BAKU, Azerbaijan, October 1
By Nargiz Sadikhova - Trend:
Azerbaijan-EU partnership further strengthened during the COVID crisis, Ana Pisonero, Spokesperson for the European Commission told Trend.
Pisonero noted that the EU remains a key partner for Azerbaijan; not just in the area of trade but in a wide range of areas: from energy to culture and from education to economic diversification and agriculture.
"This strong and increasingly comprehensive partnership has further strengthened during the COVID crisis. Indeed, the EU has shown strong solidarity with its Eastern partners in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, both through the provision of immediate health support and support for longer term socio-economic recovery. As regards the latter, the EU has been putting in place a sizeable bilateral package to focus on longer term needs to mitigate the economic and social impact of the pandemic and continue working together on economic reforms and diversification," she said.
Regarding health, Pisonero noted, the EU has been determined 'to support our Eastern neighbours to fight the pandemic and speed up vaccination'.
"Last year the EU under the Team Europe umbrella supported over 60 health facilities across the country with 10,000 face shields, 10,000 protective goggles, 140,000 respirators, 8,000 isolation gowns, and 987,000 examination gloves, complemented by emergency medical teams coming from different EU member states. This year the EU has been supporting Azerbaijan in strengthening its vaccination preparedness and vaccine deployment in Azerbaijan alongside all other Eastern Partnership countries through a dedicated 40 million Euro program with the WHO," Pisonero added.
In her words, this has been complemented with vaccine support through COVAX, for which Team Europe with close to 3 billion EURO for the COVAX facility, is one of the lead contributors.
"In addition, the EU has just launched a new 35 million EURO vaccine sharing support program for the Eastern Partnership, for which we hope that Azerbaijan will be able to benefit soon," she said.
Pisonero emphasized that the COVID-19 pandemic has also boosted digitalization of the Azerbaijan-EU cooperation which should be considered a positive outcome of this crisis.
"Also our policy dialogue remained active at the highest level. Is July, Commissioner Várhelyi held a successful mission to Azerbaijan. The focus of his mission was on presenting and kick-starting the implementation of the Economic and Investment Plan for the Eastern Partnership region including Azerbaijan published on 2 July. In the meetings, Commissioner Várhelyi underlined that the Plan is a blueprint for the post-COVID-19 crisis recovery and for economic development of the region, which we now need to turn from an opportunity to reality," she said.