EU-Azerbaijan new partnership agreement should meet requirements of both sides, Assistant of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Head of Foreign Policy Affairs Department of the Presidential Administration Hikmet Hajiyev told EURACTIV.
“The negotiation process is still going on between EU and Azerbaijan. There are certain fundamental areas, on which we have a little bit different views, but both sides with constructive engagement are working together to narrow this gap. Almost 90 percent of the text of the agreement has been finalized. But there are energy issues, but also trade issues, we are looking for more engagement from the EU side. They shouldn’t take preferential
position, or in other words, offensive trade approach with regard to the agreement. Based on that understanding, we do believe that we can move forward. Because for Azerbaijan, it is also strategically important that we have own internal reform process and own economic priorities and initiatives. The agreement should meet the requirements of both sides and in the meantime, there should be mutually beneficial approach,” he said.
Hajiyev noted that Azerbaijan’s relations with the European Union are one of the important directions of Azerbaijan’s foreign policy.
“Azerbaijan and the EU are cooperating in many different spheres. Azerbaijan is also an important partner of the EU in terms of trade. Biggest investors in Azerbaijan are mainly EU countries. The EU and Azerbaijan are closely cooperating in security, transport and energy fields. Especially, in the energy field the EU and Azerbaijan are strategic partners. This year is particularly important, as we will finalize the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) and Azerbaijani gas will physically be on the territory of Europe,” he added.
As for the Eastern Partnership program, he noted it should be tailor-made.
“As regards the Eastern Partnership, my president has once again mentioned that in general, it is a framework that brings together different countries and we are also a part of this process to be engaged. We are participating in the Eastern Partnership program. Currently, there are some talks and discussions about further development of Eastern Partnership. But for us inclusiveness in this process, and also not to rank the partners are extremely important. Eastern Partnership should be designed in a sense that particularly, needs and requirements of the partner countries should be met and it also should be tailor-made. Because from Azerbaijani perspective, we see the Eastern Partnership as a general framework and we are not asking for any kind of donor support or any kind of financial support within the Eastern Partnership. We want to build up further cooperation with the European Union by using the wider framework,” noted Hajiyev.
Moreover, he talked about Azerbaijan’s role in improving the connectivity between the East and West.
“In general, the Silk Road concept resonates with Azerbaijan’s own perception, because Azerbaijan was historically located on the ancient Silk Road. Therefore, along this road, along the Caspian Sea, we are building different connectivity mechanisms with our Central Asian partners. It is not only about transportation, it is also about information and communication technologies. Along the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan with our Central Asian partners, with China and some other partnering countries involved, is building a new fiber-optic line as well. We are working on maritime and air component of the Silk Road. Simply, things are going well. There is a big potential for trade turnover between China and EU and as a mid-corridor, Azerbaijan can play its role. Especially, with Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway system we see that we can do a lot with our EU partners. Azerbaijan’s railway system is well integrated and connected with Russian railway system. Now we are working with our Iranian partners, so that we can bring goods from wider Indian ocean to the northern part of Europe within a short range of time,” added Hajiyev.