For Simplification of a Visa Regime With EU, Azerbaijan Needs to Create a "Package" of Suggestions – Supreme Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner

For Simplification of a Visa Regime With EU, Azerbaijan Needs to Create a "Package" of Suggestions – Supreme Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner

Azerbaijan, Baku, 02 february / Trend , corr.K. Ramazanova, E.Quseynli/ EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner gives exclusive interview to Trend .

- Which issues will be in the focus of interest during the visit of the third February to the South Caucasus countries? Which special issues you may note concerning Azerbaijan?

We will have a broad discussion on issues of common interest, such as the implementation of the ENP Action Plan, human rights and elections, frozen conflicts in the region, regional cooperation and energy.

-  EU intends to disclose its first report concerning fulfilment of obligations by Azerbaijan on the Plan of actins within the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy program. How do you value the cooperation for the period and progress of principles included into the program?

The Commission is currently drafting the 2007 Progress Reports for all twelve partner countries having an ENP Action Plan. The Reports will be published in the next weeks and will give a brief but accurate overview of what has been done in the last months by Azerbaijan.

- What role will play opening of the European Union office in Baku?

The presence of a Commission Delegation in Baku will be very important because we will have the possibility to have a permanent dialogue with Azerbaijani authorities, media, associations and other diplomatic representations in Baku as well as monitoring financial and economic cooperation.

- Does the European Union intend to consider the issue on simplification of the visa regime with Azerbaijan? If yes, which steps the both sides should take in order to implement this idea?

We have already discussed this issue several times and the Commission fully understands the desire of our Azerbaijani friends and colleagues to have their visa obligations facilitated. However, we have always stressed that such a step could be taken only in the context of a wider "package", also including other measures such as a readmission agreement, improvement of travel documents and a more secure and efficient border management.

- What kind of nuances does the project of democratic reforms made by EU to Azerbaijan propose?  Was the project agreed with Azerbaijan?

Both the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, in force since 1999 and the ENP Action Plan adopted last year contain important references to a better protection of human rights, improving the situation of media and reforming the electoral legislation. This would bring in line Azerbaijan's commitments taken with the EU, the Council of Europe and the OSCE. In all these cases, Azerbaijan subscribed to the principles and the proposed reforms and stated its intention to honour these commitments not only in principle, but also in practice.

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