Baku, Azerbaijan, Feb. 12
By Anakhanum Khidayatova - Trend:
Europe is open to cooperation with Azerbaijan and is ready to strengthen bilateral ties with the country, MEP from Latvia Iveta Grigule told Trend.
Grigule, who visited Azerbaijan Feb. 11, said that she held negotiations in the parliament and the foreign ministry of the country.
She said that one of the main topics of the talks was the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
The two countries signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, Russia, France and the US are currently holding peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented the UN Security Council's four resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts.
"We discussed the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict," said the MEP. "Latvia is always ready to support Azerbaijan in this issue, as well as talk about this problem of the country in Brussels."
Grigule went on to add that during her visit, she also raised the issue of Azerbaijan's return to Euronest Parliamentary Assembly.
"The Euronest Parliamentary Assembly is discussing cooperation with Azerbaijan, and it means that Azerbaijan should participate in these discussions, and not remain on the sidelines," she said, adding that it is necessary to talk about the problem the country has, and sooner or later, Azerbaijan's voice will be heard.
The MEP also touched upon anti-Azerbaijani resolution adopted by the European Parliament last year, calling it a mistake.
"Azerbaijan and the EU should continue to work, despite such incidents," said Grigule. "Latvia is a small country, too, and we are sometimes also criticized by the EU. We understand how it hurts, because we are also doing our best, as well as Azerbaijan is."
Regarding the forthcoming visit of the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini to Azerbaijan, she noted that a number of bilateral documents, which should contribute to strengthening of relationship of the sides, will be discussed during the visit.
Grigule also called the Eastern Partnership program important but underdeveloped, urging the parties to work harder within the framework of the program.
The Eastern Partnership program envisages political association and economic integration of EU with Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. It does not envisage the EU membership.
In turn, Latvian Ambassador to Azerbaijan Yuris Maklakovs told Trend that the Latvian Embassy will continue to contribute to strengthening of relations not only between Azerbaijan and Latvia, but also between Azerbaijan and the EU.
"Azerbaijan and Latvia have great prospects for cooperation, especially in light of the economic partnership, and we will continue to work intensively to achieve even greater results," said the diplomat.
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