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Ambassador Michal Labenda: It is impossible to imagine better advocate for Azerbaijan, generally for South Caucasus than Poland (PHOTO)

Politics Materials 30 June 2011 10:30 (UTC +04:00)
EU presidency is very important for Poland because Warsaw gains an opportunity to govern majority of affairs at the EU for six months, more, of course, on the inner field, Polish Ambassador to Azerbaijan Michal Labenda said in an interview with Trend on the eve of his country's EU presidency from July 1.
Ambassador Michal Labenda: It is impossible to imagine better advocate for Azerbaijan, generally for South Caucasus than Poland (PHOTO)

Azerbaijan , Baku, June 30 /Trend, E.Tariverdiyeva/

EU presidency is very important for Poland because Warsaw gains an opportunity to govern majority of affairs at the EU for six months, more, of course, on the inner field, Polish Ambassador to Azerbaijan Michal Labenda said in an interview with Trend on the eve of his country's EU presidency from July 1.

"The EU is a very large structure. And along with all other commitments, Poland will chair ten different councils," said the Ambassador

Priorities for the Polish EU presidency

Poland has a lot of priorities for the presidency, which are equally important for Warsaw: one of the examples is the Competitiveness Council, he said.

"In addition to daily duties, we want to promote the development of e-commerce. Furthermore, during the presidency of Poland, we would like to finish work on the introduction of a single patent protection system. We must also focus on the action plan on customs for the Eastern Partnership countries. These are only three of the 16 priorities that Poland is considering only in one of the ten councils. Imagine how large and important work we have to do and if we cope with them, it will be a great achievement," said Labenda.

The EU is working on a system of trio of three countries chairing the EU for six months, which increases work prospects, he said.

"We actively cooperate with Ireland, Lithuania and Greece for the work and future missions. What happens during the next presidency and the foundation of which will be laid during the presidency of Poland (it is an indisputable priority for the EU) is the beginning of work on the budget plan for 2014-2020, since the EU works in six-months plans. The work will already begin on this plan during our presidency," said the Ambassador.

Given that a Pole is a commissioner on budgetary affairs and that in June the EU adopted a Europe-2020 strategy, in which the economic component is important, it will be the central issue for several future presidencies, said Labenda.

The Ambassador said the goal of Europe 2020 package is to increase the economic goal of the EU and the competitiveness and internal consolidation, including the issues of social justice and unity of the European economic area. Despite that Poland is not included in the zone using the euro, the issue of strengthening the euro-zone and maintaining its competitiveness is one of the major tasks of Warsaw, as the EU presidency, said Labenda. As the EU is working on a long-term outlook, today work is already starting on the program to reduce exhaust emission in 2050 as compared to 2010.

In addition, the EU will have a short-term decision on a number of questions, including the issue of EU enlargement, he said.

"We expect that the process of adopting the treaty on Croatia's accession will begin during our EU presidency. The negotiation process will also continue with Iceland and surely, Poland will do everything to advance the negotiation process with Turkey as far as possible. The question of Turkey is very complicated, and Warsaw, being a supporter of Turkey's accession to the EU, will do its best to advance the process as far as possible," said Labenda.

Of course, the priorities of Poland will be the domestic needs of the EU, the Ambassador said.

"We plan to take the first draft of a comprehensive change in the law on fisheries. For Poland, which is a country with a fairly large sector of fisheries, it is very important, as is often the fishermen are protesting. For example, over the quotas of some species of fish in the Baltic sea, "- said the ambassador.

"We plan to adopt the first projects on complex changes to the law on fisheries. It is very important for Poland, which is a country with a fairly large sector of fisheries, since the fishermen are often protesting. For example, over the quotas on some breeds of fish in the Baltic Sea," said the Ambassador.

Eastern Partnership

Eastern Partnership assumes a great interest for the Polish presidency, the Ambassador said.

"It was a Polish initiative. However, we do not want the Eastern Partnership program to develop to the detriment of any other program or to the detriment of EU relations with other countries during the Polish EU presidency. We need an optimal balance between the southern and eastern directions of the EU external policy," said Labenda.

Eastern Partnership is the brainchild of Poland, he said. "A lot of work has been done to implement all aspects of the program and we are very pleased that we now have a common European program, and during our presidency, everything possible will be done to make this program moving in the right direction," he said.

A good opportunity to promote this initiative would be the summit of Eastern Partnership in late September, he said. Of course, the summit is an important political event that will enable to meet all leaders of the European Union and the Eastern Partnership countries, said the Ambassador.

Poland seeks to ensure the implementation of two initiatives together with the summit. One of them is the Business Forum, which will address not only big business, but also medium businesses to facilitate the cooperation of European businessmen with the entrepreneurs of the Eastern Partnership countries, he said.

"Facilitating the visa regime was initially set as one of the goals of the program in the long term outlook - by the abolition of visa regime between the EU and Eastern Partnership countries. Of course, it is impossible to come to it during one day, it will take some time. We hope that the negotiations on the recommendations of the European Commission on facilitating the visa regime with Azerbaijan will begin in September, that is, during the Polish presidency. We will help ensure that all these will be done within the legal order, and hope for success," he said.

It is impossible to imagine a better advocate for Azerbaijan and generally for the South Caucasus than Poland, said Labenda.

Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

"Although one of the EU countries - France - is the co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, we do not believe that it represents the European Union there. Initially, it represents only its state," said the Ambassador.

He said in its turn, the European Union does a lot to contribute to resolving this conflict. However, both Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents and leaders of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chair countries say that the Minsk Group is the only format for the talks on Nagorno-Karabakh, he said.

According to Labenda, no one has offered another format, so the leaders of both conflicting sides attend the meetings organized within this format.

"It is important now not to destroy those that have been achieved. The process of conflict resolution is a very fragile structure and the main thing now is not to become the "elephant in a china shop" which will destroy everything. All participants in the negotiations are already well familiar with all the details and intricacies of the settlement process, and the invited side will not lead to anything good," said the Ambassador.

He said no proposal has been received from the interested sides to join the talks, and unlikely the EU will intervene in this format.

On the other hand, the EU is doing much to present to the attention of European citizens about what happened and is happening in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, said Labenda.

"Already in September, a new EU special representative will be appointed and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will be one of the main issues of his mandate. And although the Eastern Partnership program is not designed for accession to the EU, we hope that improving the standards in all spheres of life in program participating countries, we promote a more peaceful atmosphere, since the countries with strong democratic foundations and a strong civil society will probably easily negotiate with each other," said the Ambassador.

Especially, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is not frozen, rather its solution has frozen and tensions remain, making the situation very dangerous, said the Ambassador.

"But, as the president said after the last summit, things are going in the direction of solving this problem, so we can hope for progress in this regard. And the EU will do its utmost to help every step towards a peaceful solution," said Labenda.

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