Azerbaijan to begin negotiations with EU on association agreement
Azerbaijan, Baku, July 15 /Trend, I.Khalilova/
On July 16, Baku will host the first stage of negotiations between the Government of Azerbaijan and the European Commission to conclude the Association Agreement on the basis of the mandate provided by the EU Council on May 10 to negotiate with the three countries of South Caucasus, Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister Mahmud Mammadguliyev said on July 15.
The first plenary session of negotiations over the Georgia-EU Association Agreement is held in Batumi July 15.
Director of the EU Department for South Caucasus countries John Kjaer will head the negotiations from the European side and Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister Mahmud Mammadguliyev from the Azerbaijani side.
So far, Azerbaijan has cooperated with the EU on the basis of a partnership agreement. The signing of an association agreement would facilitate free trade and the free movement of citizens. The forthcoming Association Agreement between Azerbaijan and the European Union will replace the Partnership and Cooperation agreement between Azerbaijan and the European Union and provides for the strengthening of relations between Azerbaijan and the European Union in priority fields.
Signing of such an agreement with Europe will become for Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia means of establishing free trade and movement of people.
"It will rise to a new level the cooperation with EU countries, will allow Azerbaijan to create a single free trade zone with European countries," Mammadguliyev said earlier.
According to the requirements of the European Union, the pretender country must be a member of the WTO for participation in the zone. Azerbaijan still has observer status in the organization, he said.
Foreign ministers of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia participated in the annual session of the European Council for Cooperation with South Caucasus countries in Brussels Sept.30, 2009. A decision was made about a prospect of the association membership of the Caucasus countries into the EU. It is the most effective stimulus for conflict resolution and internal reforms in these countries.