Mitteilungen

Statement of 21 May 2019 on the recent blockage of courts in Armenia

STATEMENT BY THE CHAIR OF THE DELEGATION, MEP Sajjad KARIM

on the recent blockage of courts in Armenia
Brussels, 21 May 2019 -
"On 18 May, a court in Yerevan ruled that Armenia's former President Robert Kocharyan be released from prison pending the outcome of his trial.

Without prejudice to the principle of non-interference, we would like to express our concern regarding the Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's call on his supporters to block the entrances to all courts nationwide on 20 May, and for a mandatory, popular 'vetting' to be applied on all judges.

We fully acknowledge that the politicisation of judges is a matter of paramount importance in Armenia, and we count on the competent authorities, with the assistance of their international partners, to adopt and implement the structural reforms that are needed to ensure that a transparent and efficient judiciary, free from undue influences, will regain citizens' trust, as it is a prerequisite for the rule of law.

Meanwhile, we urge all public office holders to show wisdom and restraint, as was the case throughout last year's 'velvet revolution', act solely within the limits of the mandates vested upon them by the Constitution, and uphold the clear, indispensable division between the legislative, executive and judicial branches of power."

Statement on the occasion of the 8th meeting of the EU-Georgia PAC.

STATEMENT BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE DELEGATION, MEP Sajjad KARIM

on the eighth meeting of the EU-Georgia Parliamentary Association Committee.

Strasbourg, 28 March 2018 - "Yesterday and today, I had the honour to co-chair with Ms Tamar Khulordava, MP, the eighth meeting of the EU-Georgia Parliamentary Association Committee.

It was my last meeting in my capacity as Chair of the EP Delegation for relations with the South Caucasus.

Statement on the dropping of criminal charges against Mehman Huseynov

STATEMENT BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE DELEGATION, MEP Sajjad KARIM

on the dropping of criminal charges against anti-corruption blogger Mehman Huseynov

Brussels, 22 January - "Today, the criminal charges against anti-corruption blogger Mehman Huseynov have been dropped by the General Prosecutor's Office, upon recommendation from Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. In my capacity as Chair of the Delegation for relations with the South Caucasus, I very much welcome this positive development, and look forward to seeing Mr Huseynov be promptly released and reunited with his beloved ones. Naturally, I remain convinced that he should not have been imprisoned in the first place, that the due and fair process of law should always prevail and that arbitrary leniency of the President should not be necessary.

I also wish to commend our colleagues from the EU Delegation on their tenacious mobilisation, as their endeavours have certainly contributed to the prompt solving of this case, while providing comfort to Mr Huseynov in these difficult times.

I now call on the Azerbaijani authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all imprisoned political prisoners, journalists, human rights defenders and other civil society activists, and to fully restore their political and civil rights, in line with the European Parliament's recommendation of 4 July 2018 on the negotiations on the EU-Azerbaijan Comprehensive Agreement, its recommendation of 15 November 2017 on the Eastern Partnership and its resolution of 15 June 2017 on the case of journalist Afgan Mukhtarli.

I like to see the release of Mr Huseynov as a positive precursor to resolving this general matter, which in turn would allow for the further deepening of the relations between the EU and Azerbaijan, and for the signing of an ambitious Comprehensive Agreement."

Statement on the adoption of an urgency resolution on Azerbaijan

STATEMENT

BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE DELEGATION, MEP Sajjad KARIM

on the adoption of an urgency resolution

on Azerbaijan, notably the case of Mehman Huseynov

Strasbourg, 17 January - "In my capacity as Chair of the Delegation for relations with the South Caucasus, I have witnessed and supported the warming of relations between Azerbaijan and the EU. The last meeting of our Parliamentary Cooperation Committee, held on 7-8 May 2018 in Baku, was a resounding success: we took stock of Azerbaijan's role as a key energy partner for the EU and transport hub in the region, and we lauded its stability and spirit of tolerance, while stressing at the same time the importance to address fundamental issues of democracy and human rights.

The EU, as a champion of democracy, human rights and free speech across the globe, should not and must not turn a blind eye to the mistreatment of any individual by any government. No matter how exciting and how extensive the progress in international agreements may be, we must not abandon the individuals they are designed to benefit.

With these individuals in mind, there is much in the resolution that our Parliament must reinforce by calling on the Commission and EEAS to seek, and indeed, Azerbaijan to provide, adequate protections for those accused of these crimes. Guarantees of medical assistance, access to legal counsel and family visits must be found as a priority for all individuals listed in this resolution.

The strong relationship that we have built with Azerbaijan has already paid dividends and the granting of access to the EU Delegation to visit anti-corruption blogger Mehman Huseynov is a positive precursor to resolving the situation.

