Azerbaijan , Baku, May 24 / Trend E. Ostapenko /
At the European Union's Foreign Affairs Council on 23 May in Brussels, during the discussions about the situation in the states of the South Caucasus and the course of negotiations on association agreements with Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Audronius Ažubalis spoke up for a consistent strengthening of the EU's relations with these countries , the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry reported .
"It is necessary to include our South Caucasian neighbours into the activities of the EU's Eastern Neighbourhood Initiative, to start negotiations with Armenia and Azerbaijan regarding the visa regime facilitation and readmission agreements", Ažubalis said.
T he first round of talks on an association agreement between the EU and three South Caucasus countries - Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia was held in mid. July .
The a greement s are based on joint commitment s to develop common values . They cover a wide range of areas including a political dialogue, justice, freedom and security, as well as the trade and cooperation.
In the words of Minister A.Ažubalis, it should also be taken into account that Georgia is implementing the visa facilitation and readmission agreements which came into force on1 March.
Head of Lithuania's diplomacy noted that the EU and Georgia had to make efforts in order to be able to start by the end of 2011 the negotiations regarding the conclusion of a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement.
Based on this, a dialogue should be started with Georgia thus defining the conditions for a visa free regime as a long-term objective, the Minister said.
Minister A.Ažubalis informed the foreign ministers of other EU member states about the results of his visits to the states of the South Caucasus in the capacity of the Chairman-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
"The representations of the EU and its member states have to cooperate more closely in the capitals of third countries, to exchange information and analysis. Better coordination of the common EU's foreign policy actions would show the EU's unity to the world", Minister A.Ažubalis said.
According to him, a European External Action Service that is strong and closely cooperates with the diplomatic services of the member states would be particularly beneficial to Lithuania as it has limited capacity to secure diplomatic representation in the world.
EU foreign ministers and the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton discussed the activities of the European External Action Service that started functioning on 1 January 2011.
The i ncidents occur at the contact line periodically. The r ecent incidents occurred during last weekend . T wo Azerbaijani soldiers were killed . The incident occurred as a result of violating the ceasefire regime by the Armenian armed forces.
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 7 surrounding districts.
Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group - Russia, France, and the U.S. - are currently holding the peace negotiations.
Armenia has not yet implemented the U.N. Security Council's four resolutions on the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh region and the occupied territories.