Questioning the EU's normative power in Azerbaijan: an Assessment of the EU's democracy promotion programmes from the recipients' perspective
Although the academic literature has already largely dealt with the EU democracy promotion, notably towards its Neighbourhood, little attention has been granted to laggard countries in terms of human rights and democracy, including Azerbaijan. The country's human rights record is worrisome and worsening, especially since the 2014 crackdown on the civil society. Drawing on the concept of Normative Power Europe and relying on qualitative interviews, this thesis questions the extent to which the EU remains a normative power in Azerbaijan, considering both the concrete achievements of the EU on the ground and their assessment by representatives of the Azerbaijani civil society. The present contribution underlines the importance of taking into account the recipients' perspective(s) for the analysis of democracy promotion programmes. This research reveals that the EU's democracy promotion agenda does not follow a unique approach but that the different EU institutions favour distinct instruments to foster democratisation in Azerbaijan. It also appears that EU institutions have not consistently enforced their democracy promotion programmes. The local civil society, while praising the EU's narrative, awaits more commitment and more implementation from the regional organisation. Local democracy promoters advocate for a tougher stance from the EU, involving stronger conditionality mechanisms and sanctions.