Our relations must always reflect our values, but equally they must always have respect for all of our partners.

In the resolution which they passed today, the Members of the European Parliament call on the Azerbaijani authorities to see that Mehman Huseynov - as well as other imprisoned political prisoners, journalists and political activists - be promptly released from jail.

In its recommendation of 4 July 2018 on the negotiations on the EU-Azerbaijan Comprehensive Agreement, the European Parliament recalled its position, as already expressed in its recommendation of 15 November 2017 on the Eastern Partnership, seeking that all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience be released and that the conditions be put in place to allow for the civil society's legitimate activities, before any agreement is signed.

The European Parliament will closely monitor the situation throughout the negotiations on the new, far-reaching agreement between the EU and Azerbaijan."

Statement on the parliamentary elections in Armenia

STATEMENT
BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE DELEGATION, MEP Sajjad KARIM

on the parliamentary elections in Armenia

Brussels, 10 December 2018 - "Yesterday's snap parliamentary elections in Armenia saw the large victory of acting Prime Minister Pashinyan's My Step Alliance. The new political landscape within the National Assembly of Armenia brings additional responsibility for the government to implement its reform agenda notably as regards the electoral framework and the fight against corruption.
The official Elections Observation Mission dispatched by the European Parliament was headed, like in 2017, by our colleague Ms Heidi Hautala, MEP. It found that these elections have been generally well administered, albeit within a short period of time. The overall absence of electoral irregularities and malpractices, such as vote buying and pressure on voters, allowed for a genuine competition. As a consequence, public trust in the process was high. We welcome these positive trends and wish to underline that the European Parliament stands ready to help the National Assembly of Armenia further improve electoral legislation ahead of future elections.
Our Delegation is especially grateful to the Elections Observation Mission for the work they have done on the ground on this very important occasion."

Statement on the event “2018: A Landmark for the South Caucasus”, 28/11/2018

STATEMENT

BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE DELEGATION, MEP Sajjad KARIM

on the event "2018: A Landmark for the South Caucasus"

which took place on the premises of the European Parliament on 28 November 2018

Brussels, 29 November 2018 - "Yesterday night's event was a great success and it was truly an honour for a lot of the people that I have worked side-by-side with over the years to come together as they did to celebrate our South Caucasus related achievements.

"What I originally took on as a job, genuinely has led to a very different place today where I feel that through the EU, we genuinely have managed to reach out through this Parliament and our sister institutions, in a way that is actually a fine example of how the EU can really add value. Not just on behalf of Member States and our citizens, but on behalf of citizens in countries with whom we are building our relations.

"Indeed, we have a number of celebrations in the South Caucasus this year. Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia have all had centenary celebrations of one form or another and all demonstrate the genuine value they place on their independence, on their sovereignty and on their genuine desire and wish to set a path for their people to do things in their own way, and that really has been one of the binding things in the EP delegation.

"So many of my friends and colleagues who attended last night: Andreas Mamikins MEP, Claire Moody MEP, Ramona Mănescu MEP, among others, have played a vital role in their own style and in their own unique way that has allowed us to interact with our partners within the region on a point of mutual respect, and indeed, understanding, and there really has been a need for understanding along this journey - there's no doubt about that.

"One of the things that I learned very early on from the interactions that I had, was the tremendous challenges and threats that all three of these countries have to face on a daily basis, simply because of their geography. We see that these forces are reaching out with their tentacles on a much more pervasive basis than I think any of us in Western Europe could have imagined. So in that sense, we have a tremendous amount still to learn from these three countries.

"None of this would have been possible though without the help of my South Caucasus counterparts, Co-Chairs Armen Ashotyan, Tamar Khulordava and Javanshir Feyziyev, as well as Ambassadors Tatoul Markarian, Natalie Sabanadze and Fuad Isgandarov who have been essential interlocutors for me and tremendously supportive throughout the years. Without them, neither their countries interest could have been served in the way they have done so, nor could our delegation on behalf of the EP have achieved anything for our partners in the way that we have.

"I must also thank my colleagues at the Commission and EEAS, Luc Devigne, Vassilis Maragos and Lawrence Meredith - to name a few - who have provided invaluable assistance during my tenure. We managed to establish great working relations between all our sister institutions, demonstrating that our delegation is a great example of how co-working should happen and I hope that it will continue way beyond my mandate."

