Participation in Eastern Partnership Will not be of Quick Benefit to Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan, Baku, 30 November/ Trend , corr. E.Ostapenko/ Participation in the program of the European Union 'Eastern Partnership' does not assume in the immediate future opening of free trading zone and introduction of visa-free regime with Azerbaijan, although the cooperation can positively be reflected in the development of the country
"It is impossible to give a precise time line for this: negotiations are negotiations," Antonio Missiroli, one of the leading political analysts of the European Union, said to Trend .
The project jointly by Poland and Sweden about the policy of Eastern partnership will be discussed at the conference of European organizations in Brussels on 3 December. At this meeting the European Union will advance several proposals on the cooperation, the spokesperson of European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner, said to Trend .
Poland and Sweden presented proposals on creation of a general forum for eastern neighbors - 'Eastern partnership' to the EU foreign ministers on 26 May. The program will unite twenty seven states of the European Union including Ukraine, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia.
Opening of the free trading zone and introduction of visa free regime with Azerbaijan depends on the course of changes within the country.
Visa facilitation will come if it is matched by better local controls, said Missiroli, European Policy Centre, Director of Studies.
According to Missiroli, it is not a unilateral concession by the EU and there are many technical aspects to be solved first. The same applies to trade.
Azerbaijan is not currently being proposed as country for visa-free regime, Amanda Akcakoca, the European Neighbourhood Policy expert believes.
"Now the focus in on Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia," Akcakoca said to Trend via e-mail. However, Akcakoca did not exclude to possibility of opening of visa free regime and free trading with Azerbaijan in the longer term.
European and Azerbaijani experts agree in opinion that the step in the direction of Azerbaijani integration to EU, which is showed by the Eastern partnership, can benefit to Azerbaijan.
There could be visa facilitation schemes and exchange programs, like trade liberalisation and possibly financing of infrastructure, Missiroli considers.
For Azerbaijan, financing of infrastructure in particular could prove attractive and will much depend on the prospects for the Nabucco project. The EU will also try to be more active on conflict resolution, as it has in Georgia, Missiroli said.
If the issue is partnership, then the benefits must always be mutual, Rasim Musabayov, the Azerbaijani political scientist, considers.
The partnership with EU will promote more technical assistance by the EU, Musabayov believes.
"The same applies to the introduction of up-to-date marketing and management that can affect competitiveness on Azerbaijan's economy fruitfully, Musabayov told Trend via a telephone.
Despite of benefits, there is vagueness related to the domestic problems in Azerbaijan.
"As relations with the EU and Azerbaijan improve, there will be greater pressure for domestic political changes from Brussels," David Galbreath, the European Neighbourhood Policy expert, said to Trend via e-mail.
However, Akcakoc is not sure of what the EU expects from Azerbaijan in terms of improved human rights, democracy, rule of law, treatment of minorities, etc and these are all areas which need considerable improvement in the country.
V.Zjavoronkova and E. Tariverdiyeva contributed in the article.
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