Nagorno-Karabakh conflict takes centre stage at EU–Azerbaijan Cooperation Council meeting in Brussels

On 17 December 2012, the Cooperation Council between the European Union (EU) and Azerbaijan held its thirteenth meeting in Brussels, with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remaining top priority for both parties.

The meeting provided a platform that enabled ‘frank and open discussion’ following what is described by the EU as ‘very intensive year for bilateral relations’; high profile EU figures, including Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council; Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission; Günther Oettinger, European Commissioner for Energy; and Štefan Füle, Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy, all visited Azerbaijan in 2012.

The delegation from Azerbaijan was led by Elmar Mammayfyarov, Minister of Foreign Affairs, who met EU representative, Dr Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus, acting as Chair of the Cooperation Council of behalf of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton; and Štefan Füle, Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy.

A review of the progress surrounding the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict took centre stage, with the EU reaffirming its position that the existing status quo is insupportable and that reaching a resolution remains a top priority. Both sides again confirmed their support for the endeavors of the OSCE Minsk Group, with the EU confirming its role in supporting confidence-building measures.

The Cooperation Council also discussed issues including the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plan, which includes World Trade Organisation accession, and the strengthening of bilateral relations between the EU and Azerbaijan under the Eastern Partnership framework.

The EU advocated the importance of reform and transparency in Azerbaijan relating to the presidential elections that are scheduled to take place in October 2013, to ensure that they are in line with international standards.

The issue of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Azerbaijan were discussed, with the EU reaffirming its position of support in the further development of democratic institutions in the country.

The Council also discussed EU–Azerbaijan ties in the energy sector and highlighted the bilateral agreements between Azerbaijan and Turkey relating to the construction and operation of the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP). All members of the Council reconfirmed the importance of the development of the Southern Corridor in achieving energy security from the Caspian Sea to the EU.

Speaking prior to the meeting, Dr Kozakou-Marcoullis commented: “Azerbaijan and the EU have shown their strong commitment in intensifying and deepening their cooperation.”

Read the full statement from the Council of the European Union here (PDF): http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/er/134395.pdf.