A new parliamentary effort to create a stability pact in the South Caucasus
| Doc. 13135
| 18 February 2013
- Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy
- Rapporteur :
- Mr Latchezar TOSHEV,
to committee: Doc.
12680, Reference 3802 of 3 October 2011. Information report
approved by the committee on 24 January 2013.
The Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy deeply regrets
that relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan have deteriorated
to a point where concrete proposals for the establishment of instruments
for co-operation between the three South Caucasian States cannot
It decides, however, to publish its efforts as an information
1. Article 3 of the Statute of the Council of Europe
states that “[e]very member of the Council of Europe must accept
the principles of the rule of law and of the enjoyment by all persons
within its jurisdiction of human rights and fundamental freedoms,
and collaborate sincerely and effectively in the realisation of
the aim of the Council as specified in Chapter I”.
In its Opinions
and 222 (2000)
, respectively on Armenia’s and Azerbaijan’s applications
for membership of the Council of Europe, adopted on 28 June 2000,
the Parliamentary Assembly expressed the view that both countries
were “able and willing to fulfil the provisions of Article 3 of
the Statute”. The Assembly also pointed out that “the accession
of both Armenia and Azerbaijan could help to establish the climate
of trust necessary for a solution to the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh”.
3. In both these opinions, the Assembly noted that “the frequency
of meetings between the presidents of the two countries has been
stepped up. The speakers of the parliaments of Armenia, Azerbaijan
and Georgia have decided to institute regional parliamentary co-operation,
consisting in particular of meetings of the speakers of the parliaments
and parliamentary seminars to be held in the capitals of the three
countries and in Strasbourg. The first meeting in the region, which
was held in Tbilisi in September 1999, made it possible to establish
an atmosphere of trust and détente between the parliamentary delegations
of Armenia and Azerbaijan”. Finally the Assembly called on the Armenian
and Azerbaijani authorities “to pursue their dialogue with a view
to achieving a peaceful settlement of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh
and giving new impetus to regional co-operation”.
4. The rapporteur is of the opinion that the people living in
the South Caucasus deserve to have a better future and increased
opportunities for economic development, and also not to be hostages
of an ongoing conflict which deprives them of the opportunity for
a better life.
5. This requires a “bottom-up” approach, starting with non-controversial
areas for co-operation not only between decision-makers, but also
between ordinary citizens. The aim is to improve the climate of
relations in the South Caucasus, eliminate hate, and encourage dialogue
with a view to finding a lasting solution to the conflict. In this
respect, the positive example of the Stability Pact for South-East
Europe could be taken into consideration.
The idea of institutionalising co-operation in the South Caucasus
was launched for the first time at the sixth Summit of OSCE Heads
of State, held in Istanbul in November 1999, by both President Kocharian
of Armenia and President Aliyev of Azerbaijan; it was then reiterated
by outgoing Turkish President Demirel in January 2000, and again
by Mr Kocharian in March 2000. However, as Mr Adrian Severin wrote
in his 2006 report on the establishment of a Stability Pact for
the South Caucasus (Doc.
), objections raised
and Iran to various aspects of these proposals left them without
7. The first sitting of the Plenary Assembly of the South Caucasus
Parliamentary Initiative (SCPI) was held on 20 December 2003 in
Craigellachie, Scotland, with the participation of parliamentary
delegations from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, and was led by
a rotating presidency. During this event, a formal bilateral meeting
between the Armenian and Azerbaijani parliamentary delegations was
also organised. The second sitting of the Plenary Assembly of the
SCPI was held in Sofia, Bulgaria, from 1 to 3 July 2004, at which
a By-Law of this parliamentary forum was adopted. A representative
of the Dutch Presidency of the European Union and the Chairperson-in-office
of the OSCE, as well as the Speaker of the Bulgarian Parliament
and several members of the Bulgarian delegation to the Parliamentary
Assembly, participated in and contributed to the work of this sitting.
