Baku, Azerbaijan, March 27
By Sabina Ahmadova - Trend:
European Commission has published progress report on Azerbaijan within the frameworks of the 'Neighbourhood Package'.
"The report on Azerbaijan underlines key/main developments and reform efforts in 2013 and makes recommendations for the year to come," according to the official website of European Union.
European Commission said 2013 was a decisive year in the EU-Azerbaijani bilateral relations.
"Azerbaijan's participation in the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius, which coincided with the signing of the Visa Facilitation Agreement and the Mobility Partnership, underlined the potential to further develop EU/Azerbaijani relations. Negotiations continued on the Association Agreement and on a Strategic Modernization Partnership," according to the report. "On energy issues, the cooperation continued. The Strategic Energy Partnership with Azerbaijan was strengthened; steps were taken in view of the construction of the Southern Gas Corridor which should reinforce the European energy security."
The report also touched upon the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. It was noted that the stalemate in the Minsk Process aiming at settling the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict continued for most of 2013.
"However, the presidents of the two countries reconvened in November 2013 for the first time since January 2012 in a summit in Vienna, mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, at which they agreed to advance negotiations towards a peaceful settlement and to meet again in the months ahead," according to the report.
It was also noted in the report that an upsurge of violence along the line of contact was witnessed in early 2014 and that the EU continued to give its full support to the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs in their work to facilitate a lasting settlement.
Azerbaijan took measures to fight corruption, following recommendations from the 2012 ENP Action Plan, according to the report.
The European Commission also recommended Azerbaijan to:
- ensure effective and comprehensive implementation of the January 2013 resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on the honouring of obligations and commitments by Azerbaijan;
- continue implementation of the human rights action plan adopted in December 2011;
- continue the reform of the judiciary and adopt the Judiciary Reform Program 2014-2020;
- continue the policy of economic diversification and development of the regions;
- implement the actions scheduled for 2013-2014 under the Memorandum of Understanding in the field of energy;
- step up efforts towards agreement on the Madrid Principles, as a basis for peace, in accordance with the commitments undertaken by the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia within the Minsk Group; refrain from actions and statements that could heighten tension and undermine the peace process;
- promote an environment conducive to progress in the conflict settlement, encourage and support related peace-building activities.