Azerbaijan, Baku, July 17 / Trend I.Khalilova/
The European Union is very interested in cooperating with Azerbaijan and an association agreement is a framework for the EU-Azerbaijan cooperation in two dimensions - political dialogue and economic cooperation, EU South Caucasus Department Director John Kjaer said in Baku at a press conference after the first round of negotiations.
"Signing of association agreement is profitable for Azerbaijan, because it would encourage investment in economic development and efficient development of democracy," Kjaer said.
EU intends to conclude an agreement with each of the South Caucasus countries in particular, and its content will depend on the depth of cooperation with EU. In addition, it is planned to sign a separate agreement on simplification of visa regime with EU countries, Kjaer said.
Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister Mahmud Mammadguliyev said an association agreement covers four areas - political dialogue, including issues of security, justice and human rights, economic, social and humanitarian issues, and trade.
"The last direction will create an opportunity for the export of Azerbaijani goods to EU countries in the future. We already enjoy the benefits of duty-free exports of several thousand kinds of products to EU countries, but unfortunately, this issue of quality of goods remains a major challenge," Mammadguliyev said.
He said EU is keen to Azerbaijan's accession to the World Trade Organization. "Therefore, we will settle these questions [regarding the trade regime] on a bilateral level," Mammadguliyev said.
Two more meetings - in October in Brussels and in December in Baku are expected to be held in the framework of negotiations on the association agreement in 2010.
Baku launched negotiations with the EU on the signing of an association agreement today. The document is a continuation of the cooperation agreement signed in 1995. The Eastern Partnership Program was officially launched at an EU summit in Prague.
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