Masaryk university

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Faculty of social studies
Department of International Relations and European Studies


Assessing European Neighbourhood Policy and the Eastern Partnership as a normative tool within the context of South Caucasus: the case of Azerbaijan

Master’s Thesis

Kanan Abdullayev, B.A.

Supervisor: Mgr. Petra Kuchyňková, Ph.D.

UČO: 404863

Study Field: M.A. in European Politics

Year of Enrolment: 2013 In Brno, May 2015

Declaration of authorship
I, Kanan Abdullayev, hereby declare that this thesis describes entirely my own work. All passages, sentences and opinions quoted from other authros have been acknowledged by a clear cross - referencing to respective authors and sources.
Date 11 May 2015 Kanan Abdullayev
Signature ________________________


I wish to express the deepest appreciation to my supervisor Mgr. Petra Kuchyňková, PhD. whose valuable recommendations and suggestions guided me throughout the thesis writing period.

Also, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the International Visegrad Fund which was supporting me throughout my seond year of studies at Masaryk University.


Master’s Thesis 1

Introduction 4

Methodology 7

Theoretical Framework - Normative Power Europe 10

3.1 Civilian Power Europe 10

3.2 Normative Power Europe 12

3.2.1 Normative principles and values 15

3.2.2 Normative goals and interests 18

3.2.3 Normative mechanisms and actions. 20

3.2.4 Conditionality – normative mechanism? 22

3.2.5 Normative impact 24

3.3 Critique of Normative Power Europe 25

3.4 Partial conclusion 27

Normative approaches of the EU to the region of South Caucasus 28

4.1 Introduction. 28

4.2 European Neighbourhood Policy 29

4.3 Eastern Partnership 32

4.4 Qualitative analysis 34

4.4.1 Defining the categories of qualitative analysis 35

4.4.2 Qualitative analysis of the documents 37

4.5 Partial conclusion 42


Case study – EU-Azerbaijan 44

5.1 Introduction 44

5.2 Political developments since 2003 46

5.3 EU-Azerbaijan relations 50

EU-Azerbaijan: qualitative analysis. 53

5.4.1 Qualitative analysis of the documents 53

5.5 Partial conclusion 59

Assessing the impact of the EU on Azerbaijan 60

6.1 Process tracing 60

6.2 2009: developments and reactions 63

6.3 2010: developments and reactions 65

6.4 2011: developments and reactions 67

6.5 2012: developments and reactions 68

6.6 2013: developments and reactions 71

6.7 Findings 72

Conclusion 75

8. Bibliography 77

133.Prodi, Romano, 2002, A Wider Europe - A Proximity Policy As The Key To Stability, Speech/02/619, at Sixth ECSA-World Conference. Jean Monnet Project. [Accessed 10 May 2015]. Available from: 92

List of abbreviations
EU European Union

NPE Normative Power Europe

ENP European Neighbourhood Policy

EaP Eastern Partnership

AA Association Agreement

DCFTA Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area

AP Action Plan

NIP National Indicative Programme

EC European Commission


The collapse of the Soviet Union has enriched the international system by new independent states. Post-Soviet states desperately looked outward for international cooperation to cement their position in the arena. These searches were mainly focused on the West where, in the meantime, completing several rounds of institutional reformations the European Union had put itself firmly onto the map as a major actor in the region. However, various approaches to the role of the EU in the international system have emerged. One, particularly ambitious of them was coined by Manners as Normative Power Europe which argues that the EU relies solely on normative values and principles and acts using corresponding means to achieve its normative goals, which are to promote them internationally. In fact, political agenda since the collapse of the USSR has been more inclusive in terms of issues of democracy, human rights and freedoms. However, the theoretical concept of Manners advocates a peculiar role of the European Union which is not only based on values but also possesses transformative power that enforces implementation of norms in the target countries. Introduction of new initiatives such as European Neighbourhood Policy and Eastern Partnership, where the EU is able to address more specifically the normative agenda in bilateral relations increases the relevance of Manners’ concept. However, recent studies on the EU initiatives from the point of view of their normalization capabilities have raised concerns about efficiency of the EU’s normative policy setting in practice. Therefore, our research aims to enrich existing studies and literature with additional case study focused on testifying normative activities and impact of the European Union in Azerbaijan.

