EU-Azerbaijan relations in focus at European Parliament event

Baku, March 7, AZERTAC

An open and frank discussion on the state of EU-Azerbaijan relations was held in the European Parliament on Tuesday, 7 March, with the participation of Azerbaijan government officials, MPs and civil society members, and Members of the European Parliament, representatives of European institutions, think tank and civil society representatives and others. The event entitled "EU-Azerbaijan relations: taking the relationship to a higher level" was hosted by Heidi Hautala MEP (Greens) and Andrejs Mamikins MEP (Socialists and Democrats) and organised by the European Policy Centre and LINKS (Dialogue, Analysis and Research).

Various Azerbaijani speakers spoke about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. MP Fuad Muradov said that various MEPs and European entities were violating Azerbaijani laws by visiting Nagorno-Karabakh or engaging in economic activity in the territory. He said that this was a painful matter for Azerbaijan and urged the European Parliament to deal with the issue.

The discussion was held in a friendly and amicable atmosphere and many speakers commended the fact that issues were now being discussed openly and in a manner of equal and mutual respect.

Deputy Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan Mahmud Mammadguliyev in his speech reiterated that Azerbaijan is ready for continued, enhanced, and inclusive co-operation with the EU based on mutual interest and joint ownership. He said that the conference was very timely, coming at a time when the two sides embarked on a negotiating a new strategic agreement between them. The Deputy Foreign Minister said that Azerbaijan was entering the negotiations with a belief that the new agreement will provide a strong basis for EU-Azerbaijan co-operation, which are already very strong.

The Deputy Foreign Minister said that the new agreement will have three main blocks: political and security; trade and investment; and sectorial areas, including economic and humanitarian. The Deputy Foreign Minister said the Government of Azerbaijan wanted to focus on the first block. He said that Azerbaijan had already made its ideas known to the EU, and was awaiting now the response of the EU. He called for a timely process of negotiations.

Deputy Foreign Minister Mammadguliyev spoke at length on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and Azerbaijan's vision for resolving the conflict. The speaker said that the Azerbaijan government has concerns regarding illegal economic activity in Nagorno-Karabakh, and the participation of European entities in such activity. He said that the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry had made representation to the EU on these issues.

He said Azerbaijan was actively taking steps to make the situation better for civil society in the country, and Azerbaijan is aware of the EU's interest in these areas.

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