By Leman Mammadova
Azerbaijan and EU successfully cooperate in various fields, and relations between them are developing. The new partnership agreement to be signed will raise the cooperation between the parties to a higher level.
Current bilateral relations between the EU and Azerbaijan are based on the EU-Azerbaijan Partnership and Cooperation Agreement signed in 1996, covering many areas from trade to education.
The new agreement should replace the agreement of 1996, and should better take account of the common goals and challenges the EU and Azerbaijan face today.
Part of questions on trade block of new Azerbaijan-EU partnership agreement remains open, Hikmat Hajiyev, Head of the Department of Foreign Policy Affairs of the Azerbaijani Presidential Administration, told local media.
“Nearly most parts of the agreement have been agreed upon. There are some open points related to trade,” he said.
Hajiyev stressed the need to take into account the fact that the EU is a large trade block, and increase in export potential, access to new markets, consequently, the promotion of the interests of EU companies is its policy.
“In this regard, Azerbaijan acts as an equal partner of the EU, and, in turn, protects to a certain extent Azerbaijani entrepreneurs, including the jobs of Azerbaijani citizens who are employees of these companies, and has its own opinions and developments on issues of entering the European market under more favorable conditions,” he added.
“We regard this as a purely equal relationship. There may be different opinions between the parties, which are constructively discussed with the EU. The discussions will continue,” noted Hajiyev.
He pointed out that the new administration in the EU will come to power since November 1, and Azerbaijan will continue its dialogue with the new leadership. “We are not in time competitions. The goal is to sign a perfect document that will reflect the interests of both parties,” the official pointed out.
Hajiyev further emphasized that presently, Azerbaijan-EU relations are developing in all directions regardless of the presence or absence of this document. “Azerbaijan has a strategic partnership with 9 EU member states, and the EU is the main trading partner of Azerbaijan, including, Brussels that acts as the main investor in Azerbaijan.”
Presently, the work on the new agreement continues through teleconferences. The decision on the next round of negotiations will be made after these videoconferences.
The European Council adopted a mandate for the European Commission and the high representative for foreign affairs and security policy to negotiate, on behalf of the EU and its member states, a comprehensive agreement with Azerbaijan in November 2016.
Azerbaijan wants an agreement based on political equality with the EU. The EU recognizes the need to choose a differentiated approach to its neighbors. This means that Azerbaijan can benefit from the EU's political association and economic integration offerings at its own discretion.
The new agreement envisages the approximation of Azerbaijan's legislation and procedures to the most important international and trade norms and standards of the EU, which should lead to improved access of Azerbaijani products to the EU markets.
The agreement will comply with the principles approved in 2015 in the document of the European Neighborhood Policy and will offer an updated basis for political dialogue and mutually beneficial cooperation between the EU and Azerbaijan.
The negotiations on the new document began in early 2017.
Leman Mammadova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @leman_888
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