The Bureau of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on Monday decided to send a seven person assessment mission to evaluate the referendum being held in Azerbaijani on 26 September. The referendum is being held to seek popular approval for proposed amendments to the country's constitution. The role of the PACE mission is not yet clear since the mission is too small to be able to observe the referendum comprehensively.
In a move that would have displeased the Azerbaijani government, the Bureau also decided to refer the consitutional amendments to the Venice Commission for an opinion. The Venice Commission provides legal and constitutional advise to Council of Europe member states on legislation and constitutional changes. Earlier the Azerbaijan government had rejected calls from the US and other western governments to refer the amendments to the Venice Commission prior to submitting them to the people for approval.
"As expected the declaration from the 5th Eastern Partnership summit did not change in any significant way the approach of the EU to the eastern neighbourhood. However the declaration has something for everybody, and there are interesting nuances in the text that can form the basis in the future for the next steps in the EU's engagement with the region", commonspace.eu political editor said in a comment.
Getting the Eastern Neighbourhood right is a key necessity for the future security and prosperity of Europe. The Brussels summit offers an opportunity for important steps on this matter in the right direction – not as an end in themselves but rather as a part of a longer term and more ambitious vision.