This forum was active until 2007; its activities were subsequently
suspended in 2008 due to a lack of political will to continue.
8. It is already 20 years since the OSCE Council (then the “CSCE
Council”) requested the Chairman-in-Office to convene, as soon as
possible, a conference on Nagorno-Karabakh, to take place in Minsk,
in order to provide an ongoing forum for negotiations towards a
peaceful settlement of the crisis. The Minsk Group, co-chaired by
France, Russia and the United States, is still in charge of the
international community’s effort to find a political solution to
this conflict, but to date it has not been possible to hold the
2 The first
Parliamentary Assembly initiative
Based on my experience as Assembly rapporteur on
the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe, and being native to
this region, I tabled, on 5 May 2004, a motion for a recommendation
on the establishment of a stability pact on the Caucasian Region
). The Political Affairs Committee appointed Mr Adrian Severin,
member of the Romanian delegation to the Assembly and Chairperson
of the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE, as rapporteur.
10. In its report on the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP),
adopted in 2005, the European Parliament expressed its support for
this idea. This encouraged the Assembly to move forward with it,
hoping that, with the support of the two assemblies, it would have
a chance of success.
11. The European Parliament organised a hearing in Brussels on
22 February 2006, on “Promoting Stability and Democratization in
Our Neighbourhood: What Role for the EU in the South Caucasus?”.
The Political Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly organised
another hearing in Brussels on 12 May 2006 with the participation
of representatives of the three countries concerned, the European
Union, and other international players.
12. It was obvious at the time that the establishment of a stability
pact for the South Caucasus would require the full and active support
of all those concerned.
13. The Assembly noted in 2006, however, that the idea of a Stability
Pact for the South Caucasus did not have sufficient support from
all parties concerned, in particular the three Caucasus Republics,
but also the European Union, Russia, Turkey and the United States.
The hearings in Brussels had shown that all those concerned, involved
or having a vested interest in the project seemed to be, for the
time being, indifferent or even against the idea of the establishment
of a stability pact for the South Caucasus.
On behalf of the Political Affairs Committee, Mr Severin presented
his report on 18 October 2006 and, in November 2006, the Assembly
adopted Resolution 1525
on the establishment of a Stability Pact for the South
Caucasus. Among other considerations, the Assembly pointed out that
the pact should include the withdrawal of foreign military forces
from the internationally recognised territory of another country,
it being clear that co-operation was unrealistic as long as one
country occupied the territory of another.
Whilst it resolved to pursue its efforts aimed at facilitating
regional co-operation at the parliamentary level, the Assembly recommended
that the Committee of Ministers:
the idea of the establishment of a stability pact for the South
- consider the possibility of organising an international
conference on security and co-operation in the South Caucasus, with
its main goal being to assess the specific needs and to establish
the practical conditions for launching such a stability pact in
agreement with all those concerned;
- invite the authorities of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia
to launch a serious political debate on this subject in their respective
- invite all other member States to examine the idea and
consult other international players, particularly the European Union,
on the possible establishment of a stability pact.
16. In its reply of 16 July 2007 (CM/AS(2007)Rec1771 final), the
Committee of Ministers indicated that it shared the Assembly's concerns
about the continued lack of a political solution to the various
“frozen” conflicts in the South Caucasus and concurred with the
idea of establishing reinforced regional co-operation that would help
create a positive climate across the region, foster its economic
development, reduce tensions and facilitate mutual understanding.
17. The Committee of Ministers considered, however, as did the
Assembly, that the idea of a stability pact in the region had not
yet gained sufficient, active, unreserved support from all the parties
concerned, and that they were not yet ready to involve themselves
in such a project. The time did not seem ripe to hold an international
conference on the subject.
3 The second initiative
18. In 2011, the situation in the Caucasus region had
not improved, notwithstanding the efforts aimed at strengthening
democratic processes and promoting peaceful coexistence in Council
of Europe member States from the region, and despite continuing
work by the OSCE Minsk Group on the situation regarding Nagorno- Karabakh.
