On September 15, Azerbaijan’s National Parliament (Milli Majlis) announced its decision to withdraw from the Euronest, a parliamentary forum of the EU and its eastern neighbors – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, and Belarus.
The decision came following the emergency session of Milli Majlis on September 14, which was called to discuss the recent resolution adopted by the European Parliament. The resolution, adopted on September 11 was critical of the country’s deteriorating rights record, and called for possible targeted sanctions and visa bans on Azerbaijani officials.
During the meeting in the parliament, Samad Seyidov, the head of Azerbaijan delegation to Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) suggested Azerbaijan cuts its ties with the organization.
Seyidov also called for going after the members of the European Parliament muzzled in corruption but stopped short of naming which parliament members were to be investigated.
Ali Hasanov, the deputy minister of Azerbaijan, and the head of the State Committee on Affairs of Refugees and Internally Displaced People said the European Parliament had no authority to adopt a resolution on Azerbaijan.
In the official statement by Euronest its co-presidents Heidi Hautala (Finland) and Victor Dolidzde (Georgia) noted regret with Milli Majlis’ decision.
“Participation in the Euronest PA remains, first and foremost, the voluntary and sovereign choice of each concerned Easter Partner which fulfills the criteria; in this sense, we take note of and respect the decision of the Azerbaijani Milli Majlis to withdraw. However, we believe that this development is unfortunate, and will also prevent Milli Majlis from speaking their voice in joint parliamentary proceedings of evident importance for the region”, read the statement.
In 2014, Azerbaijan called the Euronest PA “failed” and “unfortunate initiative”. The decision came shortly after the European Parliament called for the release of Leyla Yunus.
In 2013, Elkhan Suleymanov, the chairman of the Azerbaijani Delegation issued a statement boycotting the institution following Euronest’s critical report on the presidential elections, calling the report “political sabotage”. However, a week later Suleymanov travelled to Kiev for the Euronest meeting with Azerbaijan still participating as a member state.
Shortly after the European Parliament's resolution, Azerbaijan cancelled the European Commission delegation visit to Azerbaijan.