By Rasana Gasimova
The trade turnover between Azerbaijan and the EU increased by 28 percent over the past ten years, the head of the EU Delegation to Azerbaijan, Ambassador Kestutis Jankauskas, said during the event dedicated to the results of Eastern Partnership program held at the embassy of Poland in Azerbaijan on December 23.
“The trade turnover between Azerbaijan and the EU increased by 28 percent over the past ten years. Within the framework of the Eastern Partnership, two agreements were signed between the EU and Azerbaijan - on readmission and visa consolidation. Thanks to these documents, from 2015 to 2018, 40 percent of visas issued to Azerbaijani citizens were multiple. In 2017-2018, 2,000 visas were issued free of charge,” he said.
Jankauskas spoke about the 10-year history of the Eastern Partnership, saying that the main objective of the program is a security strategy.
“The EU cannot develop if our neighbors have problems. The Eastern Partnership allowed the EU to focus on existing problems and participate in their resolution. Eastern Partnership countries occupy the 10th place in terms of trade with the EU countries,” he said.
Touching upon the future priorities of the Eastern Partnership, Jankauskas said that the next Eastern Partnership summit will be held in the middle of 2020.
“A special commission created after an event dedicated to the 10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership held in Brussels in May 2019 will study the proposals received regarding the future program of the Eastern Partnership until the next summit. There are more than 200 proposals. They came from the countries of the Eastern Partnership, non-governmental organizations, business associations, etc. At the next summit, a program for further development of the program will be adopted,” he noted.
Addressing the event, Charge d'Affaires of Poland in Azerbaijan Michal Grechylo recalled that Poland and Sweden had taken the initiative to create such a partnership.
“Putting forward the idea of partnership with our eastern neighbors - Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia, we wanted to create a special neighborhood policy. The main goal of the initiative was to create the necessary conditions to accelerate political and economic integration between the European Union and partner countries by promoting political and socio-economic reforms in the countries of the Eastern Partnership,” he noted.
Grechylo outlined Poland’s position regarding the priorities for further activities of the Eastern Partnership. He identified three priorities: Approximation of the national legislation of Eastern Partnership countries with EU Legislation, expansion of cooperation in all sectors and further deepening integration.
The Eastern Partnership is an initiative aimed at deepening and strengthening the EU's relations with six countries - Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine. In this framework, guiding the EU's relations with its neighbours is the EU’s Global Strategy and the revised European Neighbourhood Policy which call on the need to focus on increasing the stabilization and resilience of the EU's Eastern neighbours.
Within this framework, there is a joint commitment to deliver tangible results for citizens across the region. In support of a more results-oriented approach towards the Eastern Partnership, the European Commission and European External Action Service identified 20 key deliverables for 2020.
Azerbaijan is currently part of the European Neighborhood Policy, Eastern Partnership and the Council of Europe, and is a large recipient of aid and infrastructure investment from the EU.
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