Azerbaijan, Baku, 1 February / corr Trend K.Ramazanova / Trend's exclusive interview with Alan Waddams, the European Commission (EC) Special Representative in Azerbaijan
Question: A year ago the EU and Azerbaijan signed an Action Plan within the framework of European Neighborhood Policy. In the near future the European Union (EU) intends to publicize its first report on Azerbaijan's fulfillment of its obligations. What issues will be included in the document?
Answer: Regular monitoring into the Action plan takes place every 12 months. The first report on the fulfillment of Azerbaijan's obligations will be issued in April. The action plan covers 5 years and envisages 10 priority spheres to be included in the report. However, it is not an exam and we do not instruct anyone; it is an occasion to see where we are. The Action Plan also determines the fields of our cooperation.
Question: To what does it seem real to speak about simplification of a visa regime between the EU and Azerbaijan? Could it raise an issue of migration which Europe regards as a problem for itself?
Answer: It refers not only to Azerbaijan, but this issue exists with other countries also. We recognize problems related to migration to Europe and try to take practical steps. As the issue is not a simple one, we should look at a whole series of related issues, such as border control, illegal migration, trafficking and readmission agreement. We will have to work closely together to establish satisfactory arrangements.
Question: In accordance with the agreement signed before, the EU will allocate $92mln to Azerbaijan for a subsequent 3 years. How do you plan to spend these funds?
Answer: We have two programmes; one is a budget support, aimed at development and modernization of particular sectors. This absorbs about 70 % of the funds available. The other programme we call "Twinning", which allows for institutions in EU member States to join up with similar institutions in Azerbaijan, to promote certain activities, in particular towards harmonization of legislation or activities. One of the first twinning projects will be in the energy sector. These two programmes are established on an annual basis.
Question: Turkey, an only Muslim country which is in talks with the EU for its admission, is still unable to become a full member of the EU. Could Azerbaijan also face similar obstacles in its intentions due to the religious factor?
Answer: Azerbaijan's admission to the EUis not on the agenda at the stage. As to Islam we live in a world which is full of stress. People are inclined to exaggerate issues concerning fundamentalism and extremism due to political pressures. These problems exist everywhere. Radicalism remains an issue and can emerge in societies with socio-economic difficulties. I think the situation and society in Azerbaijan are stable, and clearly balanced development is necessary in the country.
Question: When is it planned to hold the next round of talks between Azerbaijan and EU?
Answer: Talks with the Sub Committee on Trade and Investments will be held atthe end of February. A meeting of the Sub Committee on Energy, Transport and Environment will be held in April. Azerbaijan-EU Cooperation Committee is scheduled for June-July. A meeting of the Council for Cooperation will be held in November.