Resolution of Frozen Conflicts is Essential for S.Caucasus to Progress Javier Solana Comments During Interview
Trend's Interview with EU High Representative Javier Solana
Question: What importance does the European Union attach to the co-operation with the South Caucasus countries? What factors promote and broaden the co-operation and what factors impede it?
Answer: The fact of the three South Caucasus countries being neighbours of the EU, being included in the European Neighbourhood Policy, already signals the EU's desire for a special relationship with the region. Having an ENP Action Plan with the three countries will further deepen our relations by arriving at agreed reform priorities which the EU will support through partnerships for reform.
The importance the EU attaches to its relations with the South Caucasus is also reflected in the high number of recent visits by EU and European officials to the three countries. The EU Special Representative, in close coordination with the EU Heads of Mission in Baku, Tbilisi and Yerevan, is in constant contact with the authorities of the three countries in order to facilitate intensive and trustful communication between the three countries and the EU. In our contacts with all three governments in the South Caucasus we have stressed that resolving their frozen conflicts is essential for the region to progress. Regional stability is necessary for each of those countries to derive the full benefits from the ENP Action Plans.
Question: How do you estimate the relations between Azerbaijan and EU? What steps might the EU take after the adoption of the ENP Action Plan, which is expected during the session of the Council on cooperation in mid-November?
Answer: The EU considers Azerbaijan a very important partner on several accounts. The EU-Azerbaijan Action Plan builds on common values and principles - democracy, human rights, market economy, challenges such as terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, to contribute to conflict resolution and to abide by international law. We have, after its adoption, the very ambitious but demanding task of implementing of the Action Plan without delay. To this end priority actions for the next twelve months should be identified between Azerbaijan and the EU.
Question: How could the conflicts in the South Caucasus be resolved? Will the EU remain passive observer of Armenia's aggressive policy with respect to Azerbaijan, a country that becomes an important alternative source in providing the energy security of Europe?
Answer: You cannot say the EU remains passive. The EU has done a lot. The conflicts are at the root of many of the problems that the region is facing. I underline the importance of continued and sustained negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan with a view to reaching an agreement as soon as possible. The EU supports the mediation efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group. I hope that the meeting of both Foreign Ministers in Brussels on 14 November will help to make further progress.
Also regarding Georgian internal conflicts, the EU considers that peaceful resolution of these conflicts is of vital importance for the future of all region. Peter Semneby, the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus is assisting Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia to pursue further political and economic reforms and the sustainable development of the region, by contributing to the peaceful settlement of conflicts, and by supporting further cooperation between the States of the region.
Question: Energy sphere is considered as an important element of stability and integration, an essential part of foreign policy and European security policy. How will this factor promote the proximity between Azerbaijan and EU?
Answer: Energy security is becoming a political challenge for the entire world. It's not only important for consumers like the EU, but also for emerging producers that have to face important investments and competition constraints in order to secure their market's shares. Strong relations between producers, transit and consumers are the key answer. The EU has been cooperating with Azerbaijan since its independence. However, we believe it's time to enhance our cooperation at strategic level. The Memorandum of Understanding aimed at establishing a strategic energy partnership, reflects the growing importance of Azerbaijan as a key energy supplier to the EU as well as an important transit country for Caspian basin resources.
Question: What are views on the ways of resolution of the Iranian nuclear problem at present? Does the use of sanctions on this country remain actual?
Answer: The EU position, which is well-known to Iran, is that it wants to see a negotiated solution. The EU has repeatedly expressed its readiness to develop a long-term, durable relationship with Iran. However, despite calls by the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the UN Security Council, Iran has not agreed to suspend its uranium enrichment activities, which remains a precondition for re-entering the negotiations on the basis of the offer I presented to Iran in June, on behalf of the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany and with the support of the EU. This issue has been my top priority because it is crucial for international security. We negotiated for endless hours and my Iranian counterpart and I established common ground on a number of subjects. However, as no agreement was reached on the suspension of enrichment activities, work is now under way on a draft resolution in the UN Security Council. But the door to negotiations with Iran will be reopened if Iran indicates its readiness to cooperate and build confidence. I am certain that the dispute concerning Iran's nuclear programme can only be solved through negotiation. The framework for this exists and, indeed, the nuclear issue is just one element - albeit a key one - of a much broader relationship with Iran, which is a key partner in regional and world affairs.
Question: What is your position on a draft legislation to criminalize the denial of so called "Armenians genocide" of 1915, adopted by the French National Assembly in a first reading?
Answer: The legislation adopted at first reading by the French National Assembly is an internal French matter and therefore a separate issue from EU-Turkey relations.