOINE, MP for Drôme; Clémentine AUTAIN, Member of Parliament for Seine-Saint-Denis; Serge BABARY, Senator of Indre-et-Loire; Jérémy BACCHI, Senator of Bouches-du-Rhône; Azad BALALAS, Departmental Councilor of Bouches-du-Rhône; Julien BAYOU, MP for Paris; François-Xavier BELLAMY, MEP; Pierre BENARROCHE, Mayor of the 6&8th arrondissements of Marseille; Christophe BEX, MP for Haute-Garonne; Benoit BITEAU, MEP; Etienne BLANC, Senator of Paris; Stéphane BLANCHET, Mayor of Sevran; Manuel BOMPARD, MP for Bouches-du-Rhône; Geoffroy BOULARD, Mayor of the 17th arrondissement of Paris; Valérie BOYER, Senator of Bouches-du-Rhône; Sophie CAMARD, Mayor of the 1&7th arrondissements of Marseille; Damien CAREME, MEP; Marie-Arlette CARLOTTI, Senator of Bouches-du-Rhône; Luc CARVOUNAS, Mayor of Alfortville; Lauren COHEN, Senator of Val-de-Marne; David CORMAND, MEP; Gwendoline DELBOS-CORFIELD, Member of the European Parliament; Karima DELLI, Member of the European Parliament; Claire PITOLLAT, MP for Bouches-du-Rhône; Brigitte DEVESA, Senator of Bouches-du-Rhône; Gilbert-Luc DEVINAZ, Senator of the Rhône, President of the France-Armenia Friendship Group; Olivier FAURE, Member of Parliament for Seine-et-Marne; Rémi FERAUD, Senator of Paris; Bernard FOURNIER, Senator for the Loire; Christophe-André FRASSA, Senator representing French people living outside France; Claude GRUFFAT, MEP; Jean-Noël GUERINI, Senator of Bouches-du-Rhône; Sylvie GUILLAUME, Member of the European Parliament, President of the French delegation of Socialists and Democrats; Yannick JADOT, MEP; Didier JAU, Mayor of the 4th and 5th arrondissement of Marseille; Patrick KARAM, Vice-President of the Ile-de-France Region; Anthony KREHMEIER, Mayor of the 2&3rd arrondissements of Marseille; Julie LAERNOES, Loire-Atlantique Deputy; Pierre LAURENT, Senator of Paris; Arnaud Le GALL, MP for Val d’Oise; Constance LE GRIP, Deputy for Hauts-de-Seine; Emmanuel MANDON, Deputy for the Loire; Marie-Pierre MONIER, Senator of Drôme; Renaud MUSELIER, President of the South Region; Pierre OUZOULIAS, Senator for Hauts-de-Seine; Benoît PAYAN, Mayor of Marseille; Anne-Laurence PETEL, MP for Bouches-du-Rhône; Anna PIC, MP for Manche; Didier RAMBAUD, Senator for Isère; Bruno RETAILLEAU, Senator for Vendée, President of the Les Républicains group in the Senate; Michele RIVASI, Member of the European Parliament; François ROCHEBLOINE, Honorary Deputy; Caroline ROOSE, Member of the European Parliament; Lionel ROYER-PERRAULT, MP for Bouches-du-Rhône; Isabelle SANTIAGO, MP for Val-de-Marne; Mounir SATOURI, MEP; Sylvain SOUVESTRE, Mayor of the 11 & 12th arrondissements of Marseille; Sarah TANZILLI, Member of Parliament for the Rhône; Marie TOUSSAINT, Member of the European Parliament; Martine VASSAL, President of the Bouches-du-Rhône Department, President of the Aix-Marseille Metropolis; Sonia ZDOROVTZOFF, Assistant to the Lyon City Hall for International Relations, Cooperation and Solidarity.

Major human rights groups have also criticized the EU deal to ramp up gas supplies from Azerbaijan.

Earlier this month the European commission president, Ursula von der Leyen hailed Azerbaijan as a “crucial” and “reliable” energy supplier, as she announced an agreement with Baku to expand the southern gas corridor, the 3,500km pipeline taking Caspian Sea gas to Europe.

Under the agreement, gas supplies to the EU from Azerbaijan are forecast to reach 20bn cubic meters a year in 2027, up from 8bn currently. Supplies are set to increase to 12bn by 2023.

Human Rights Watch said the EU should not have signed the memorandum, nor enter a mooted new bilateral agreement, without insisting on political reforms: the release of scores of political prisoners and changes to laws that heavily restrict non-governmental organizations and the media.

Azerbaijan uses oil and gas “to silence the EU on fundamental rights issues,” said Philippe Dam, acting EU director at Human Rights Watch. “The reality is that Azerbaijan authorities have been famous for cracking down on civil society activists investigating corruption, especially when it comes to oil and gas.”

“The EU should not say a country is reliable when it is restricting the activities of civil society groups and crushing political dissent,” Dam said.

Other campaigners accused the EU of undermining its climate goals, while enriching autocrats. “It is extraordinary that the EU seems intent on not learning from its current predicament, and is pushing to build more pipelines which would lock us into gas in the long term,” said Barnaby Pace, a senior gas campaigner at Global Witness. “A rapid boost for renewable energy and home insulation should be the obvious answer to the crises Europe is staring at – and certainly not repeating the mistakes that have taken us to this point.”

Eve Geddie, director of Amnesty International’s Brussels office, said “repressive and unaccountable regimes are rarely reliable partners” and added that “privileging short-term objectives at the expense of human rights is a recipe for disaster.”

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