The conflicts in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Transnistria undermine the potential of the European Neighbourhood Policy and they worsen the human rights situation in the immediate neighbourhood of the European Union. Not being under the control of the metropolitan states, the separatist territories have become legal u0093black holesu0094 for human rights. While the situation differs from one area to another, the list of human rights problems in these regions is long. In addition to the high number of refugees and internally displaced persons, nationals of the metropolitan states are regularly discriminated and refused their right to return to their homes. Allegations of torture and mistreatment in prisons, lack of adequate recourse to justice, and disrespect for property rights are serious issues in the separatist entities. Civil rights and political liberties are infringed upon.
The steps taken by the European Union with a view to promoting conflict resolution, rehabilitation and the support of civil society do not amount to a comprehensive and coherent strategy. However, human rights violations in these de facto independent entities can only be addressed effectively, if the specific context is taken into account. In order to strengthen respect for human rights and rule of law in the European neighbourhood the European Union must firstly become more active in the conflict resolution processes and secondly move towards a targeted and conditioned use of EU assistance.