Azerbaijan, Baku, Feb. 8 / Trend, A. Akhundov /
A plenary session will be held in April within the negotiation process to sign an association agreement between Azerbaijan and the European Commission, Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister Mahmud Mammadguliyev told Trend on Tuesday.
"The ninth plenary session of the negotiating group will be held on April 9 in Brussels," Mammadguliyev said.
He added that the parties resumed discussions via video-conference. Meetings and video conferences have not been held for the last several months.
"Video-conferences have been already begun," he said. "One was held in January. It is planned to hold another one in February. The negotiations on a number of issues are underway."
The Association Agreement covers four areas - political dialogue, including issues of security; justice and human rights; economic, social and humanitarian issues; and trade. Negotiations are conducted regarding all of these areas.
The last direction will be the creation of future opportunities for the export of Azerbaijani goods to EU countries. Azerbaijan already enjoys the duty-free export of several thousand types of products to EU countries, but unfortunately, the quality of these goods remain a problem.
Earlier Mammadguliyev said it is very important for Azerbaijan to prepare a quality document that covers all aspects of the country's long term cooperation activities with the EU. Drafting the Association Agreement is not an easy thing.
Relations between the EU and Azerbaijan are being carried out under the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement which was signed in 1996 and came into force in 1999. However, the Government does not intend to artificially extend the signature time of the Association agreement, as it will create a legal framework for further cooperation with the EU.
Negotiations on association membership were launched in July 2010.
The EU intends to sign an agreement separately with each of the South Caucasus nations; the content of these agreements will depend on their depth of cooperation with the EU. In addition, plans to sign a separate agreement on the simplification of visa regimes with EU countries exist.
On September 30, 2009 in Brussels, the foreign ministers of the three South Caucasus countries participated in the annual session of the European Council for Cooperation with the South Caucasus Countries. At this meeting, a decision was made regarding the prospects of associate EU membership for the South Caucasus countries, which is the most effective stimulus for conflict resolution and internal reforms in the region.