EU and Azerbaijan continue constructive dialogue in Baku

During his visit to Baku on 3 May, Štefan Füle, European Commissioner responsible for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, stated that the European Union (EU) remains committed to the further development of bilateral relations with Azerbaijan.

Commissioner Füle met Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to discuss the broadening of the mutual relationship, both in the framework of the EU Eastern Partnership, and in terms of supporting Azerbaijan in its modernisation and reform efforts. The Commissioner welcomed Azerbaijani efforts to increase its partnership commitment to EU.

Commissioner Füle stated: “This is an important year, [...] (as) the Vilnius Summit in November 2013 will highlight the achievements of the EU Eastern Partnership. In this framework, we have agreed with President Aliyev to make every effort to raise the EU–Azerbaijan relationship to an even higher level and to further enhance its quality – based on our mutual interests and shared values.”

The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS) welcomes Commissioner Füle’s significant trip to the South Caucasus, as such visits are always the catalyst for increased co-operation. This should provide a chance to share ideas and highlight mutual opportunities for co-operation. During the visit, many issues were raised, including visa facilitation, energy and the forthcoming presidential elections.

Dr Roman Huna, Head, TEAS Belgium, commented: “The visit of Commissioner Füle means a great deal for Azerbaijan and its people. In particular, the negotiations on the visa facilitation and readmission agreements appear to be very close to conclusion. This will permit Azerbaijani citizens to take advantage of the simplified procedures regarding travel to Europe. At the same time, the topics of energy and the presidential elections have been discussed in a remarkably open way.”

However, TEAS remains committed to one particular topic that appears to have been marginalised on the international political agenda – the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. As Armenian armed forces continue to occupy around 18 per cent of Azerbaijani territory, causing 875,000 people to become Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees, TEAS believes this fact should now be on top of the political agenda.

Dr Huna continued: “The visit by Commissioner Füle provided a great opportunity to raise the issue of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the need for a quick and sustainable solution of this conflict at Europe’s border. During his visit, he stated that continuance of the status quo remains unacceptable. We do hope that, in the forthcoming months, this important issue will be raised again.”

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