The conditions for signing a new agreement between Azerbaijan and the EU on partnership should be the release of political prisoners, full enjoyment of freedoms and human rights, restoration of opportunities for the free activity of civil society institutions, and the implementation of other democratic reforms. This is stated in the resolution of public hearings, distributed on Wednesday, “On the expected agreement between Azerbaijan and EU”, held on April 18 with the participation of the country’s leading opposition forces.
“We are supporters of Azerbaijan’s effective and mutually beneficial integration into the Euro-Atlantic space, and therefore we consider it important to fulfill the conditions for signing the agreement on strategic cooperation put forward in the European Parliament Recommendations of July 4, 2018,” the statement says.
The authors of the document note that recently in Azerbaijan, under the name of reform, the authorities have taken unsystematic and halfhearted steps, without public participation or effective mechanisms for implementing the declared measures.
The current situation and expectations of the government do not meet the conditions set by the European Parliament.
The principles of the agreement should be open to the public and the project must be published.
The authors of the resolution, noting that European integration is the only alternative choice of Azerbaijan”s foreign policy, indicate the need for the implementation of the next steps and reforms before signing the agreement.
The agreement should unequivocally reflect the liberation of the lands of Azerbaijan captured by the “Russian-Armenian military units”, ensuring the territorial integrity of the country, the inviolability of its borders and sovereignty, including over Nagorno-Karabakh and other occupied neighboring areas.
There are also demands to free all political prisoners before the agreement with the EU and to ensure fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of peaceful assembly.
The importance of simplifying the registration of NGOs and grants, lifting restrictions on the activities of foreign donors and ensuring media freedom is noted.
Reforms must be implemented to ensure the holding of free and fair elections, taking into account the recommendations of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe and the OSCE / ODIHR.
It is noted that it is necessary to form election commissions of all levels on the basis of equal representation of parties, returning from the system of majority election to parliament to the mixed majority-proportional system, and implementing decisions of the ECHR on election complaints.
It is proposed to ensure the independence of the judiciary, to restore the institution of representation of citizens in courts by public defenders, and to create conditions for the formation of an alternative Bar of Attorneys.
In order to effectively combat corruption, money laundering and tax evasion, it is proposed to introduce mandatory declaration by officials of the executive branch, judges, prosecutors, and MPs of information about their income and property.
In order to develop free entrepreneurship, the importance of adopting a Code of Competition, ensuring Azerbaijan”s accession to the WTO within 1 year, is noted.
The resolution was prepared and disseminated by the Movement for Democracy and Prosperity, taking into account the proposals of the Party of Free Democrats, the Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan, the Popular Party, the Justice Party, the National Council of Democratic Forces and the Citizens and Development Party.