Statement on the occasion of the 28/11 event, 2018: A Landmark for the South Caucasus

STATEMENT
BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE DELEGATION, MEP Sajjad KARIM

on the event "2018: A Landmark for the South Caucasus"
scheduled on the premises of the European Parliament on 28 November 2018

Brussels, 27 November 2018 - "Tomorrow evening, on the premises of the European Parliament in Brussels, a high-level networking event on the theme "2018: A Landmark for the South Caucasus" will take place.
This year has seen many positive developments in our relations with the three South Caucasus countries. Negotiations on a new comprehensive agreement with Azerbaijan are progressing well. Members of the European Parliament gave their consent to the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement signed with Armenia on the side-lines of the November 2017 Brussels Eastern Partnership Summit. The provisional application went as planned, despite the change of government brought about by the "velvet revolution"; subsequently, an EU-Armenia Parliamentary Partnership Committee with extended powers has been created and held its inaugural meeting. As far as Georgia is concerned, the Members of the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of an important resolution on the Georgian occupied territories ten years after the Russian invasion and then of a far-reaching report on the implementation of the Association Agreement.

For all these reasons, while the current legislative term is nearing its end, it seemed necessary to hold this high-level event bringing together the Ambassadors of the Eastern Partnership countries to the EU and the Members of the relevant European Parliament's Delegations and Committees, to discuss the achievements made so far and the challenges to come."

Statement on the adoption of the report on the implementation of the AA with Georgia

STATEMENT BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE DELEGATION, MEP Sajjad KARIM

on the adoption, in plenary,

of the report on the implementation of the Association Agreement with Georgia 2017/2282(INI)

Strasbourg, 14 November 2018 - "Today's vote in plenary, on the report on the implementation of the Association Agreement with Georgia, marks a new milestone in the history of our relations with this country.

More than four years after the signing, by the EU, of Association Agreements - including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) dimension - with Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, the time had certainly come to evaluate the effective implementation of these agreements, in line with our unwavering commitment vis-à-vis our closest allies on the EU's Eastern flank and with the continuous deepening of our relations.

As far as Georgia is concerned, the overall picture is of course flattering. This is not surprising at all, given that our successive Parliamentary Association Committee meetings have taken stock of the country's good progress and commitment in the implementation of the Association Agreement, may it concern harmonisation, legislative or administrative steps.

That being said, the report rightly points out that further actions are still needed, for example in the fields of labour law, environment protection or the fight on discrimination against vulnerable groups. I am confident that our Georgian partners will continue on the chosen path towards further EU integration, under the scrutiny of their Parliament and of a tenacious and well-mobilised civil society. We remain committed to assist them, in so far as necessary, to achieve these goals, so as to bring our relations to a new level, boost Georgia's economic and commercial integration with the EU, foster people-to-people contacts and create new opportunities for businesses."

Statement of 24 October 2018 on the inaugural meeting of the EU-Armenia PPC

"Today, I had the honour to co-chair with Mr Armen Ashotyan, MP, the inaugural meeting of the EU-Armenia Parliamentary Partnership Committee.

The EU-Armenia Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) was signed on 24 November 2017, in the margins of the last European Summit. It entered into provisional application on 1 June 2018, and received the MEP's principle consent on 4 July. A milestone in the history of bilateral relations between the EU and Armenia, ..."

Statement on the 10th anniversary of the deployment of the EUMM in Georgia

STATEMENT BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE DELEGATION, MEP Sajjad KARIM

on the 10th anniversary of the deployment of the EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM)

Strasbourg, 1 October 2018 - "Today marks the 10th anniversary of the deployment of the European Union Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM), in the aftermath of the Russian aggression of August 2008 and the signature of the Six-Point Agreement that ended the war.

For the past decade, the EUMM has decisively contributed to enhance security and stability in the region, conducting day and night over 65,000 patrols along the Administrative Boundary Lines (ABLs) wit Abkhazia and South Ossetia, thus facilitating the resumption of a safe and normal life - insofar as possible - for the populations who live in the vicinity of the ABLs, and building up confidence amongst the parties concerned, notably through its Hotline and its support to the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) meetings.

We call on the Russian Federation to honour its international obligations, and notably to grant the EUMM access to the occupied regions, in accordance with the aforementioned Six-Point Agreement. At the same time, we commend the Georgian authorities on their laudable readiness for dialogue, illustrated i.a. by the "A Step for a Better Future" peace initiative.

The EU's recent decision to extend the mandate of the EUMM for a further two years, until December 2020, is yet another proof of its commitment to contribute to a peaceful solution of the conflict, by negotiation and diplomacy."

Speech of 21 Sept. 2018 on the occasion of the 100th Anniversary of the Parl. of AZ

SPEECH

BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE DELEGATION, MEP Sajjad Karim

on the Solemn Meeting of the Milli Mejlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan
on the occasion of the 100th Anniversary of the Parliament of Azerbaijan


Baku, 21 September 2018 - "It was an honour and privilege to be in the Milli Mejlis today to celebrate 100 years of the Azerbaijan Parliament and to address such an esteemed gathering of guests, including Prime Minister Mammadov and Speaker Asadov.

