EU parliament backs sanctions against Azerbaijan
The European Parliament on Thursday adopted a resolution calling for sanctions on Azerbaijan’s political and military leadership, citing the “ethnic cleansing” of Armenians in Nagorno Karabakh.
Adopted with 491 votes in favor and only nine against, the resolution called for the EU and its member states to “adopt targeted sanctions against the individuals in the Azerbaijani Government” responsible for human rights violations in Nagorno-Karabakh and demanded investigations into “the abuses committed by Azerbaijani forces that could constitute war crimes.”
The resolution also expressed solidarity with the ethnic Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh “who have been forced to flee their homes and ancestral lands” and “considers that the current situation amounts to ethnic cleansing.”
Azerbaijan’s lightning military operation last month in the disputed region was described as “a pre-planned, unjustified military attack… leading to significant loss of life,” which represented “a gross violation of human rights and international law, and a clear infringement of the trilateral ceasefire statement of 9 November 2020.”
The MEPs demanded that the EU suspend all imports of oil and gas from Azerbaijan “in the event of military aggression against Armenian territorial integrity” or “attacks against Armenia’s constitutional order and democratic institutions.”
The resolution also called for the EU to reassess its energy partnership with Baku. Last year, the bloc signed an agreement to double natural gas imports from Azerbaijan by 2027, to make up for the shortages caused by the Western embargo against Russia.
During the debate on the resolution earlier this week, Fabio Massimo Castaldo of Italy’s Five Star Movement denounced the EU’s “silence, which sacrificed the Armenian population in the name of realpolitik,” while the head of France’s National Rally, Jordan Bardella, argued that the EU “prefers gas to Armenian blood.”
More than 100,000 ethnic Armenians have fled Nagorno-Karabakh since the local militia surrendered to Azerbaijani troops on September 20, after a day of fighting. Baku has pointed to Yerevan explicitly recognizing the former breakaway region as sovereign Azerbaijani territory on multiple occasions, including last October’s talks in Prague hosted by the EU.
Baku described its offensive as a “counterterrorism” action against what it said were illegal armed groups. The self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic was not recognized by any country, including Armenia.
The EU had scheduled peace talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan for Thursday in the Spanish city of Granada. The government in Baku canceled its participation on Wednesday, however, saying that the absence of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would result in an “anti-Azerbaijani atmosphere.”