By Nigar Orujova
Azerbaijan has completed preparations for signing visa facilitation and readmission agreements with Switzerland and Norway, Azerbaijan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mahmud Mammadguliyev said.
“All intrastate procedures have already been completed and we are going to sign the documents soon,” he said last week.
Under the agreements, the facilitated visa regime with Switzerland and Norway will correspond to the terms of the agreement with the EU that entered into force this September.
Under the new rule, issuing a visa is carried out within 10 days with two days more or less in case of emergency. Meanwhile, the cost of the application will decrease to 35 euro for Azerbaijani citizens, and the list of required documents will be reduced for certain categories of the population.
Additionally, these agreements will contribute to the development of relations between the citizens of EU and Azerbaijan. It will cover an extensive list of persons. First of all, they are the citizens traveling abroad for education and business.
However, the new agreements don't cover such EU countries as Denmark, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as well as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, which joined the Schengen area.
“Currently, we are not negotiating with other countries, except Norway and Switzerland, which haven’t joined this agreement. In the case of necessity, we will sign separate agreements with these countries on visa facilitation and readmission,” the deputy minister said.
To date, the EU has signed visa facilitation and readmission agreements with 12 countries, namely, Azerbaijan, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Ukraine, Georgia, Cabo Verde and Armenia. All the agreements, excluding the agreement with Cabo Verde, have already entered into force.
Azerbaijan-EU association agreement
Azerbaijan has also explained reasons for not signing association agreement with the EU.
Azerbaijan has good relations with each European country separately, and the cooperation with the EU is normal as well, the Deputy Head of the Azerbaijani Presidential Administration, Chief of the Administration’s Foreign Relations Department, Novruz Mammadov said at a briefing on November 15.
“However, we told the EU that some provisions in the association agreement proposed by them don’t suit us, and we want to fully maintain our independence and sovereignty,” Mammadov said. “We maintain the independence of our foreign policy because our foreign policy should serve the protection of all the interests of the state, the country, and the people.”
The top official underscored that Azerbaijan’s proposal to sign an agreement on strategic modernization partnership with the EU is not random.
“How is it possible that we can cooperate well with each EU country? We want to establish such excellent relations with the EU,” Mammadov said.
He went on to say Azerbaijan is already a special country in all senses, adding “let the cooperation be like this; an agreement on strategic modernization partnership needs to be signed.”
Mammadov said the EU initially reacted to the proposal somewhat differently, but they see that this can be the best option and choice.
He added that Azerbaijan’s authority and rating on international arena are a great success of the country.
“The main issue is to maintain stability and security, and ensure a strong development in Azerbaijan amid the conflict, in which the country is involved,” Mammadov stressed.