"I would also like to thank President Aliyev for recognising the development in relations between the European Parliament and Azerbaijan."

"One hundred years ago, with the proclamation of the Azerbaijani Democratic Republic, Azerbaijanis made a choice. They chose to reject inequality, imperial domination, tyranny and subjugation. Democracy, tolerance, suffrage and equality became part of the very fabric of what Azerbaijanis sought from their homeland. A proud people in a secular country with firm roots and a strong individual identity encapsulating religion, culture, history - all in equal measure and with natural ease and finesse masking the tremendous sacrifice they made along the way to their modern day Azerbaijan.

"Once progressive ideals become part of a society, they become impossible to remove or permanently suppress. Less than thirty years after reaffirming its choices, Azerbaijan's place is assured, due to the tremendous challenges it has faced and its leadership, under President Aliyev, continues to navigate. Its people can stand tall and rightly proud of their homeland.

"Today as Parliamentarians we too face tremendous challenges. Many are natural, others not. Some the consequences of policy decisions made in the past. Others created by more immediate and sudden executive decisions. The culmination of which leaves our people uncertain as to how they will cope with the scope and pace of change inflicted upon them, whilst they appreciate change as a constant in history.

"Today they see the least visible part of their world rules based order being dismantled, whilst simultaneously they witness infrastructure projects erecting and transforming the globe. Indeed Azerbaijan's infrastructural development has formed a great crossroads at the centre of the world.

"But just as Azerbaijan constitutes a crossroads, so too does it find itself at a crossroads like many other of our nations and unions.

"Some nations today are adopting a policy of 'wait and see', with a view to adapting according to where things ultimately land with the attempted deconstruction of the rules based world order, whilst simultaneously seeking to continue to enjoy the benefits of a rules based system. We must all recognise that the people we represent will pay the ultimate price. Now is not a time to be timid in reaffirming our values.

"Our negotiations of the new EU-Azerbaijan Agreement require just that. The conclusion of the new EU-Azerbaijan agreement would represent an important upgrade in our relations. The negotiations offer an opportunity to broaden our areas of cooperation at a moment when Azerbaijan is seeking to diversify its economy. We welcome the interest in cooperation in sectors other than energy, such as transportation, tourism and the digital economy.

"We need to seize the momentum and intensify our work on the negotiations, with the objective to reach a final deal in the coming months. Our ambition should be to sign the new EU-Azerbaijan Agreement under the mandate of the current EU Commission.

"We should strive for an ambitious agreement from which both sides gain. Nevertheless, there must be flexibility and political will on both sides, particularly on sensitive regional issues. Azerbaijan should not ask the EU to commit beyond its competences.

"On trade, the agreement is to provide for a more solid basis to facilitate Azerbaijan´s convergence with the EU and international standards, and for its future membership of the World Trade Organisation. The agreement should result in a reduction of barriers to trade, improve the business environment and encourage sustainable development for the benefit of our citizens.

"Azerbaijan could and should commit (possibly with some transition periods) to a set of minimum WTO rules so that we can demonstrate value added by the agreement in the absence of immediately upcoming WTO membership.

"And while our cooperation intensifies, thanks to negotiations on the Agreement or finalisation of the Partnership Priorities, the human rights situation remains a challenge. We welcome the release Ilgar Mammedov, but we would like to call on the Azeri side to align the conditions of his release with the requirements of the ECHR ruling.

"In my capacity as Chairman of Delegation for relations, I have seen innumerable changes and leaps forward by Azerbaijan, and in every step forward I see the ideals of the 1917 republic. In every step forward, I see the ideals of tolerance and openness that unite Azerbaijani citizens, most notably displayed by the tremendous welcome I was given upon my arrival by the religious communities of Azerbaijan - Christian, Muslim, Jew and Zoroastrian alike - all coexisting in harmony and as equal citizens. From this as Europeans, I see we have much to learn with the growing scourge of Antisemitism and Islamophobia throughout Europe.

"Our dialogue on a Parliament-to-Parliament basis will continue - for without it our executives cannot function. We have much to deliver on a joint basis for our people, for our regions and ultimately we hope our EU-Azerbaijan relations are strengthened and deepened, based upon shared values and a commitment to world order and peace.
"From the people of Europe, I bring with me the best wishes of everyone from all 28 Member States of the EU for Azerbaijan's future. Congratulations on this momentous occasion."

Statement of 4 September 2018 on the European Partnership European School in Tbilisi

Mr Sajjad Karim, Chairman of the Delegation to the EU-Armenia and EU-Azerbaijan Parliamentary Cooperation Committees and to the EU-Georgia Parliamentary Association Committee

Brussels, 4 September 2018 - "The very first Eastern Partnership European School was inaugurated today, in Tbilisi, by Mr Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, and Mr Mamuka Bakhtadze, Prime Minister of Georgia.

