The 2015 ENP package "Implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy in 2014" consists of a joint Communication and a set of country specific and regional reports. The report on Azerbaijan underlines key developments and reform efforts in 2014 and makes recommendations for the year to come.
The EU-Azerbaijan relations developed further in 2014: bilateral agreements entered into force: the Visa Facilitation Agreement and the Readmission Agreement, and the Protocol on Azerbaijan's participation in EU programmes and agencies, which can help further deepening bilateral relations.
Azerbaijan made efforts in 2014 to further diversify the economy. The macroeconomic environment remained stable due to growth in the non-oil economy and enhanced social stability. The commitment for the implementation of the Southern Gas Corridor continued to be of utmost importance for the EU-Azerbaijan dialogue.
The Municipal Elections (December) were conducted on a good technical level although with short time for campaigning and some shortcomings that will need to be addressed.
There was 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. The situation of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) deteriorated considerably and a more restrictive legal framework was introduced. As a result, many CSOs suspended their activities. A number of prominent Human Right Defenders were detained, travel bans were issued and bank accounts of civil society organisations were frozen.
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.
On the basis of the Country Progress Report, several actions are recommended to Azerbaijan for the year to come, amongst others:
- respecting and implementing its commitments undertaken as a member of the Council of Europe and improve the situation of democracy and human rights in the country;
- creating a more conducive political and legal environment for civil society;
- continuing the reform of the judiciary; analysing shortcomings in judicial practice;
- stepping up efforts towards comprehensive peace settlement in accordance with the commitments undertaken within the Minsk Group; refraining from actions and statements that could heighten tension and undermine the peace process.
Please find the whole list of recommendations in the Country Progress Report here:
For further information:
I. Financial cooperation:
In 2014, EU funding through the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI) amounted to €21 million to support education and skills development, and provide direct support to civil society.
A total of up to €94 million will be available for Azerbaijan in the years 2014-2017 to support reforms in key areas, such as education and skills development, justice, regional and rural development. Complementary support for the modernisation of public institutions and for civil society can be provided outside the priority sectors. Total figures are indicative: final allocations will depend on the country's needs and commitment to reforms.
In addition to ENI, in 2014 Azerbaijan also benefitted from other EU support including the thematic programme for Civil Society and Local Authorities (€3 million).
Further information on financial cooperation can be found in Section IV of the Statistical Annex and on the Website of DG Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations:
II. Further sources of information:
- Joint Communication on the implementation of the ENP in 2014
- Progress report for Azerbaijan with the full list of recommendations
- ENP Action Plan
- The European Neighbourhood Policy in general:
b.) European Commission
- Website of Ms Federica Mogherini, HR/VP
- Website of Mr Johannes Hahn, Member of the European Commission for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations