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Baku gets reform aid from Europe

Aug. 24, 2012 at 12:12 PM

BRUSSELS, Aug. 24 (UPI) -- The European Commission announced new funding to assist the government in Azerbaijan with reforms needed for improved ties with Europe.

An annual action program outlined by the European Commission provides $24.4 million in assistance to "help reform the institutions responsible for bilateral relations with the EU; in particular those in the areas of justice and migration."

The commission said the support would help reduce economic disparities in Azerbaijan by targeting socio-economic development.

"This support will contribute to the implementation of the actions agreed in the context of the EU Azerbaijan action plan, including in streamlining the visa application process, which will help to increase mobility for Azerbaijani people," the commission said.

Human Rights Watch said in May that police in Baku assaulted people who were demonstrating against the government of President Ilham Aliyev ahead of the Eurovision Song Contest.

Members of the European Parliament adopted a resolution expressing concern over human rights abuses in the Azeri capital during the celebrations. Around 100 activists had gathered near a central metro station before being run off by authorities.

European lawmakers had called for monitoring of the human rights situation in Azerbaijan should abuses persist.

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