It is the first time that a European School is established outside the EU. Thirty students from the six Eastern Partnership countries, aged 16 and 17, have been selected to receive top-notch European academic programmes recognised at international level.

This flagship initiative illustrates the EU's tangible support to youth and education in the region, in line with the 20 Deliverables for 2020 endorsed at the last Eastern Partnership Summit."

Statement of 14 June 2018 on the adoption of a resolution on GE occupied territories

Mr Sajjad Karim, Chairman of the Delegation to the EU-Armenia and EU-Azerbaijan Parliamentary Cooperation Committees and to the EU-Georgia Parliamentary Association Committee

Strasbourg, 14 June 2018 - "2018 marks a double anniversary for Georgia, as the country is celebrating the centennial of the proclamation of its short-lived but vibrant first Democratic Republic, and remembering the 10th anniversary of the Russian aggression of August 2008.

Despite the challenges posed by its difficult geopolitical situation, Georgia has firmly established itself as a front-runner among the Eastern Partnership countries. Unfortunately, the citizens of Abkhazia and South Ossetia cannot benefit from the socio-economic development of the country, as both regions continue to suffer from the plague of Russian occupation, despite the Georgian authorities' laudable readiness for dialogue, recently illustrated by the ambitious "A Step for a Better Future" initiative for peace aimed at the citizens living on both sides of the administrative boundary lines.

For these reasons, the adoption, today in plenary, of a univocal resolution on Georgian occupied territories 10 years after the Russian invasion is of the outmost importance.

We, Members of the European Parliament, are firmly committed to Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders, which implies a firm policy of non-recognition of the so-called "Republics" of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. We are determined to contribute to a peaceful resolution of the conflict, by negotiation and diplomacy, including through the Geneva International Discussions, the activities of the EU Monitoring Mission and the efforts of EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the Crisis in Georgia. Last but not least, the Russian Federation must be reminded of its international obligations. As the country exercising de facto control over Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the Russian Federation must grant the EUMM access to the occupied regions, revert the rampant borderisation process and put an end to the systematic violations of human rights observed in these regions - in particular those committed on grounds of ethnicity, ensure the safe and dignified return of the internally displaced persons to their native lands, and see that the perpetrators of the illegal killing of Georgian internally displaced persons are promptly brought to justice.

By adopting this resolution, the Members of the European Parliament also made clear that any further aggression, may it be in Georgia or elsewhere, would not remain unanswered."

Statement of 2 May 2018 on the political crisis in Armenia

STATEMENT

BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE DELEGATION, MEP Sajjad Karim

on the political crisis in Armenia

Brussels, 2 May 2018 - "Yesterday, 1 May, after a fortnight of unrest, the special session of the National Assembly of Armenia did not result in the election of a new Prime Minister.

In this difficult context, we wish to emphasise once again the extent to which the current events in Armenia are the subject of close attention in the European Parliament. In particular, the EP Delegation to the EU-Armenia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee held an extraordinary meeting tonight, to proceed to an exchange of views on the matter with representatives of the European External Action Service and of the European Commission's DG NEAR.

Members of the Delegation have already reaffirmed that freedom of assembly is a universal and fundamental right of all, but this right must be exercised in a peaceful manner and in accordance with the law.

As far as the political transition is concerned, we call on all sides to show restraint and responsibility, to engage in a frank dialogue and to respect the Constitutional order. In particular, the Constitution foresees that the National Assembly will hold another session to elect the new Prime Minister in seven days, and we expect all political forces to comply with these legal provisions.

It is also our duty to recall that, in the coming weeks, the European Parliament is due to vote on whether or not it should give consent to the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with Armenia, as well as an in-depth accompanying resolution on the state of EU-Armenian relations. In keeping with Armenia's international commitments but also in view of ensuring a positive vote in the European Parliament on the new CEPA agreement, we strongly support all measures that can be taken to ensure a peaceful political transition."

Joint statement of 24 April 2018 on the situation in Armenia

JOINT STATEMENT

BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE DELEGATION, MEP Sajjad Karim

& THE CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMITTEE, MEP David McAllister

on the situation in Armenia

Brussels, 24 April 2018 - "After ten days of street protests, Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan stepped down on Monday, April 23. The members of the EP Foreign Affairs Committee and of the Delegation to the EU-Armenia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee take note of this development.

In the coming weeks, the European Parliament is due to vote on whether or not it should give consent to the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with Armenia, as well as an in-depth accompanying resolution on the state of EU-Armenian relations.

