Azerbaijan-Europe cooperation: Towards a deeper dialogue
Last week, Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev visited Belgium at the invitation of the President of the European Council Donald Tusk.. Vestnik Kavkaza presents the article of New Eastern Europe on the prospects of cooperation between Azerbaijan and Europe.
In the meeting with the President of the European Council Donald Tusk, President Aliyev discussed the new agreement between Azerbaijan and the EU that replaces the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, which signals a new impetus in the development of relations. It was signed by the European Union and Azerbaijan, as well as Georgia and Armenia, on April 22nd 1996. The important peculiarity of the PCA is that it was signed not only between the South Caucasus states and the European Commission, but also on a bilateral basis with all the all EU member-states. The document included provisions promoting the creation of a dialogue framework for the development of political relations between countries in the region, the development of democracy in the South Caucasus countries, economic development, the provision of EU assistance to complete the process of transition to market economies, and so on.
Last year the European Council granted the European Commission and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy a mandate to negotiate a comprehensive agreement with Azerbaijan on behalf of the EU.The agreement will follow the principles endorsed in the 2015 review of the European Neighborhood Policy and offer a renewed basis for political dialogue and mutually beneficial cooperation between the EU and Azerbaijan.
Notably, Azerbaijan has a good record of cooperation with the EU member-states, which is enshrined in adopted strategic partnership agreements.
The parties discussed the resolution of the Armenian-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The EU recognises the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan that was once again expressed by the President of the European Council Donald Tusk.
The main priorities of the EU in the South Caucasus include maintaining stability and creating favorable conditions for the implementation of transport and energy projects. In order to achieve these goals, a regional approach is a key condition. The EU is aware that in the South Caucasus, regional cooperation is problematic because of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which constitutes the key threat to security in the region. Moreover, to put pressure on Armenia to withdraw from the occupied territories, Azerbaijan intends to pursue a policy of exclusion of Armenia from regional projects.
Thus, for the successful development of regional cooperation in the South Caucasus, the EU should actively demonstrate its political will and make efforts to resolve the conflict within the framework of universally recognised norms and principles of international law. Only then will cooperation between Azerbaijan and Armenia be possible.