Azerbaijan and EU start negotiations on visa facilitation
Azerbaijan, Baku, March 1 /Trend E.Mehdiyev/
Azerbaijan and the EU begin negotiations on agreements on visa facilitation and readmission in Baku on Thursday.
Azeri chief negotiator deputy foreign minister Mahmud Mammadguliyev appreciated that the beginning of this process is an important step in cooperation with the EU.
The negotiations are aimed at simplifying the transit of Azerbaijan and EU citizens, the fight against illegal immigration and joint efforts to promote legal migration, Mr Mammadguliyev said.
"Azerbaijan is ready to revise and amend its legislation after the signing of the agreements on visa facilitation and readmission agreements and we need the help of the EU," he said.
The EU delegation at the negotiations is led by the deputy heads of departments on international and visa issues, Rob Rosenberg and Diederik Palmali.
We are talking about simplifying of the visa regime at the initial stage of the negotiations, the deputy head of the Department Diederik Palmali said during the negotiations, which began on Thursday.
Palmali noted that the sides will try to facilitate the visa regime applied to a larger population coverage.
Agreement on the simplification of visa entry for citizens of Azerbaijan provides for a reduction of the list of documents submitted along with the application for a visa, the ability to issue multiple-entry visas with longer period of validity thus reducing the cost of visas for particular categories and to establish time limits for processing an application.
The agreement on readmission will, in turn, develop a mechanism for repatriation of those residing in the EU and Azerbaijan without permission.
Relations between the EU and Azerbaijan are being carried out under the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement which was signed in 1996 and came into force in 1999. In 2009, the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the EU Commission issued a mandate to start negotiations on the conclusion of bilateral association agreements of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia with the EU. These agreements will be a new practical instrument to replace the bilateral action plans.
The Eastern Partnership is aimed at the political and economic rapprochement of six post-Soviet states - Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus and the EU. The programme does not provide opportunities for EU membership, but involves facilitating the visa regime, energy cooperation and the introduction of free trade zones.