In this context, we would like to emphasise the extent to which the current events in Armenia are the subject of close attention in the European Parliament, especially the numerous arrests of peaceful demonstrators including parliamentarians. The EU has already reaffirmed that the right to exercise freedom of assembly in a peaceful manner and in accordance with the law is a universal and fundamental right of all.

In keeping with Armenia's international commitments but also in view of ensuring a positive vote in the European Parliament on the new CEPA agreement, we strongly support all measures that can be taken to ensure a peaceful transition of power including that the Armenian authorities fully respect this right of assembly and that all those who have been detained while exercising their fundamental right of assembly in accordance with the law are be released with no delay. In this respect, we welcome the release of opposition leader Mr Nikol Pashinyan.

Dialogue rather than excessive force is the only way to find a sustainable solution to the current situation in Armenia. As its partner, the EU will continue supporting Armenia in its reform efforts, with particular regard to the rule of law and the independence of judiciary, in line with the CEPA, which was unanimously ratified by Armenia's National Assembly on 11 April.

While today marks the anniversary of the 1915 Genocide, in which they lost 1.5 million of their kin, we urge all Armenians to show unity and to resolve their political differences in a peaceful manner, within the framework of their Constitution."

Joint statement of 15 January 2018 on the sentencing of journalist Afgan Mukhtarli

MEP Sajjad Karim, Chairman of the Delegation to the EU-Armenia and EU-Azerbaijan Parliamentary Cooperation Committees and to the EU-Georgia Parliamentary Association Committee and the AFET rapporteur on Azerbaijan, MEP Norica Nicolai

"The six-year prison sentence handed down to Azerbaijani journalist Mr Afgan Mukhtarli by the Balakan District Court poses, with a renewed acuity, questions with regards to the exercise of fundamental rights, including the freedom of expression and media, and the due process of law in Azerbaijan, as well as Azerbaijan's determination to uphold its international commitments in this domain.

It is all the more concerning that the EU and Azerbaijan have launched negotiations on a comprehensive new agreement aimed at modernising and revitalising their relations.

We call on the Azerbaijani authorities to immediately and unconditionally release from jail Mr Afgan Mukhtarli, but also all imprisoned political prisoners, journalists, human rights defenders and other civil society activists, and to fully restore their political and civil rights, in line with European Parliament's Resolution of 15 June 2017[1]."


[1] http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+TA+P8-TA-2017-0267+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN

Joint Statement of 14 March 2018 on micro-financial assistance to Georgia

JOINT STATEMENT

BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE DELEGATION, MEP Sajjad KARIM

& THE AFET RAPPORTEUR ON GEORGIA, MEP Andrejs MAMIKINS

on the European Commission proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council providing further macro-financial assistance to Georgia

Brussels, 14 March 2018 - "During today's plenary session, the Members of the European Parliament endorsed a European Commission's proposal to provide further macro-financial assistance to help Georgia cover part of its external financing needs for the period of 2017-2020[1].

It is the third time, since the war of 2008, that, following a request from the Georgian authorities, the Commission proposes a programme of macro-financial assistance. Worth EUR 45 million for the period 2017-2020, in two instalments, comprising of both medium-term loans (EUR 35 million) and grants (EUR 10 millions), the new programme will usefully complement the financial assistance already provided by the EU under the European Neighbourhood Instrument and by the International Monetary Fund under the Extended Fund Facility.

Georgia continues to face a fragile economic environment: its fiscal deficit remains worrisome, its public debt-to-GDP ratio is on the rise due to the sharp depreciation of the lari, and its balance of payments reposition remains fragile because of the high levels of current account deficit and external debt. That being said, the wise supervision and regulation practices of the Georgian Central Bank have warranted that the financial system remains sound and well capitalised overall.

In light of the above, the members of the Delegation for the Relations with South Caucasus welcome this development, which comes at the right moment and demonstrates once again that the EU stands with Tbilisi when it comes to tackling macro-economic imbalances.

They also insist that EU assistance is pre-conditioned by Georgia's achievements in the fields of democracy, the rule of law and human rights, along with efficient and transparent public financing and structural reforms, and call on the Commission and the EEAS to regularly monitor the fulfilment of this pre-conditionality throughout the lifecycle of the micro-financial assistance programme, as reflected in today's vote."


[1] European Commission proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council providing further macro-financial assistance to Georgia: COM(2017)0559 - C8-0335/2017 - 2017/0242(COD)

Statement of 28 February 2018 on the death of a Georgian citizen in South Ossetia

Mr SAJJAD KARIM, Chairman of the Delegation to the EU-Armenia and EU-Azerbaijan Parliamentary Cooperation Committees and to the EU-Georgia Parliamentary Association Committee

Brussels, 28 February 2018 - "The members of the Delegation for the Relations with South Caucasus have taken note, with deep concern, of the reports on the death in custody, in Tskhinvali, on 22 February 2018, of Mr Archil Tatunashivili.

