Why the EU must review its Eastern Partnership strategy

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

A view of damages after shelling by Azerbaijani artillery, Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh, 04 October 2020. [EPA-EFE/DAVID GHAHRAMANYAN / NKR INFOCENTER / PAN PHOTO]

The events in Nagorno-Karabakh and Belarus demonstrate that it’s time for the EU to review the effectiveness of its Eastern Partnership, writes Urmas Paet.

Urmas Paet is an Estonian member of the European Parliament (Renew Europe).

It is not acceptable to use violence and killings in international affairs, including between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

You can try to force changes when you have power, but it is clear that such changes will not last. The only sustainable answer to the conflict can be a mutually agreed and mutually accepted solution.

It means negotiations, it means talking to each other, and it means diplomacy.

Right now, the only result of the actions of the political leaders is the suffering of civilians, killings and people losing their homes. Violence begets violence.

This will have long-lasting consequences.

Looking at history, also the recent history, the people of South Caucasus, including the people of Armenia and Azerbaijan have suffered enormously because of the political violence and this spiral must be stopped.

The EU has contributed to the wellbeing and growth of these societies. One of these examples is the Eastern Partnership Program.

It has helped to demonstrate that the only way to bring prosperity to societies is a peaceful way.

Violent choices tend to throw societies into long and agonizing misery, poverty and regression.

The EU must continue to help Armenia and Azerbaijan to find a way to alleviate this long-term hatred and reach a solution.

However, this cannot be done at a time of war.

Furthermore, in light of the recent developments in the Nagorno-Karabakh region but also in Belarus, the EU has to think about how to approach the future of the Eastern Partnership program.

Out of six partnership countries, two are fighting and killing each other and the third one is harassing, demeaning and using violence against its people. Therefore, we have to ask ourselves, how we should move on with Eastern Partnership.

I am guessing it is time to review it.

In addition, if some other interested parties, such as Turkey or Russia, truly want to invest in ending the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, there is a way.

However, it is not by sending mercenaries or fighters to the conflict or assisting in some other military form.

Instead, they can contribute to a peaceful solution with diplomatic means or by facilitating the negotiations.

Any kind of military intervention must be avoided and all parties must invest in achieving an end to the killings and finally getting the two countries behind the negotiation table to come up with a solution.

Overall, for there to be any possibilities for increasing the living standard and development of the people and societies in Armenia and Azerbaijan, the killing must end at once.

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