Azerbaijan, Baku / corr. Trend A.Gasimova/ Exclusive interview of Trend with the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union, Dr. Javier Solana
Question: What is your assessment of the results of the parliamentary elections in Turkey? How could these elections and the decisive victory by Rejeb Tayyip Erdogan, the leader of the party, contribute to the relations between Turkey and the European Union?
Answer: The AK Party has achieved a remarkable electoral victory. The results of this crucial election are a resounding vote of confidence in the path of political and economic reform and ever-closer relations with the European Union that the government has followed. There are many areas in which Turkey and the European Union will have to work closely together over the coming months and years. Making sustained progress in Turkey's accession negotiations is central to this challenging agenda. I welcome the stated determination of Prime Minister Erdogan to achieve Turkey's European Union goals, including the reforms needed to make that happen. Turkey and the European Union should continue their close cooperation to promote peace and security around the world, from the wider Middle East, to the Balkans, the southern Caucasus, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Question: The Kosovo problem is still a focus of the world community. In your opinion how would it be possible to resolve this situation?
Answer: First, let me say that it is regrettable that an agreement could not be reached within the United Nations Security Council. I think that the best way forward now is to give another chance for negotiations. This is also what EU ministers agreed in their meeting on 23 July. But I want to be clear on the fact that these negotiations should not be open-ended. They should be time limited for more or less 120 days. I would therefore appeal to Belgrade and Pristina to engage actively and constructively in this final round of negotiations. The EU wants to move this process forward and find a lasting solution to the Kosovo status. We are determined to remain united on this issue in defence of European interests, notably the stability and prosperity and European future of the Balkans.
Question: Could granting Kosovo independence become a precedent for separatist regimes in different countries, including Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan? How could it be prevented?
Answer: The Kosovo issue is a special case that can not be compared to any other region. There is the historical context of Yugoslavia's violent and non-consensual break-up, as well as the massive violence and repression that took place in Kosovo in the period up to and including 1999. There is also the unique situation of the extended period of international administration under UN resolution 1244, where Kosovo has basically been run by UNMIK since 1999. These specifics have been acknowledged by the Contact Group, which also includes Russia.
Question: The EU representative in Azerbaijan has recently stated his intention of simplifying the visa regime throughout the South Caucasus countries, which are members of the European Neighbourhood Policy. What are your plans in this respect, or other plans to further cooperation between the EU member-countries and the region?
Answer: The European Neighbourhood Policy of the European Union sets ambitious objectives based on mutual commitments of the EU and its Member States and the countries of South Caucasus to common values, including support for effective implementation of political, economic and institutional reforms. The EU/Azerbaijan Action Plan aims, among other issues, to establish a dialogue on matters related to the movement of people including on readmission and on visa issues. Progress on all these issues is underway.