We express our condolences to the deceased's family, and call on the de facto authorities of South Ossetia to immediately allow two other Georgian citizens, Messrs Levan Kutashvili and Ioseb Pavliashvili, who have been apprehended at the same time as Mr Tatunashivili and subsequently released from custody, to travel back to the Tbilisi-administered territory.

Just like the murder of another Georgian citizen, Mr Giga Otkhozoria, along the administrative boundary line of the occupied territory of Abkhazia in 2016, the tragic death of Mr Tatunashivili illustrates once again the deterioration of the human rights situation in the occupied regions of Georgia.

We call on the de facto authorities of South Ossetia to hand over the body of Mr Tatunashivili to his family without further ado, to provide a full accounting of the circumstances surrounding his death and to punish those responsible.

We note with satisfaction that the European Union Monitoring Mission in Georgia stands ready to support the investigation and facilitate discussions through its Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism and the Mission Hotline. That being said, it is utmost regrettable that the EUMM has never been allowed to access the occupied regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Once again, we urge the Russian authorities to fulfil all their obligations under the 2008 ceasefire agreement".

Statement of 25 February 2017 on the South Caucasus

Mr SAJJAD KARIM, Chairman of the Delegation to the EU-Armenia and EU-Azerbaijan Parliamentary Cooperation Committees and to the EU-Georgia Parliamentary Association Committee:

Azerbaijani Prosecutor General has issued three international arrest warrants, this week, against MEPs Eleni Theocharous, Frank Engel and Jaromir Stetina for having visited Nagorno-Karabach and having, through their behavior, supported the self-proclaimed local statehood.

On 20 February, the MEPs named above carried out "observations" of a process organised locally in Nagorno- Karabach.

No official European Parliament observation mission has been organized in Nagorno-Karabach. Any impression given contrary to this is therefore without merit and completely unfounded.

Whilst MEPs are free to visit areas of their choosing, they should responsibly pay attention to the obvious fragility of the cease-fire and the need to support the political mediation processes in Nagorno-Karabach and be clear of their unofficial individual status for all such visits. [...]

The issuing of an international arrest order is unwelcome, unhelpful and undesirable it also exaggerates the importance to be attached to this individual MEPs visit.
[...]

Statement of 4/12/17 on the importance of the role of the Public defender of Georgia

Mr SAJJAD KARIM, Chairman of the Delegation to the EU-Armenia and EU-Azerbaijan Parliamentary Cooperation Committees and to the EU-Georgia Parliamentary Association Committee

Brussels, 4 December 2017 - "As his five-year mandate is coming to an end on 7 December 2017, the European Parliament's Delegation pays tribute to the work done by Mr Ucha Nanuashvili during his tenure as the Public Defender of Georgia.

A constitutional institution since 1997, the Public Defender supervises State agencies, local self-government agencies, public institutions and public officials, ensuring the protection of human rights and freedoms. He can consider applications concerning possible violations of human rights and freedoms enshrined in the laws of Georgia, as well as in the international treaties and agreements which have been ratified by Georgia. After reviewing the potential cases, he can submit proposals, remarks and recommendations to the Parliament or other relevant bodies.

The importance of the Public Defender as a constitutional institution has been acknowledged by the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Mr Stavros Lambrinidis, in his 2016 Report on human rights.

In the framework of the European integration reform processes in Georgia, the European Union attaches particular importance to the promotion of human rights and the role of the Public Defender. That is why EU budget support and grants, as well as EIDHR projects, are supporting this Institution.

During his mandate, Mr Nanuashvili has spared no effort to guide his country's institutions towards good governance. To cite but one among many examples, he has issued an acute report on corruption in the judiciary, whose importance has been saluted by the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr Nils Muižnieks, in April 2017. Through his good offices, he has been instrumental in smoothing and facilitating the dialogue between the government and the minorities. More recently, he has played a major role in identifying shortcomings in the Afgan Mukhtarli case, since the Azerbaijani journalist in exile went missing from Tbilisi on 29 May 2017.

Considering that good governance is at the core of the Association Agreement between the European Union and Georgia, Mr Nanuashvili has contributed to maintain Georgia on its European path. We are all thankful to the work he has accomplished and wish him every success in his future endeavours.

As the Parliament of Georgia is about to elect the new Public Defender, we wish to remind our Georgian colleagues of the paramount importance of this office. We trust that their choice will go to an independent and competent candidate."

