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EU respects Azerbaijan's position

21 May 2015 17:22 (UTC+04:00)
EU respects Azerbaijan's position

By Nigar Orujova

The EU respects the position of Azerbaijan, RIA Novosti quoted German Chancellor Angela Merkel as saying.

The chancellor spoke before the Eastern Partnership summit in Riga, Latvia, that will gather 28 heads of the European states with their counterparts from six eastern countries on May 21-22.

“Azerbaijan is not looking for ways to join in the European Union and does not see a role for itself in the Eurasian Economic Union,” she said.

The EU respects the right of each member state of the Eastern Partnership program to seek its own way of development, by maintaining cooperation with the EU, Merkel stressed.

The Eastern Partnership program envisages the political association and economic integration of the EU with Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

The last three countries signed an agreement on associated partnership with the EU in 2014.

The format of the EU Eastern Partnership program is not a tool for EU expansion, Merkel said.

“We must not cause artificial expectations which we will fail to fulfill. We know about this. I try to convey this point of view to our Eastern partners," she noted.

The Eastern Partnership program is one of two directions of the EU Neighborhood Policy developed in 2004 to create a more solid relationship between the EU and neighboring countries.

The first summit of the Eastern Partnership was held in 2009 in Prague - Czech Republic, the second, in 2011 was held in Warsaw - Poland, and the third summit was held in November 2013 in Vilnius - Lithuania.

During its official part on May 22, the summit will discuss how to avoid a split between countries that signed an Association Agreement with the EU – Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine – countries that have opted for the Eurasian Economic Union lead by Russia – Armenia and Belarus – and Azerbaijan which chose to be non-aligned.

The summit will allow the sides to review developments since the Vilnius summit in November 2013 as well as discuss ways in which to strengthen bilateral, multilateral and sector-based cooperation.

The event will give participants a chance to highlight all conflicts among participating countries of the EU Eastern Partnership program. Conflicts are expected to be reflected in the final declaration of the summit.

The sides are expected to agree on further strengthening the business dimension of the Eastern Partnership, energy security, sustainability and competitiveness.

Baku in Riga

Azerbaijan is represented at the event by Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration, Novruz Mammadov and Foreign Minister, Elmar Mammadyarov.

Mammadyarov has already submitted a draft Strategic Partnership Agreement between Azerbaijan and the EU to European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy & Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn.

The minister said Azerbaijan maintains relations with the majority of EU member states, expressing confidence that the agreement will “open new opportunities for developing Azerbaijan-EU cooperation on a strategic front”.

He highlighted the state of the negotiations to find a peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and underlined that it is important that the EU take “a clear and unambiguous position on Azerbaijan`s fair stance”.

The sides also discussed a range of regional issues.

The minister also submitted the draft agreement to vice president of the European Commission Federica Mogherini.

Armenia occupied over 20 percent of Azerbaijan's internationally recognized territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions, after laying territorial claims against its South Caucasus neighbor. This led to a brutal war in the early 1990s that resulted in the killing of over 20,000 Azerbaijanis. 4,866 people went missing and over 100,000 were wounded, while 50,000 were made disabled.

Long-standing efforts by U.S, Russian and French mediators have been largely fruitless so far. Armenia continues the occupation in defiance of four UN Security Council resolutions, all calling for an immediate and unconditional withdrawal.

In 2013, the European Parliament adopted a resolution which confirmed that Armenian troops have indeed occupied Azerbaijani territories. It urged all parties to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on the basis of the UN Security Council resolutions and the L'Aquila statement of the mediating countries' leaders in 2009.

According to changes to the resolution, the European Parliament recalled its position that the occupation of territory of an Eastern Partnership member by another member state violates the fundamental principles and objectives of the EU program.

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Nigar Orujova is AzerNews’s staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @o_nigar

Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz

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