Plenary session on Azerbaijan-EU association agreement scheduled for autumn

Azerbaijan, Baku, July 1 / Trend I.Khalilova /

The working group created under the negotiations on a association agreement between the Azerbaijani government and the European Commission will hold a plenary session in September, Deputy Foreign Minister Mahmud Mammadguliyev told Trend.

"Now, the sides mull aspects of the negotiation process through video conferencing. However, some issues need to be addressed during the plenary session to achieve some progress," he said.
Mammadguliyev said it is very important for Azerbaijan to prepare a qualitative document that will cover all aspects of the country's activities with the EU for longer term cooperation. Therefore, he faced difficulty to name possible date of signing the association agreement.
Prior to the enactment of a new agreement, Azerbaijan will continue cooperation with the EU on the basis of an agreement on partnership and cooperation signed in 1996 and came into force in 1999.
The first round of negotiations on the associative membership was held July 16, 2010 in Baku.
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.
"I do not think that preparations for the signing of the agreement on simplification of visa regime will be completed by late 2011, as receiving a mandate for negotiations will be possible after the transition of the EU Presidency to Poland scheduled for July 1, 2011," Mammadguliyev said.

In addition, he said, the negotiations on this agreement should go hand in hand with readmission.
The 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. Azerbaijan already enjoys 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.
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 on Sep.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.

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