TEAS welcomes Van Rompuy visit to Baku – but urges the EU to do more on Nagorno-Karabakh

Press Release: The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS) today (5 July 2012) welcomed the “fruitful” visit to Baku by European Council President, Herman Van Rompuy, but said the EU should show a greater commitment to the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which threatened regional stability.

Mr Van Rompuy’s visit to Baku marks the conclusion of an intense political Spring, during which several EU institutions produced working documents on Azerbaijan. In April this year, the European Parliament passed a draft report concerning an EU-Azerbaijan Association agreement, which was later discussed in the College of the European Commission. In May, the European Commission agreed on an “open-ended” European Neighbourhood Policy action plan for Azerbaijan, underlining the importance of mutual co-operation on several policy issues.

Roman Huna, Head of TEAS’ Belgium office, said that Mr Van Rompuy’s visit to Azerbaijan, his first to the country, symbolised the intensifying ties between the EU and Azerbaijan and underlined the scope for further co-operation to the mutual benefit of both, especially in the areas of energy and trade and investment.

Mr Huna said he greatly welcomed Mr Van Rompuy’s emphasis on fast developing energy co-operation as an important positive dimension of the bilateral relationship and his stress on the “huge potential” to push forward on negotiations on a new Association Agreement, including on trade and investments.  He also appreciated the President’s praise for the role that Azerbaijan plays as a secular society, committed to the principles of coexistence of religion.

However, Mr Huna said that it was not enough for Mr Van Rompuy to say that progress on the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict should “remain a top priority”.  The EU needed to underline the need for respect for international law and to show even more commitment to the resolution of the conflict, which threatens regional stability.  In doing so it would both provide the basis for secure and stable co-operation between the EU and Azerbaijan and offer a message of hope to the 875,000 internally displaced people in Azerbaijan.

In his remarks following his meeting with Azerbaijan President, Ilham Aliyev, Mr Van Rompuy, praised the “rapid modernisation” of the country and stressed three points:  the value of the relationship and the benefits that both had gained through co-operation; Azerbaijan’s commitment to the principles of coexistence of religion; and the need to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.  He concluded that he was “happy that we have been able to confirm our shared commitment to lift the EU-Azerbaijan partnership to a higher level.”