Allow me to greet you all once again and express hope that today’s open exchange on state of our bilateral relations and prospects ahead will allow us to identify ways and means for further development of this cooperation.
2017 proved to be productive and promising for advancement of our cooperation agenda. The visit of the President of Azerbaijan to Brussels in February 2017 played a crucial enabling role in this regard. Official launch of negotiations process on new bilateral document and high level statements from both sides indicated to mutual ambitions.
Eastern Partnership Summit in Brussels proved that cooperation within EaP should be based on realistic consideration of challenging situation in the region and focus on benefits and potential added value that EaP could bring. “20 Deliverables by 2020” will enable us to concentrate on pertinent areas of cooperation with clear cut goals, aspirations and timeframes for their implementation.
After three-year hiatus, we resumed PCA dialogue mechanisms - relevant subcommittee and parliamentary cooperation committee meetings were convened. Two sides have engaged in a consultations process on a new EU – Azerbaijan Partnership Priorities (2018-2020) and we are on the verge of finalizing this important document.
We welcome the steps to integrate the principles of differentiation, flexibility and greater ownership into new ENP and appreciate the EU’s cooperation in the preparation process of the revised ENP EU-Azerbaijan Progress Report for 2015-2017.
Today Azerbaijan is EU’s largest trade partner in the South Caucasus with EU countries account for 46% of Azerbaijan’s trade turnover. The EU is also the biggest investor in Azerbaijan as in last 10 years more than 20 billion dollars were invested by EU member states to our economy both in oil and non-oil sectors.
Energy cooperation stands high in our bilateral agenda. We continue and intensify our strategic partnership on energy through the promotion and implementation of the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) – largest infrastructure and energy project in Europe that corresponds to the shared objectives of EU and Azerbaijan to diversify energy sources and routes and establish direct energy and transport links.
Promotion of the mobility and people-to-people contacts is an important dimension of EU-Azerbaijan interaction. We do believe that the successful implementation of readmission and visa facilitation agreements should pave the way for launching the dialogue on visa liberalization between EU and Azerbaijan.
It is already third decade that Armenia- a member of the EaP has been using force against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of another member of the EAP and continues to keep the one-fifth of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territories under the military occupation. The unlawful presence of the armed forces of Armenia in the territories of Azerbaijan remains the major cause of non-settlement of the conflict and undermines the regional peace and security.
As the most interested party in changing the status-quo and the soonest negotiated settlement of the conflict Azerbaijan supports the position of the international community reflected in numerous decisions and related documents of the international organizations, including UN SC resolutions, to start implementing without delay the plan of withdrawal of the armed forces of Armenia from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.
Visits of agents of illegal puppet regime installed in occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan to EU countries is of great concern. The visit of agents of puppet regime takes place in flagrant abuse of EU-Armenia Visa Facilitation Agreement and Shengen visa regime. Illegal economic or other activities of legal and physical persons of EU countries in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan are yet another matter of serious concern.