Joint statement of 6 July 2017, on tragic death of civilians in the Fizuli region

The Chairmen of the Delegation to the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly Delegation to the EU-Armenia, EU-Azerbaijan Parliamentary Cooperation committees and EU-Georgia Parliamentary Association Committee issued a joint statement regarding the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, and calling for immediate stop to military hostilities.

"The European Parliament is greatly concerned about the renewed violence earlier this week between Armenia and Azerbaijan which has yet again led to the death of civilians, in the Fizuli region. We express our deep condolences to the families of the victims.

We call for an immediate stop to military hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan. As previously stated, we firmly believe that the Nagorno Karabakh conflict does not have a military solution. Instead, the conflict needs an early political settlement in accordance with international law. This is the only way to stop unnecessarily claiming the lives of civilians and soldiers on both sides.

We fully support the mediation efforts and proposals of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs. In order for this mediation to have a chance of success, both Armenia and Azerbaijan need to find the political courage to negotiate in good faith
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Statement of 5 July 2017 on the Constitutional reform in Georgia

Statement by Mr Sajjad KARIM, Chairman of the EP Delegation for relations with South Caucasus on the Constitutional reform in Georgia: We must help stability and long-lasting political solutions in the South Caucasus.

Statement of 6 October 2016 on resumption of relations with the Milli Majlis

Sajjad Karim, Chair of the Delegation to the EU-Azerbaijan Parliamentary Cooperation Committee:

I welcome the Decision on cooperation between the European Parliament and the Milli Majlis, adopted by the Milli Majlis on 30 September. The decision repeals Articles 10 and 11 of the Milli Majlis decision of 14 September 2015, which had suspended the participation of Azerbaijan in the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly and the cooperation with the European Parliament in the existing format of the Parliamentary Cooperation Committee.

The decision follows an open and constructive exchange during the visit of the European Parliament delegation in the framework of the 13th EU-Azerbaijan Parliamentary Cooperation Committee meeting on 20 September 2016, which is reflected in the statement of the Co-chairs of the Parliamentary Cooperation Committee, adopted on 21 September 2016.
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Statement of 26 May 2016 on the release of Khadija Ismayilova

Sajjad Karim, Chair of the Delegation to the EU-Azerbaijan Parliamentary Cooperation Committee:

The conditional release in Azerbaijan of investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova, 2016 recipient of the UNECO Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, is a further positive development taking place in the wake of the April
amnesty which saw a number of Human Rights defenders being pardoned.

We welcome such encouraging steps which pave the way to further progress. On our side, we trust that the planned resumption of interparliamentary relations with the Milli Majlis will also allow us to constructively engage which each other and ensure that this momentum is both maintained and reflected in terms of
EU/Azerbaijan relations
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Statement of 3 February 2016 on US support of Georgia visa liberalisation

Sajjad Karim MEP, Chair of the EU Delegation for Relations with the South Caucasus, today welcomed the USA's backing of visa liberalisation in Georgia.

He met with the US Ambassador to the EU, Anthony Gardner, at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, who said his country was extremely supportive of the process and offered any assistance they can provide on the issue. During the meeting, the delegation Chair also recalled the January 2015 EP decision to create, within the Delegation for relations with South Caucasus, a Delegation to the EU/Georgia Parliamentary Association Committee - a necessary development after the entry into force of the EU/Georgia Association Agreement, aimed at providing joint parliamentary scrutiny.[...]

Statement of 18 August 2015 on the situation in Georgia

Mr SAJJAD KARIM, Chairman of the DSCA Delegation:

In name of the EP Delegation to the EU-Georgia Parliamentary Association Committee, I reiterate the EP and EU's principled position of full support for Georgia's territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. The international community does not recognise the recent so-called treaties on alliance and integration signed between Russia and the two occupied territories of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia. Such 'treaties' violate Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and further contradict the principles of international law as well as Russia's international commitments.

The installation of new demarcation signposts along the South Ossetia administrative boundary line in early July constitutes a clear provocation, accruing tensions in the area.
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Statement of 15 April 2015 on European Parliament's recognition of Armenian genocide

Sajjad Karim MEP, who chairs the European Parliament (EP) Delegation to the EP/Armenia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee, today welcomed the adoption by the EP Plenary of a Joint Resolution on the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian genocide.

MEPs paid tribute to the memory of the 1.5 million innocent Armenian victims who perished in 1915-1917. While these tragic events took place in the times of the Ottoman Empire, the European Parliament has reiterated its formal position, adopted as early as 1987, that genocide did in fact take place, as defined by the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948.

This resolution follows both the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly and the EP/Armenia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee adopting similar texts in mid-March. The joint EP/Armenia PCC statement, in particular, had strongly hoped that the legacy of the past could be overcome by the normalisation of Turkey - Armenia relations, without any preconditions.[...]