Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/south Caucasus: Stronger Ties in Limbo Due to Azerbaijan-Northern Cyprus Flights

Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/south Caucasus: Stronger Ties in Limbo Due to Azerbaijan-Northern Cyprus Flights

Article excerpt

It had been hoped that the EU would finalise bilateral 'action plans' with Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia by the end of the year under European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). This is the policy that looks to enhance the EU's relations with its post-enlargement neighbours to the East and South - a framework that the three South Caucasus countries were added to in mid-2004.

But over the summer, Baku started allowing direct flights from Azerbaijan to the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. This is a sensitive move when it comes to relations with the EU, as the Greek Cypriot administration on the southern half of the divided Mediterranean island became a member of the expanding bloc in May 2004.

EU member states must endorse any action plans negotiated and proposed by the European Commission and sources suggested that it would be hard in present circumstances to imagine (Greek) Cyprus agreeing to an action plan with Azerbaijan if the latter were still allowing the Northern Cypriot flights.

Wider implications.

But the situation does not have consequences only for Azerbaijan. As it stands, Armenia's and Georgia's hopes of a swift conclusion of their action plans are being held hostage to the Azerbaijan difficulty. Indeed, as a distinctly disgruntled source from one of the two countries complained, a first round of action plan consultations due in September had been cancelled.

An EU source confirmed to Europe Information that for the time being it had been decided to hold off work on all of the plans, in the hope that the matter could be resolved sometime soon and that the action plans for all three South Caucasus countries could be presented at the same time as originally planned. …

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