Azerbaijan, EU fix date of second round of talks
Azerbaijan, Baku, August 9 / Trend I. Khalilova /
The Azerbaijani government and the European Commission held the second round of talks on an association agreement on the basis of mandate provided by the EU Council May 10 to negotiate with the three South Caucasus countries in Brussels October 4-5, Deputy Foreign Minister Mahmud Mammadguliyev said.
"The EU presented a list of questions to Azerbaijan consisting of 11 sections. Most of them are economic," Mammadguliyev said.
The first round of negotiations on the associative membership was held July 16, 2010 in Baku. The Association Agreement is a framework document for cooperation between Azerbaijan and the EU in two spheres - the political dialogue and economic cooperation.
The EU plans to conclude the agreement with each of South Caucasus countries. Its content will depend on the depth of cooperation with the EU. Furthermore, it is planned to sign a separate agreement on simplification of visa regime with EU countries.
The Association Agreement covers four areas - political dialogue, including security, justice, protection of human rights, economic, social, humanitarian issues, and trade.
"The last sphere will create an opportunity in future for the export of Azerbaijani goods to EU countries. We have already used the benefits of duty-free exports of several thousand kinds of products to the EU countries. But, unfortunately, the quality of goods remains the main problem," Mammadguliyev said.
He said that the EU stands for Azerbaijan's joining the World Trade Organization. "Therefore, we will normalize these questions [regarding the trade regime] at the bilateral level," deputy minister said.
Two more meetings - in October in Brussels and in December in Baku will be held within the negotiations on the Association Agreement in 2010.
The future association agreement will replace the agreement on partnership and cooperation between Azerbaijan and the EU, which was signed in 1995. It provides significant intensification of cooperation in priority areas.
The foreign ministers of the three South Caucasus countries participated in the annual session of the European Council for Cooperation with South Caucasus countries in Brussels September 30, 2009. A decision was made about the association membership of the Caucasus countries into the EU. It is the most effective stimulus to resolve conflicts and holds internal reforms in these countries.