EU to support Azerbaijan's joining WTO (UPDATE)

Baku, Azerbaijan, Apr. 1

By Anakhanum Khidayatova - Trend:

The EU is the biggest trading partner and investor in Azerbaijan, and it will support the process of the country's joining the World Trade Organization (WTO), the head of the EU Delegation to Azerbaijan Malena Mard said during the press conference on the report of the EU's progress in its relations with the countries of the Eastern Partnership.

"Cooperation with Azerbaijan is very important for the EU, we intend to develop these relations in the future as well," said Mard.

She said that over the past 10 years, the EU has been developing relations with Azerbaijan within the framework of the Eastern Partnership program, which is the basis for the development of cooperation with partner countries of the European Union.

The EU High Representative Federica Mogherini and European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn began consultations on the next steps within the framework of the ENP, the diplomat said.

"We want to change the policy of work with neighbors and began extensive consultations to review this policy," said Mard. "I hope that the new program of the EU's neighborhood will be ready by the fall."

The first results of operation of the agreement on simplification of visa regime between the EU and Azerbaijan, which entered into force, are already noticeable, according to the head of the mission.

"Statistics shows that last year we issued 75,000 visas to citizens of Azerbaijan," she said.

The EU will continue to support the development process of civil society, according to Mard.

"Our cooperation with Azerbaijan continues in all areas," she said. "We hope that the country will remain a key partner of the EU."

"The EU allocated 94 million euros for the development of relations with Azerbaijan in 2014-2017," the diplomat said. "The EU also allocated 20 million euros to support the reforms in the field of education in the country."

Mard said that the bilateral relations between the EU and Azerbaijan will be discussed as part of European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn's visit to Azerbaijan on April 7-8.

"Proceeding from a report on the EU progress in its relations with the Eastern Partnership member-states, one can make a conclusion that the energy relations between Azerbaijan and the EU are at a good level," she said.

"The sides perfectly cooperate as part of implementing the Southern Gas Corridor project," she said.

A round of bilateral negotiations on Azerbaijan's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) was held in Geneva on March 3-7.

Azerbaijan started negotiations with the WTO member countries in 2004. Currently, the country is negotiating with 18 countries.

Negotiations are now completed, and the protocols signed with Turkey, the Sultanate of Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan. The country is at the stage of signing the protocol with China and Moldova.

The Southern Gas Corridor is one of the priority energy projects for the EU. The project is aimed at diversification of routes and sources of energy supply and thereby increase EU's energy security. It envisages the delivery of gas from Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz gas and condensate field to Europe.

Edited by CN

follow the author on Twitter: @Anahanum

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