The implementation of the Eastern Partnership, which covers the three South-Caucasian republics, and the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty offer the EU a prime opportunity to conceive a comprehensive strategy for the region, says the report, drafted by Evgeni Kirilov (Bulgaria, S&D). Europe will have to deal with a complex geopolitical situation, however, in a region marked by conflict in the Nagorno Karabakh area and in Georgia, as well as tensions between Armenia and Turkey.
Although Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia are partners of the EU's Neighbourhood Policy since 2004, a comprehensive regional strategy is still lacking for the region. MEPs had already underlined the need for such a strategy, in 2006, when they recommended an EU stability pact for the southern Caucasus, involving the EU (with the participation of Turkey as an accession candidate), Russia, the United States and the United Nations (the Quartet).
MEPs wish the EU strategy for the South Caucasus to concentrate on three domains: conflict resolution, promotion of democracy, human rights and the rule of law; and economic cooperation and social development.
Free and fair elections needed in Georgia
Ahead of local elections in Georgia to be held on May 30th, MEPs insist that measures be taken to ensure international electoral norms are respected.
The EP's Foreign Affairs Committee plans to send an ad-hoc delegation of seven MEPs to observe the May elections in Georgia.
Concern for freedom of the press
MEPs also expressed concern over the lack of media pluralism in the South Caucasus. They deplore the aggressions against Armenian journalists and the detention of opposition journalist Nikol Pashinian, despite his amnesty. MEPs are also worried about the media situation in Azerbaijan, where two young militant bloggers, Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade, have recently been imprisoned.
Energy security, conflict resolution and economic cooperation
The current situation of conflict in the region is neither acceptable nor viable, states the resolution, which expresses concern over the recent increases in military spending. "Frozen conflicts" are an obstacle to economic and social development, warn MEPs.
MEPs call on Catherine Ashton, the EU's High-Representative for Foreign Affairs, to play an active part in promoting conflict resolution in the region.
Finally, recognising the importance of the region for the EU's energy security and supply, MEPs express their support for the strengthening of EU-South Caucasus cooperation in energy projects, in particular for the successful realization of the Nabucco pipeline.