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Stability and Security in the South Caucasus

Stability and Security in the South Caucasus

Recommendation 751 on stability and security in the South Caucasus. Report (Document A/1879) submitted on behalf of the Political Committee by Mr Masseret (France, Socialist Group) and Mr Zacchera (Italy, Federated Group), Rapporteurs. Source: WEU, Paris, November 30, 2004.

      The Assembly,

  1. Welcoming the present government of Georgia's intention to re-establish the rule of law, reduce corruption and tackle all the other problems which, since independence in 1991, have stood in the way of the establishment of viable state institutions and any realistic prospect of the country's integration into European structures;

  2. Aware of the importance for Georgia's long-term stability and security of the central government regaining control over Abkhazia and South Ossetia, but considering that the time may not yet be ripe for major change in those regions and that the restructuring of state institutions and the re-imposition of the rule of law in government-controlled territory must currently take priority;

  3. Considering that, meantime, the European Union, the Russian Federation and the United States, together with the OSCE and the United Nations Security Council, should make sustained efforts to prepare the ground for a future comprehensive and peaceful resolution of the conflicts in Abkhazia and Ossetia;

  4. Noting that Russia has not yet withdrawn its troops from its remaining military bases in Georgia, as it agreed to do in Istanbul in November 1999, and that it maintains a close relationship with both the Abkhazian and South Ossetian leaderships;

  5. Considering therefore that Russia, given its insistence on central government authority at home, has a specific responsibility to act in such a way as to help consolidate stability and security in Georgia, thus avoiding the inconsistency of a policy that supports breakaway regions in neighbouring countries;

  6. Noting that the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus might also play a role in promoting good-neighbourly relations between Georgia and Russia;

  7. Considering that the government of Armenia has not yet introduced a number of necessary major reforms to establish good governance, transparency and accountability, and the rule of law;

  8. Regretting that more than a year after the most recent parliamentary elections, the opposition is still refusing to participate in parliamentary proceedings, also that it has very little opportunity to make its views known to the wider public through the electronic media;

  9. Aware that the unsolved problem of Nagorno-Karabakh, and the fact that Armenia occupies some 20% of the territory of Azerbaijan, is dominating Armenia's internal policy and external relations, with largely negative consequences for much-needed social, economic and political development within the country;

  10. Regretting that for a number of reasons, which include ethnic affinities and the events of history, bilateral relations between Armenia and Turkey appear to be deadlocked, with neither party capable of taking a first courageous step, while an open border between the two countries - conducive to economic development and rebuilding mutual trust - would be in the interest of the whole region;

  11. Considering that if Azerbaijan is to achieve stability and balanced economic development in the longer term, its political and socio-economic systems need to be made more transparent and accountable, the more especially in view of the current leadership's preference for the continuation of secular state structures within a Muslim territory;

  12. Recognising that Azerbaijan's oil fields are a very important factor in the country's economic development but regretting that only a relatively small section of the population is able to benefit from this new wealth and that the government is not doing enough towards modernising and developing further other sectors of the economy to make sure the country is less vulnerable to crises in the energy sector;

  13. Regretting that ten years after the ceasefire agreement the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh remains unresolved, notwithstanding the many multilateral and bilateral efforts to negotiate a peaceful solution; aware too that this is the main obstacle standing in the way of vital regional cooperation;

  14. Considering that the allies of all sides in this unresolved conflict should make every effort to prevent the present stalemate leading to attempts to impose a solution by force and the consequent risk of an arms race that this implies;

  15. Considering that the leadership of both Armenia and Azerbaijan will have to make determined efforts to prepare public opinion to accept a peaceful settlement with give and take on both sides, leading eventually to enhanced stability and economic development throughout the region;

  16. Aware that for the EU, the countries in the South Caucasus have a strategic importance in their own right, as a point of contact between different cultures, as transit countries for energy supplies and as the gateway to Central Asia;

  17. Welcoming, therefore, the European Council's decision to include them in the European Neighbourhood Policy, and the European Commission's specific action plans which should offer incentives for reform and contribute to regional cooperation;

  18. Considering it is premature to think of a stability pact for the Caucasus region while the conflicts in Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh remain unresolved;

  19. Considering that in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia:

    • stability would be greatly enhanced by increasing the transparency, effectiveness and accountability of public institutions;

    • the fight against corruption should be a priority, as visible success here would do more than anything else to stabilise society and attract foreign investors;

    • much remains to be done in order to guarantee the freedom and independence both of the press and the electronic media;

    • the establishment of a judicial system in accordance with European standards is essential for the development of civil society and a healthy economy;

  20. Conscious of the fact that the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe is one of the cornerstones of European security and regretting that in both Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh there are large amounts of treaty-limited equipment still unaccounted for;

  21. Welcoming the South Caucasus countries' involvement in NATO's Partnership for Peace programme, but regretting that the partners do not always live up to their partnership commitments;

  22. Hoping that Russia will come round to the view that it has an interest in stability in the South Caucasus and will be prepared to make a positive contribution to the solution of the conflicts that still exist in the different breakaway regions,

          RECOMMENDS that the Council urge the European Union to:

  1. Keep a strong European multi-dimensional effort, using all the available instruments, at the forefront of its priorities for the region so as to increase the prosperity, stability and security of the South Caucasus as a whole;

  2. Make every effort to prevent Armenia and Azerbaijan starting an arms race in an attempt to solve the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh by force or through the threat of the use of force;

  3. Develop an action plan that helps the peoples of both countries understand that relations between neighbours should be based on concepts of cooperation and the peaceful resolution of conflict;

  4. Convince the governments of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia that the immediate priorities for government action are the further development of efficient and transparent state institutions and of democratic governance, the establishment of the rule of law and the fight against corruption;

  5. Continue to insist on the closure by the end of the present decade of the Medzamor nuclear electricity plant in Armenia, while making every effort to assist with the provision of an alternative energy plant for that country;

  6. Encourage Turkey to work constructively for stability in the South Caucasus, inter alia through the progressive reopening of its borders with Armenia, whilst reminding Armenia that it must recognise the existing border with Turkey as delineated by the international Kars Agreement of 1921.

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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).