Two important documents of the European Union: emphasis on sovereignty and territorial integrity

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Baku, 3 May 2019 –

The European Parliament adopted two historic documents at one of its recent sessions, identifying the threats faced by the organization and the main principles of counteraction. Brussels obviously treats the problem very seriously because both resolutions focus largely on the existing threats, underlining their destructive role. Hybrid warfare seems to pose the major threat to the European Union. The military element also plays a role here. In fact, a common threat emerges to both the EU member states and young independent countries. This situation jeopardizes sovereignty and territorial integrity of states. In order to tackle these challenges, Brussels decided to determine the principles of counteraction. In this context, this article will look at the geopolitical aspect of EU-Azerbaijan relations.

Baku-Brussels line: interest in strategic partnership

There are forces that try to spoil Azerbaijan-European Union relationship. Time after time they ramp up efforts, causing controversies and tension between the country and the organization. Unfortunately, among them are a number of EU institutions. The Council of Europe is one of them. But strong Azerbaijani diplomacy has helped change the situation in favor of the country. The European Union is gradually realizing that Azerbaijan is the leader of the South Caucasus and plays a key role in ensuring security of the region.

Two resolutions adopted by the European Parliament included "Resolution on a European Parliament recommendation to the Council and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy concerning taking stock of the follow-up taken by the EEAS two years after the EP report on EU strategic communication to counteract propaganda against it by third parties'' and "Resolution on a European Parliament recommendation to the European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy concerning the activity of foreign representatives of the European Union''.

These documents prioritize the EU`s tasks in areas such as security, foreign policy, propaganda, information warfare, etc. The European Union is increasingly focusing on strategic communication and counteraction against cyberattacks and propaganda from third parties.

Brussels warns against threats from Russia, Iran, North Korea and terrorist organizations. The documents condemn Russian cyberattacks as well as aggressive actions to undermine or suspend the normative foundations and principles of European democracies and the sovereignty of all Eastern Partnership countries, as well as influence elections and support extremist movements, taking into account that the scale of cyberattacks is constantly growing. By using "disinformation of third countries'' expression, the EU admits the existence of destructive and hostile action against itself and its partners. This may cause serious problems for sovereignty and territorial integrity of states. With this in mind, the European Parliament recommends "to consider the current proliferation and future threats of disinformation aiming to threaten the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of all Eastern Partnership countries within their internationally recognized borders''.

Brussels admits that cyberattacks and hybrid wars pose the major threat to it. And these threats are directly related to the strategic communication means. "Strategic communication means'' imply the advanced information and communication technologies used by developed countries. The European Parliament stresses that there are countries that use the military-information and communication technologies against sovereignty of EU member states. These threats come in different forms. To counteract them, the EU set up a global foreign policy strategy, which identifies sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of borders of all EU member and non-member states as a key element of European security.

Inviolability of borders: one of the core principles

These resolutions show that apart from its member states, the EU cares about territorial integrity and sovereignty of all its partners. In this context, interesting conclusions can be made about the European Union`s attitude towards Azerbaijan. The resolutions show that despite anti-Azerbaijani slander campaigns conducted by certain forces, the European Union gradually starts to see the reality. Realizing the necessity of cooperation with the South Caucasus leader, Brussels is now taking a sensitive approach to Baku. And one of the cornerstones of this attitude is recognizing Azerbaijan`s territorial integrity and inviolability of its borders.

It should be emphasized that Armenian officials and marginal media outlets allege that the European Union is talking about territorial integrity of Ukraine and Georgia, but remains silent when it comes to Azerbaijan. But the resolutions proved that the allegations are unfounded. The European Union recognizes sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan like of all independent states. In addition, the organization reaffirms its interest in protecting independent states from possible threats.

Azerbaijan is therefore a very valuable country for Europe from the geopolitical perspective. At the same time, it is clear that Armenia`s aggression is unacceptable. The Armenian armed forces must withdraw from Azerbaijan`s occupied territories. And there is no other option. Interestingly, the European Parliament adopted the resolutions just a week after Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan`s visit to Brussels. This means that Brussels disregards the Armenian prime minister`s statements. There are no doubts that the European Union is interested in close cooperation with Azerbaijan.

This manifests itself as the country and the organization are now in the process of establishing relations under Azerbaijan-proposed cooperation strategy. Brussels agreed to strategic cooperation under Baku`s terms. So Azerbaijan-EU relations will undoubtedly continue to develop.

The resolutions are of pivotal geopolitical importance. The European Union is committed to advancing its interests in a more effective manner. It also intends to take serious action to ensure sovereignty and territorial integrity of former Soviet republics. This may naturally fuel tension in EU-Russia relationship, which will be felt in the South Caucasus too. On the other hand, we have tense U.S.-Russia standoff in the region. Such a geopolitical situation may encourage the emergence of new risks in the South Caucasus.

Most importantly the EU prioritizes the issue of sovereignty and territorial integrity of regional states. So this should manifest itself in Brussels` actions. A logical conclusion from this is that the EU should take action against any force that tries to challenge its principles. But will the European Union do it? It`s difficult to give an ambiguous answer to this question because, unfortunately, like other superpowers the EU sometimes resorts to a double standard policy in order to protect its limited interests.

It is a fact that the geopolitical reality has already changed. So it should be realized that the game of double standards is doomed to failure. If Brussels does not behave according to the documents that it adopts, they will be of no value. And this may ruin Europe`s hopes of strategic partnership with Azerbaijan.

Taking all this into account we can say that the resolutions adopted by the European Parliament are a historic chance for Brussels. These documents unambiguously show that the organization faces serious threats, and tackling them is of crucial importance. And one of the key components of the struggle is removing threats to sovereignty and territorial integrity of countries. Why not to start from ending the Armenian aggression?

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