EU welcomes Moscow and Helsinki declarations on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict – INTERVIEW with High Representative Javier Solana

Azerbaijan, Baku, Dec. 23 / Trend , E.Ostapenko/ Written interview with Javier Solana, EU High Representative for the CFSP, for Trend

Question: What do you think will become the essentials of a new partnership agreement between Russia and the European Union? What is the greatest concern of the EU about Russia?

Answer: There is a common understanding between the EU and Russia that it is in our mutual interest to see our relationship based on a new, legally binding and comprehensive agreement. The current Partnership and Cooperation Agreement was signed already in 1997 and does not reflect the full width of our co-operation today. Negotiations on the new agreement have been resumed after a reflection pause during the autumn. We expect the new agreement to cover our political dialogue, external security, freedom, security and justice, economic, trade and energy issues; and research, education and culture.

One of our main concerns at the moment is the continued tensions in Georgia. Despite determined EU mediation and a 200-strong EU monitoring mission, the situation in and around South Ossetia and Abkhazia remains unstable, and we are hope to see more progress in the Geneva talks when they resume next year. What happened in Georgia this year should convince all concerned to redouble the efforts to find a peaceful and sustainable solutions to the other "frozen conflicts".

Question: Taking in to account the recent statements by Armenia and Azerbaijan, the sides are "closer to resolving the conflict than ever". Do you share such optimistic views?

Answer: As I said, after the Georgia conflict in August it has become even more clear that a military solution to the conflict is not an option. In this spirit, we welcomed the Moscow declaration of 2 November and the declaration of Helsinki of 4 December, as they confirmed that all sides sign up to the need for a peaceful solution. We fully support the Minsk Group and we ready to help in any way we can, for instance through confidence-building measures and people-to-people contacts.

Question: International organisations, including the OSCE, call on countries in the region to promote regional co-operation, stressing that this would help in resolving conflicts. How do you view the prospects of co-operation in the region, taking into account the lack of any relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia, as well as Turkey and Armenia many years because of territorial claims?

Answer: The conflict in Georgia has demonstrated the vulnerability of the region as well as the complexity of the conflicts and the high risks related to them. Regional cooperation and constructive dialogue are hence more essential than ever for the region's stability, prosperity and progress. In this context, we welcomed the recent signs of rapprochement between Armenia and Turkey as a basis for the normalisation of bilateral relations. We strongly encourage both parties to continue this path and pursue constructive dialogue. Progress in resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will also facilitate the normalisation of relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia. There is now a momentum that should not be lost. It is in this spirit that we actively encourage any form of regional cooperation and constructive dialogue leading to stronger ties between the countries in the region as the best way to create prosperity and stability for all. Don't forget that the European Union is itself a very good example of regional co-operation and of how conflicts can be overcome.

Question: The Director General of IAEA Muhammad El-Baradei in an interview with the German newspaper Day Welt said that Iran wants to acquire technology to produce nuclear weapons. Do you think Iran wants to get the technology to develop nuclear weapons? Could the EU change its policy towards Iran in the future?

Answer: The latest IAEA report confirms that the facts on the ground remain of great concern. Unfortunately Iran has neither suspended nor frozen its enrichment-related activities, and still does not comply with the relevant UNSC Resolutions. Furthermore, Iran is still not disclosing all the necessary information to clarify the issues which have a possible military dimension.

The EU therefore continues to follow a dual-track approach with regard to Iran: increasing pressure including through UNSC sanctions measures on the one hand, and showing openness to negotiations on the other hand. These could start as soon as Iran creates the necessary environment.

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