Is the position of the Council of Europe fair?
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has attracted attention by sanctioning Azerbaijan, sparking discussions about limiting its powers in the assembly. Some experts argue that these actions are a response to Azerbaijan's growing proximity to Russia, while others attribute it to lingering tensions over the Karabakh issue. Political scientist Ahmed Alili provided insights on the unfolding situation during the "Difficult Question" program.
Alili acknowledged that discussions about Karabakh are not novel within PACE, emphasizing that the matter has been a recurrent theme in past hearings. He shed light on the existence of interest groups in Europe that feel entitled to be consulted on matters within their purview. When these groups perceive neglect, dissatisfaction is expressed through actions such as those witnessed in the current debate about Azerbaijan.
Regarding Azerbaijan's decision to deny PACE speakers access to the Lachyn corridor, Alili contended that if this desire had been expressed before 2023, the response might have been different. He argued that Azerbaijan sought acknowledgment for the Lachyn humanitarian corridor, and after the events of September 2023, the decision to deny access was likely due to an attempt to access it through Armenia.
Alili highlighted the refusal to invite PACE to assess early presidential elections on February 7 as a more significant source of PACE's discontent. He suggested that interest groups in Europe are pushing to curtail Azerbaijan's autonomy in choosing its foreign partners. These groups, akin to their efforts in Ukraine, aim to influence Azerbaijan's foreign alliances and create obstacles, hoping to coerce a relinquishment of sovereign decision-making in foreign policy.
The political scientist predicted that Azerbaijan, while currently measured in its response due to the impending elections, will assert a more open position on these matters post-election. Alili emphasized Azerbaijan's determination not to allow external interference in its sovereign right to shape independent foreign policy decisions.
As the country braces for the elections, the dynamics of its relationship with Europe are poised for potential shifts, reflecting the intricate balance between national sovereignty and international expectations.