Our research design is aiming to find answers to the following 3 questions in order to deliver findings that can be valuable for the general topic:

  1. Does the European Union maintain normative agenda in the relationships with neighbourhood?

  2. Does the European Union maintain normative agenda in the relationships with Azerbaijan?

  3. Does the European Union evoke normative impact on the freedom of expression in Azerbaijan?

To design our research correspondingly, first we will develop an elaborated theoretical framework that we will rely on throughout the thesis. As I have already mentioned Manners’ Normative Power Europe is a core concept to be used as it presents an approach which evaluates the identity of the EU from both perspectives of internal nature and external behaviour. Moreover, the concept will be used to define the categories of what we understand by normative and how we can trace them in our further analyses. For the accuracy of the sought categories it is necessary also to take into consideration a secondary literature, apart from Manners principal works.

Theoretical framework and findings will be crucial for building the analytical part of the research. Using already defined normative categories allows us to answer the first research question. Positive answer will indicate the relevance of our study and strengthen feasibility of the next research questions. As a context for evaluation of bilateral relations of the EU on the normative categories, I will use European Neighbourhood Policy and the Eastern Partnership which represent an external dimension of the EU policies. Moreover, ENP/EaP can be regarded as a platform where the European Union can pose itself as transformative normative power. Eventually, our choice on ENP/EaP has crucial implications for the case study, where we focus on the country which participates in these initiatives. But in our considerations we will primarily focus on the Eastern Partnership because being more recent platform it appears to offer closer political cooperation allowing the EU to keep the normative priorities high on the agenda. However, the extent of normative manifestation of the EaP will be assessed using qualitative analysis of the documents covering the time span from 2009, when ambitious and more inclusive EaP was launched, to 2013 when the last Summit of the EaP took place in Vilnius and marked several important decisions for further cooperation. Qualitative analysis appears to be the most relevant method to be applied in the assessment of respective documents since it allows to single out and code normative elements (democracy, human rights, fundamental freedoms and rule of law) and group them in line with the categories defined in theoretical framework, thereby enhancing coherence of our research.

An in-depth examination of the way the European Union builds and promotes the norms will be explored on the case study of the EU-Azerbaijan relations. Political developments in Azerbaijan which usually run contrary to the normative principles despite deepening contacts between Azerbaijan and the EU, especially after the Eastern Partnership, make it a unique case which, apart from delivering the answer to our second question, can bring on additional data that can be used to explain the logic of the relationships. A number of local and international authors have sceptical view on the normative capabilities of the EU in Azerbaijan. In fact, the country possesses substantial energy resources making it attractive for the European countries. Simultaneously, the leverage of the EU over Azerbaijan is argued to be insufficient to prompt the regime to change its behaviour. But, does such disposition affect normative approach of the EU to the country? To clarify this issue it is necessary to analyse a number of bilateral documents covering year by year assessments of relations. To be consistent with general research design and to have comparable findings I will follow the same parameters applied in the first qualitative analysis: giving preference to the time span covering 2009-2013 and seeking for the same normative values, mechanisms and goals we have categorized in the previous analysis. Moreover, solving this research question will help us to identify what principles and values exactly the EU highlights within normative agenda.

Finally, to complete our research we have to find out whether the European Union is able to cause normative impact as long as it acts on normative basis. Therefore, the third research question hides a critical finding for the concluding evaluation. Keeping the time span consistent with all previous analyses (2009-2013) as it is more likely for positive impact to occur during the intensified Azerbaijan-EU relations after introduction of the EaP, I will focus on the problem of freedom of expression in Azerbaijan. On the one hand, freedom of expression constitutes a major category among normative values promoted by the EU. On the other hand, freedom of expression has been most repressed area as a result of regime’s policy. So, logically in this case we may expect to see quite strong and explicit reaction from the European Union which could cause positive impact. Process tracing method is the relevant tool to examine this case. First, this method helps to identify causal relations between particular actions of the EU and corresponding actions (inactions) of the Azerbaijani government. Causal relation is very important in our study considering a large number of other actors participating in the same realm. Findings of this case will have crucial implications for the conclusion of the study.

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