19. Unfortunately, not much has changed at the level of regional
stabilisation. On the contrary, the rhetoric between Armenia and
Azerbaijan has toughened. There are mutual threats of war and, without
a peace agreement and co-operation between the countries in the
region, there is a genuine risk of the conflict escalating.
Given the lack of success of all the measures taken in the
last five years, and considering that the views of the parties concerned
on a stability pact in the Caucasus might have evolved since 2007,
a new motion for a resolution on a new parliamentary effort to create
a stability pact in the Caucasus was tabled on 30 June 2011 by Mr
Gross and others (Doc.
). The Political Affairs Committee appointed me as rapporteur
on 14 November 2011.
The motion indicated that the Assembly should:
- consider the necessity for the
creation of a permanent dialogue and political, economic and cultural
co-operation between the States from the Caucasus region;
- invite Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia to co-operate more
actively with the Council of Europe and the European Union in order
to achieve and strengthen stability and democracy in the Caucasus
- invite the parties and civil society representatives of
the countries concerned to discuss this idea and to reach an agreement
for the establishment of a stability pact for the Caucasus region;
- actively support and assist the OSCE Minsk Group in its
effort to reach a lasting peace agreement.
22. To pursue our work at committee level, I started by consulting
our colleagues from the three South Caucasus member States on their
readiness to act with a view to establishing such a pact. Fact-finding missions
to the area and a parliamentary hearing with the participation of
those concerned were also proposed as being appropriate for achieving
23. In this respect, the success of the Stability Pact for South
Eastern Europe, which had been established by the European Union
in co-operation with key international organisations operating in
the region, could be an example. The concept of this Pact was the
following: under the aegis of the Stability Pact, the countries concerned
would elaborate projects of common interest involving two or three
of them in different areas including infrastructure, economy, environment
and social development. The Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe
did not have its own funds; its role consisted of looking for possible
sources of financing and bringing together projects and donors.
24. At the beginning of 2012, meetings were held between the Presidents
of Armenia and Azerbaijan, which seemed encouraging for an improvement
of the situation in the South Caucasus. For example, on 23 January 2012,
the two Presidents met in Krasnaja Poljana, near the resort of Sotchi.
The meeting was mediated by the then Russian President, Mr Medvedev.
25. With the committee’s authorisation, I went to Georgia from
4 to 7 June 2012 in order to consult the Georgian authorities on
the proposal to set up instruments for co-operation between the
three south Caucasian States.
26. During this visit, I met representatives of international
organisations, parliamentarians, the Deputy Minister of Foreign
Affairs of Georgia, Mr Tornike Gordadze, the Ambassador of Armenia,
Mr Hovhannes Manoukian, and representatives from the Georgian Foundation
for Strategic and International Studies. The Ambassador of Azerbaijan,
whom I had also asked to meet, was not available.
27. I was pleased to note that both the government and the opposition
in Georgia supported the idea of establishing a stability pact in
the South Caucasus. My interlocutors stated, however, that such
a pact could only be successful if the Council of Europe and the
European Union were to be actively involved in it and were ready
to be the driving force. Georgia, for its part, was ready to be
a partner in this process.
28. The Speaker of the Parliament, Mr David Bakradze, told me
that Georgia would support any initiative whose aim was to increase
stability in the region.
29. The Armenian Ambassador felt that the initiative was positive.
He recalled, however, the role of the Minsk Group in the settlement
of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and advised that its work should
not be interfered with.
30. During the Parliamentary Assembly’s June 2012 part-session,
I met with Mr Davit Harutyunyan and Mr Samad Seyidov, Heads of the
Armenian and Azeri delegations respectively, who agreed with my
plan to visit both capitals and then, if reactions were positive,
to organise a parliamentary round table to discuss how best to pursue
31. A conference on Georgia’s European Way took place in Batumi
in July 2012 in which the Presidents of both Armenia and Azerbaijan,
together with European Union Commissioner Füle, responsible for
enlargement and European neighbourhood policy, were due to participate.
