EU keen to strengthen cooperation with Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan, Baku, Nov. 2 / Trend , S.Agayeva /
Azerbaijan should continue to liberalise its economy and form free trade relations for greater integration into the global economy, European Union Ambassador to Azerbaijan Roland Kobia said at a meeting of members of the Caspian-European Integration Business Club (CEIBC) with EU ambassadors and the Caspian-Black Sea region countries in Baku on Wednesday.
"The Azerbaijani government has already taken the necessary steps in this direction, but this is not enough. Implementation of additional measures would cut Azerbaijan's path to join the World Trade Organisation (WTO)," Mr. Kobia said.
He said the EU stands ready to support all government efforts in this direction as the body of members is interested in cooperation with Azerbaijan.
Mr. Kobia named the EU's readiness to sign an agreement with Azerbaijan on visa facilitation and the association as proof of this interest.
"Signing of the Association Agreement is to assist enhanced cooperation of the EU with Azerbaijan," he noted.
Prior to the enactment of a new pact, Azerbaijan will continue to cooperate with the EU on the basis of an agreement on partnership and cooperation signed in 1996 that came into force in 1999.
The first round of negotiations on the associative membership was held on July 16, 2010 in Baku.
The EU plans to conclude the agreement with each of the 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 the simplification of visa regime with EU countries.
The association agreement covers four areas - political dialogue including issues of security, justice and human rights, economic, social and humanitarian issues and trade.
The final 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, the issue of the quality of goods remains a major challenge.
The foreign ministers of the three South Caucasus countries took part in the annual session of the European Council for Cooperation with South Caucasus countries in Brussels on Sep.30, 2009. A decision was then made about associate membership of the Caucasus countries into the EU. It is the most effective means to resolve conflicts and create internal reforms in these countries.