Azerbaijan’s Suspended Engagement With PACE: A Geopolitical Scenario

Plenary chamber of PACE
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe – PACE (Credits: Adrian Grycuk, CC BY-SA 3.0 PL, via Wikimedia Commons)

Kavkaz Files ISSN 2975-0474 Volume 21 Issue 4
Author: Silvia Boltuc

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has decided not to ratify the credentials of the Azerbaijani delegation, citing concerns about the country’s failure to fulfil major commitments related to democratic processes, human rights, and the Nagorno-Karabakh situation. Azerbaijan has subsequently suspended its cooperation with PACE.

Given the concerns raised by NGOs about the recent crackdown by Azeri authorities on free media, the resolution passed by the French Senate regarding the September 2023 military operation, and the decision by the PACE, there is a possibility of strained relations between Baku and Brussels. Besides significant consequences for the energy market, such a development might create an opening for Moscow to enhance its influence in Azerbaijan.

Key Findings

  1. PACE has refused to ratify the credentials of the Azerbaijani delegation because of concerns about democratic processes, human rights violations, and the handling of the Nagorno-Karabakh situation.
  2. Azerbaijan has suspended its cooperation with PACE, citing perceived bias, discrimination, and an unbearable atmosphere in the legislative body.
  3. Brussels may face increasing pressure, leading to a reduced support for Baku and potential repercussions in the energy market. This scenario could present an opportunity for Moscow to strengthen its partnership with Azerbaijan.

PACE and Azerbaijan:
Background Information

On January 24th, 2024, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) decision to reject the credentials is based on concerns regarding Azerbaijan’s failure to uphold democratic principles, human rights, and its handling of the Nagorno-Karabakh situation. The Azerbaijani delegation accuses PACE of bias, discrimination, and contributing to an unbearable atmosphere.

Increasing pressure is being exerted on Brussels to hold Baku accountable for human rights violations and reconsider their strategic partnership.


The ongoing crisis between the deliberative body of the Council of Europe and Azerbaijan has the potential to affect Azerbaijani-EU relations and, consequently, the dynamics of the energy market, especially considering Brussels designating Baku as a key strategic partner for natural gas imports following the onset of the Ukraine conflict.

Despite criticisms from various NGOs and activists highlighting concerns about the Azerbaijani government’s human rights record, Brussels has prioritised its Energy Security Strategy over these alarming violations.

Therefore, Azerbaijan has played a pivotal role in the EU energy security framework, raising questions about the extent to which geopolitical considerations outweigh democratic values in the European approach.

The recent conflicts involving Azerbaijan, notably the rapid military operation against Nagorno-Karabakh/Artsakh in September 2023, underscored Baku’s inclination towards military solutions rather than diplomatic avenues.

Read more | OSINT Report: Nagorno-Karabakh Crisis, Armenophobia and the so-called ‘Azerbaijani Telegram Channels’ in Russian language

In addition, Azerbaijan’s recent surge in repression within the country is worrisome, especially as it targets independent media funded by foreign entities and journalists who criticise the government and unveil high-level corruption.

Brussels not only needs to consider PACE’s decision related to Azerbaijan, but also face the dilemma coming from allegations which accused Azerbaijani authorities of spreading and promoting Armenophobia as well as reports of mistreatment of Armenian prisoners of war surface. These developments pose a challenge to Brussels’ commitment to human rights and democracy, requiring a nuanced evaluation of its relationship with Azerbaijan in the context of its core values.

The divide between Brussels and Baku might deepen after the French Senate condemned the ‘military invasion of Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh’. The resolution urges the withdrawal of Azerbaijani troops from Armenia’s sovereign territory, proposing sanctions and discussing with European partners measures such as embargoing Azerbaijani gas and oil imports.

A pivotal question emerges: could the intensifying crisis between some European institutions and Baku create an opening for Moscow to extend its influence in Azerbaijan?

The signing of a declaration on allied cooperation between President Ilham Aliyev and President Vladimir Putin in February 2022, coinciding with the outset of the Ukraine conflict, suggests a warming trend in bilateral relations.

The subsequent collaboration between Dagestan and Azerbaijan in transportations and logistics adds weight to the notion of growing Moscow-Baku ties, potentially exploiting the strained relationship between Azerbaijan and the EU for strategic advantage.

In the complex geopolitical dynamics between several European countries, Brussels and Baku, the significance of Ankara should not be overlooked. Erdogan has emphasised Turkey and Azerbaijan being ‘one nation with two states’. By lifting its veto on Sweden’s NATO accession, Turkey recently gained geopolitical leverage that it could potentially exploit to secure advantages in the Azerbaijani issue, as it has done with its interests in Syria.

Risk Assessment

The risk of further deterioration in relations between Azerbaijan and the EU is increasing, with several European actors and institutions pressuring for holding Baku accountable over human rights violations and controversial stances over Armenian sovereign territories. Territorial disputes and human rights concerns may lead to sanctions or other severe consequences, affecting not only political ties but also the energy market.

The crisis provides Moscow with a potential opening to increase its influence in Azerbaijan, posing a risk to the EU’s strategic interests in the region.

Scenarios Analysis

  1. De-escalation and Re-engagement. Diplomatic efforts lead to a de-escalation of tensions between Azerbaijan and the European institution. Both parties resume cooperation, addressing concerns and working towards a mutually beneficial relationship.
  2. Further Escalation and Isolation. Tensions continue to escalate, leading to a possible isolation of Azerbaijan by the EU. Sanctions or other punitive measures may be imposed, exacerbating the risk of regional instability.
  3. Moscow’s Increased Influence. Worsening relations between Baku and the European institution provides Moscow with an opportunity to strengthen its influence in Azerbaijan. Moscow may exploit the situation to establish closer ties with Baku, potentially affecting regional dynamics and energy partnerships.

Read more | Nagorno-Karabakh Crisis and Russia’s Strategy in the Region


In conclusion, tensions between Baku and the PACE, coupled with accusations of bias and territorial claims, might create future problems for EU-Azerbaijan relations and create an opportunity that Moscow may exploit to strengthen its influence in Azerbaijan and the South Caucasus.

As the country faces potential isolation or pressure from some European entities, Azerbaijan could pivot towards closer ties with its historical ally, Turkey, and the Russian Federation, especially with the upcoming presidential elections on February 7th, 2024.

Simultaneously, PACE’s decision against Azerbaijan may present opportunities for Armenia to enhance its relations with European institutions and Brussels.

The disappointment among Armenians concerning Moscow’s behaviour during Azerbaijan’s military offensive against Nagorno-Karabakh in September 2023 could drive Armenia to seek greater cooperation with the EU.

The unfolding dynamics in the South Caucasus, influenced by PACE’s decision, have the potential to alter diplomatic balances and reshape international relations in the region.

The implications of these developments extend beyond the immediate crisis, requiring vigilant monitoring of Baku and Yerevan’s foreign policy decisions. The confrontation between Brussels and Moscow may find a new battleground, affecting the delicate geopolitical equilibrium in the South Caucasus.

For those with an interest in acquiring comprehensive insights into the geopolitical dynamics of the South Caucasus and EU-Azerbaijan’s relations, we encourage you to reach out to our team by sending an email to We are poised to facilitate an assessment of the opportunity for you to obtain a meticulously crafted and specialised report tailored to your intelligence needs.

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