On 24th January 2024, the Azerbaijani delegation announced that it was ending its interaction with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) due to PACE's de facto support for the claims of the 'Artsakh' separatists in Karabakh, despite Azerbaijan having restored its territorial integrity. In response, the PACE voted in favour of limiting the powers of the Azerbaijani delegation, resulting in a conflict over a matter of principle. One of the PACE member countries has regained its territorial integrity. However, PACE appears to support separatism and territorial claims of some countries against others. This is concerning, particularly given the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine over similar issues. It is an alarming symptom for the unity of Europe.
Throughout its history, Europe has experienced numerous wars, often caused by territorial disputes between countries. The European Union was established to permanently end these conflicts and territorial claims. However, it has been revealed that the PACE, which is one of the most important European representative bodies alongside the European Parliament, rejects the cornerstone principle of inviolability of borders that the EU was supposed to be built upon.
Recalling the history of the last years of the USSR, one of the clear signs of its degradation was the artificial incitement of 'interethnic conflicts' on its territory. Typically, this took the form of separatist demands from certain nationalist forces, supervised by the KGB at the time.
The initial conflict was the Karabakh conflict, which arose due to the Hay population of the Nagorno-Karabakh region within Azerbaijan demanding secession from the Azerbaijani SSR and annexation to the Armenian SSR (the so-called 'Artsakh' miatsum).
It was evident that both separatist demands and so-called 'interethnic conflicts' were tacitly supported by the special services and the USSR top brass in Moscow. It is important to note that this is a subjective evaluation and should be marked as such.
Some members of the elite and special services believed that by artificially fueling separatism in small autonomies that were part of the larger Union republics, they could preserve the Union. This was especially true since the separatists initially appealed to the Union centre, demanding that it 'protect' their claims.
Following the model of 'Artsakh' separatism and the Karabakh conflict, separatism and conflicts were also ignited in Georgian Abkhazia and Samachablo, as well as in Moldovan Transnistria. Preconditions for separatism and conflict in Ukrainian Crimea began to emerge. These developments did not help to save the USSR; on the contrary, they accelerated its collapse. ut the tendencies are obvious - the degrading top of the geopolitical entity, which is built on "union principles" can bet on separatism in some subjects for the sake of preserving its power.
It seems that the EU top brass is beginning to take an example from the top brass of the late USSR. And it is very symbolic that the first precedent when "union" structures question the territorial integrity of the state and support separatism is the same Azerbaijani Karabakh.
Although the countries of the South Caucasus are not members of the EU, and only Georgia has recently been granted the status of an 'EU candidate', the principle of territorial integrity is still important. If Azerbaijan's territorial integrity is in doubt, then the territorial integrity of any European country can also be questioned, especially if the intervention of the EU's supranational bodies is needed in the event of a conflict.
The demands of the 'miatsum' in the late USSR and the current claims of Hay nationalists towards Azerbaijan share a commonality. Both exhibit the influence of French special services, which can be seen as the 'hand of Paris' at work.
Recently, in his speech to the country's armed forces, French President Emmanuel Macron stated that the Balkans and Armenia require our attention and force us to make a historical choice, particularly regarding Armenia. Macron has supported the territorial claims of Hay nationalists against Azerbaijan over Karabakh and is even preparing his army to fight for these claims.
Since the end of the 19th century, France and its special services have actively supported 'Hay' nationalism and its 'great Armenia' project. Today, this project appears to demonstrate the new possibilities of the French neo-colonial empire. It is suggested that France is being 'forced' out of Africa. However, the French elite is consolidating its influence in the EU and Eurasia through global projects. This is evident in the increasing subordination of pan-European structures in Brussels and Strasbourg to Paris's interests. Additionally, France's presence in Armenia is becoming more significant.
It is important to note that the use of separatism as a precedent benefits the 'Pan-European' officials and the EU bureaucracy in Brussels, even within the EU itself. It is not a coincidence that the Catalan separatists in Spain appeal to Brussels, as it increases the significance of European officials amidst weakening nation-states. Separatism in the EU highlights the importance of European officials.
However, it is worth considering whether PACE members fully comprehend this issue. Deputies, including those from countries where separatism is a concern, voted in favour of limiting the powers of the Azerbaijani delegation, which could be interpreted as supporting separatism.
76 out of the participating PACE deputies voted in favour of limiting the powers of the Azerbaijani delegation, while 10 voted against and 4 abstained.
The anti-Azerbaijani proposal was supported by Armenian delegates. Some delegations, such as Great Britain (1 out of 18) and Germany (4 out of 18), did not vote with their full composition. The delegation of Turkey, except the representative of the pro-Kurdish HDP, voted against it.
The delegations of Ukraine, Georgia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Moldova, Hungary, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Poland, Northern Macedonia, Serbia, Slovakia and Estonia abstained from voting.
The delegations of Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova were among those who left the voting hall in order not to openly oppose Azerbaijan. Countries that experience challenges with their territorial integrity often cite the Artsakh precedent of separatism as a contributing factor.
However, it should be noted that while Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova have been promised EU membership by Brussels, this does not guarantee that they will actually become members.
Similarly, Turkey has been a candidate for EU membership since 1999 but has made no progress towards joining. Additionally, Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, and Azerbaijan are all members of GUAM and should ideally coordinate their actions on international platforms. In this situation, Azerbaijan had the right to expect more principled behaviour from delegates of all three countries. It is irrelevant whether their votes would have been sufficient to change the outcome of the vote or not; what matters is one's own position. This is the position expressed by the Turkish delegation.
Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova are currently facing violations of their territorial integrity and occupation of their territories. In Georgia, there is an issue with the occupation of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region, while Ukraine is currently experiencing a large-scale war. The EU has not taken any action to prevent these violations. The delegates in PACE should have realized that they intend to 'punish' Azerbaijan because the country has restored its territorial integrity and expelled the occupants.