Azerbaijan, Baku, August 13 /Trend A.Akhundov/
Following the simplification of the visa system between Azerbaijan and the European Union (EU) the next step can be a complete abolition, Deputy Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan Mahmud Mammadguliyev told Trend on Monday.
The sides are preparing to sign an agreement on a visa system simplification during the third summit of the Eastern Partnership countries in Vilnius on November 28-29, 2013.
The new system would be applied immediately after signing the agreement and coming into force, Mammadguliyev said.
"The signing will be followed by ratification procedures including in the Milli Majlis (Parliament) of Azerbaijan and in the European Parliament.
"Additionally, it is necessary to sign bilateral agreements with the countries that are included into the Schengen area, but are not EU members (Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, and Liechtenstein). Alongside with this, there is no need to sign separate agreements with the EU member states," Mammadguliyev said.
According to the Deputy Minister, Azerbaijan and the EU have agreed on the categories of persons to be covered by this agreement.
"The agreement will cover quite an extensive list of individuals. First of all it is citizens leaving the country for education and business. In principle, the document covers a wide range of categories. If the agreement's implementation between Azerbaijan and the European Union is performed properly, it will be followed by the full liberalisation of our visa relations, that is the second phase will be the abolition of the visa system," Mammadguliyev said.
The agreement for citizens of Azerbaijan implies the reduction of the list of documents to be submitted during an application for a visa, the possibility of issuing multiple-entry long term visas, reducing the cost for specific categories of people and setting deadlines for processing applications.
The readmission agreement in turn will enable the development of a mechanism of return to the homeland for those residing in the territory of the EU and Azerbaijan without corresponding permission.
Relations between Azerbaijan and the EU are based on the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement which was signed in 1996 in Luxembourg and came into force in 1999.
In 2009 the EU countries' foreign ministers granted the European Commission a mandate to start negotiations on the making of bilateral agreements with Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia in association with the EU. These agreements will be a new practical instrument to replace the bilateral action plans.
Azerbaijan is also included in the EU Eastern Partnership programme adopted at the initiative of Poland and Sweden and approved at the EU summit in Brussels in 2008.
The purpose of the programme is the convergence of the EU with Ukraine, Armenia, Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Belarus. The programme provides for a significant increase in the level of political interaction, broad integration of the former Soviet republics into the EU economy, increasing the amount of financial assistance to these countries and strengthening energy security.