Azerbaijan, Baku, August 2 /Trend, E.Ostapenko/
Although bilateral agreements in the sphere of economy contribute to establishing peace and stability, the Association Agreement between EU and South Caucasus countries does not envisage intervention in the conflict settlement processes, said the head of EU mission to Armenia
Raul de Lyutsenberger.
"We certainly want to play a more active role in resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, because we want this issue to be resolved peacefully. Nevertheless, the association agreement makes no attempt to interfere in the process," de Lyutsenberger said in an interview with ArmInfo.
The first round of negotiations on the EU Association Agreement with the three South Caucasus countries - Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia - took place in mid July. Agreement is based on joint commitments to develop common values and covers a wide range of spheres including political dialogue, justice, freedom and security, as well as issues of trade and cooperation.
The EU is not directly involved in the peace talks on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement. The EU supports the efforts of OSCE Minsk Group - officially recognized international format for negotiations. Within the Minsk Group, the peace talks between Azerbaijan and Armenia have been continuing since May 1994 - the moment when the parties reached a cease-fire agreement.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan since 1992, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts..
The Association Agreement was signed with all three South Caucasus countries simultaneously, and this is important, says de Lyutsenberger. The EU aims to complete the process simultaneously with all three countries, he said.
"But, ultimately, this will depend on the countries, he said. - Practically the speed of the negotiation process and their scope depend on the preparedness of the partner countries to implement the provisions stipulated in the agreement."
The Association Agreement does not envisage accession of Armenia [or any other South Caucasus countries] to the EU, said de Lyutsenberger. The task of the agreement is to intensify relations and open the domestic market of Armenia.
"Further integration with Armenia is work that could theoretically contribute to the process of accession to the EU. At the same time, this is not a task of the agreement, the ambassador said. - In accordance with article 42 of the EC Agreement, Armenia joined many international conventions, and as a member of the Council of Europe, it can apply for membership to the EU. Association Agreement does not put obstacles on this path, but it is not implied for this purpose."
An important part of the Association Agreement is to facilitate the visa regime between the EU and South Caucasus countries.
"We aspire to such a policy of visa regime, which will cover a broad category of citizens of Armenia. The difficulty may arise in some details of the legislative and administrative provisions that exist in Armenia, and we need to consider them during negotiations with the authorities," said de Lyutsenberger.
Both sides will decide for which particular categories of citizens the facilitated visa regime will act. It could be ordinary citizens as well. The question is open for dialogue, he said.