If the presidents had participated, even if they did not hold direct
talks, it would have shown a certain change in the attitudes of
both countries towards possible reconciliation. Unfortunately this
was not the case.
32. After the elections in Georgia in October 2012, a new political
force – the “Georgian dream” coalition – came to power, and it is
not clear yet whether or not it will pursue the commitments of the
previous Government of Georgia in this respect.
Encouraged by a first, definitely positive visit, I started
preparing a visit to Baku and Yerevan, due to have taken place in
September 2012. Sadly, the Safarov caseNoteNote
at the beginning of September, and
the serious deterioration of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan
which ensued, rendered my visit inopportune. The Assembly held a
current affairs debate on the Safarov case on 4 October 2012.
34. Today, as in 2006, the establishment of instruments
for co-operation between the three south Caucasian States would
require the full and active support of all those concerned. Unfortunately,
the climate, already unfavourable, has deteriorated to such a point
that I do not consider it advisable to put forward concrete proposals
at this stage.
35. Armenia and Azerbaijan must, however, be reminded of the commitments
they entered into when they joined the Council of Europe, commitments
which are monitored by the Assembly’s Committee on the Honouring
of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of
Europe (Monitoring Committee).
36. The invitation extended by the President of the Assembly to
the leaders of the delegations of Armenia and Azerbaijan to the
Parliamentary Assembly should be welcomed, but a greater involvement
of the Assembly is needed.
37. The resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict could open
up the opportunity to establish a stability pact and to promote
greater regional co-operation in the South Caucasus. This is not
only desirable for the Council of Europe, but also it is first and
foremost in the interest of the people of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.
During an exchange of views on this issue, held in Turin on
14 December 2012, the leader of the Armenian delegation, Mr Davit
Harutyunyan, stated that, in the meantime, co-operation would be
acceptable for Armenia in non-controversial areas such as:
- trans-boundary water problems;
- cross-border co-operation to promote economic development;
ensure secure and efficient borders; promote people-to-people co-operation
through land border programmes between two or more countries sharing
a common border; and multilateral programmes covering a sea basin;
- transnational co-operation against cybercrime.
39. On 21 January 2013, the Azeri delegation sent me its position
on this information report, further to which I made some corrections.
The positive point is the fact that “the Azerbaijani delegation
shares the view that there is a need to eliminate hate and establish
trust in the region”, even if it feels that the differences between the
two regions make it impossible to apply, in the South Caucasus,
the example of the Security Pact for South Eastern Europe. It should
also be noted as positive that the delegation believes “that public
discussions on the issue should continue with a view to establishing
common ground among the South Caucasian States. In this regard,
the Azerbaijani delegation is of the opinion that contacts and interactions
among the delegations of the South Caucasian States to the Parliamentary
Assembly can contribute to this process, once these discussions are
based on a concrete agenda.
40. The Azeri delegation “supports the idea of organising an international
conference for security and co-operation in the South Caucasus,
with its main goal being to assess the specific needs and to establish
the practical conditions for launching such a Stability Pact”. It
also “shares the necessity for the creation of a permanent dialogue
between the States from the Caucasus region”, while regretting “that
the conditions present on the ground are not conducive for that
and, for the time being, these measures are not feasible in the
41. As for the instruments for co-operation between the three
South Caucasian States, the Azerbaijani delegation would like to
“focus on current interactions among the parliamentary delegations
to the PACE, which could contribute to the promotion of the idea
of the stability pact at this stage of affairs”. However, it feels
that “while Armenia continues to question the territorial integrity
and internationally recognised borders of the Republic of Azerbaijan,
there simply cannot be any ‘non-controversial’ issue between the
two countries. Co-operation across the occupied territories is impossible
both politically and practically”.
42. Provided that the three delegations concerned agree, the committee
could organise a round table on these issues as a follow-up to this