By Rasana Gasimova
Azerbaijan’s Deputy Prime Minister, Chairman of the National Coordination Council for Sustainable Development Ali Ahmadov has reiterated his country’s willingness to cooperate with the EU.
Ahmadov noted that Azerbaijan is committed to the partnership with EU. He also expressed confidence that the work on a cooperation agreement between Azerbaijan and the EU continues will be completed in the near future, local media reported. He added that after signing this agreement, broader cooperation will be carried out between the parties.
He made the remarks in an address to the conference on the results of the EU technical assistance project, “Support to the State Statistical Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan (SSC) to reach European Standards in National Accounts, on observed economy, business statistics and producer price index.”
Head of the EU Delegation to Azerbaijan Kestutis Jankauskas also spoke at the event, saying that negotiations on signing a new partnership agreement between the EU and Azerbaijan are at the final stage.
The relations between Azerbaijan and the EU will move to a new stage after the conclusion of this agreement, Jankauskas said.
Noting that Azerbaijan's economy is developing, the head of the EU Delegation to Azerbaijan added that the EU is Azerbaijan’s biggest trading partner.
“EU member states are the countries that invest most of all in Azerbaijan. The EU also supports the implementation of international transport projects passing through the territory of Azerbaijan.”
On the sidelines of the event, Jankauskas said that another stage of negotiations will be held soon to sign the agreement between Azerbaijan and EU.
He stressed that both parties will make every effort to sign a cooperation agreement in a short period of time.
Jankauskas emphasized that a number of issues that have not yet been agreed upon regarding cooperation between the EU and Azerbaijan are related to the trade and economy, reminding that the second round of the EU-Azerbaijan Security Dialogue was held in Baku in December 2019.
"The EU officials participated in the dialogue. A number of meetings were held with Azerbaijani officials. The format of further negotiations between Azerbaijan and the EU was discussed during these meetings,” he said.
The EU holds the main place in the foreign trade turnover of Azerbaijan. There are more than 1,500 European companies in Azerbaijan. Over the past six years, European countries have invested about $16 billion in Azerbaijan's economy.
Currently, bilateral relations between the EU and Azerbaijan are based on the EU-Azerbaijan Partnership and Cooperation Agreement signed in 1996 (entered into force in 1999), 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.
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 for 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 first meeting to discuss the document took place on April 25, 2017.
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