By Gulgiz Muradova
The first round of the long-awaited talks between the European Union and Azerbaijan on new strategic partnership agreement maybe held this spring.
“The date for round 1 of negotiations has not yet been confirmed yet, but we expect this to take place in Azerbaijan in the spring,” an EU spokesperson said in an interview with Azernews.
The new agreement should replace the 1996 partnership and cooperation agreement and should better take account of the shared objectives and challenges the EU and Azerbaijan face today. The deal will follow the principles endorsed in the 2015 review of the European neighborhood policy and offer a renewed basis for political dialogue and mutually beneficial cooperation between the EU and Azerbaijan.
As to the duration of negotiations, the spokesperson mentioned that it will depend on the progress made, adding: “It cannot be predicted at this stage but our intention is to be efficient as well as ambitious”.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev visited Brussels on February 5-6 for meetings with President Jean Claude Juncker , President Donald Tusk, and High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini, as well as Vice-President Maros Sefcovic and Commissioner Johannes Hahn.
President Aliyev and President Tusk announced that the negotiations on a new EU-Azerbaijan agreement were to be launched on February 7. The first round of negotiations – a launching round took place as planned on February 7 in Brussels.
The spokesperson, commenting on the current status of the EU-Azerbaijan interaction over new strategic partnership deal, said the launch of the talks reflects that we want to upgrade our relationship and develop its full potential.
“The new agreement will broaden the scope of our relations, taking into account the new global, political and economic interests we share and challenges we want to face together,” the official said.
The negotiations should cover the full range of provisions for an eventual agreement, including political provisions; trade- provisions and; sectorial policy (energy; environment; transport etc.) provisions. All are of equal importance to the EU, the spokesperson added.
This also reflects Azerbaijan's priorities and the contents of its own draft proposal for a new agreement, handed over during the Riga Eastern Partnership Summit in May 2015.
Novruz Mammadov, the deputy head of the Azerbaijani presidential administration, chief of the administration's foreign relations department, has recently assessed the cooperation between Azerbaijan and the EU as successful, underlining that it is essential to continue this cooperation further.
Over the past years, Azerbaijan had a very close cooperation with EU’s various institutions and member countries. The energy-rich country signed and adopted documents on strategic partnership with nine member countries of the EU.
The Baku-Brussels cooperation covers all the area, while the energy and transport sectors have a unique place. Azerbaijan is committed to further development of energy cooperation with the EU by realization of Southern Gas Corridor (SGC), a unique project which will bring Caspian gas to Europe.
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