Baku, Sept 15 (CTK) – The EU Eastern Partnership project would lose its key part if Azerbaijan left it, Czech President Milos Zeman said on his visit to the country yesterday, reacting to the Azeri parliament’s call for the government to reassess participation in the project.
Azeri media reported yesterday that parliament has suspended the country’s membership of European inter-parliamentary institutions and made the above call on the government.
Parliament made the decision in reaction to a resolution the European Parliament (EP) approved last week and that criticises human rights violations in Azerbaijan.
The resolution the parliament approved last Thursday denounces the “unprecedented repressions against civic society in Azerbaijan.”
It calls for European representatives to consider imposing sanctions against all politicians, officials and judges participating in political persecution.
The EP also called for a thorough investigation into the accusations of corruption levelled against President Ilham Aliyev and members of his family.
The resolution was approved shortly after opposition journalist Khadija Ismail, who was revealing corruption in the government circles, was convicted of tax evasion, illegal business and embezzlement in Baku and sent to prison for 7.5 years at the beginning of September.
Shortly before, Leyla and Arifa Junus, leading Azeri dissidents, were sentenced to 8.5 and seven years in prison, respectively.
Azeri parliament said on Monday the EP resolution is “a proof of a systematic campaign aimed to denigrate Azerbaijan.”
It said there is a hostile lobby in the EP that slanders Azerbaijan’s leading politicians and supports the occupation of Nagorno Karabakh, an Azeri enclave, by neighbouring Armenia.
The Eastern Partnership project is also participated in by Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
Zeman said at a press conference he gave together with Aliyev the project has nothing in common with the EP resolution. He said the EP did not initiate it and it did not discuss it.
Aliyev told journalists that he does not consider the EP resolution meaningful and that it reflects the Armenian lobby’s interests.