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Much Ado about Minsk, Too Little about Baku

May 7, 2012 - Example Author - New Eastern Europe newsletter

Now online: Much Ado about Minsk, Too Little about Baku

By: Jana Kobzova, Analyst with the European Council on Foreign Relations

I recently spent a week in Azerbaijan, talking to local activists, experts and Baku-based diplomats about their views on the worsening human rights situation and what the EU could do about it. Many of these discussions were reminiscent of the tens of debates about yet another autocratic Eastern European country – Belarus. Sadly, most conclusions were similar too. Unless the EU expands its presence in Azerbaijan (and Belarus), it is unlikely to achieve most of its goals.

Of course, the situation in both states is different in a number of ways – Azerbaijan is an oil and gas rich Caspian republic far away from the EU’s borders. Belarus, on the other hand, borders three EU members. The regime in Minsk looks up to Moscow as its key partner and financier; engagement with the EU primarily serves to balance occasional pressure from Russia and gain additional funds. For its part, Baku’s foreign policy pursues a number of vectors: Turkey is without a doubt Azerbaijan’s closest ally but the country also strives to have good relations with Russia, the EU, Iran and the US too. In short, the EU is only one of Azerbaijan's important allies.

Read the full article:  https://www.neweasterneurope.eu/node/308


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