IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Human rights side-lined by energy issues during visit of Azerbaijani president to Brussels?
Energy issues and the Southern Gas Corridor were on top of the agenda during the meeting of the Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev with the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy and the European Commission President José Manuel Barroso today.
The EU leaders stressed the significance of Azerbaijan as an important partner with whom a reliable partnership in the energy field has been achieved. President Barroso expressed his satisfaction with the progress achieved on the Southern Gas Corridor, which "is about to be realized, to the benefit of all involved". Furthermore, he stressed the strategic importance for the diversification of Europe's gas supplies of both pipeline projects on the table - the Nabucco West and the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline.
President Van Rompuy expressed his strong desire to set up ambitious new contractual relationships with Azerbaijan based on an Association Agreement that would help to the relationship achieve its full potential.
President Barroso added in his statement that he shared the Commission's views on key domestic issues for Azerbaijan, especially mentioning the upcoming Presidential elections, which should "take place according to the highest standards, with the support of international observers including from OSCE-ODIHR". Furthermore, he recalled that "stability and prosperity can only endure in the long term with the respect of rule of law, democratic institutions and of course a dynamic civil society".
Aside from this, according to Andrew Rettman from EU Observer, President Barroso chose not challenge Aliyev’s statements on Azerbaijan having no political prisoners thus giving Azerbaijan chief Ilham Aliyev “an easy ride on human rights”.
The full statement of President Barroso is available here.
The full statement of President Van Rompuy is available here.
The article of Andrew Rettman is available here.