Statement by Commissioner Štefan Füle following the meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan Mahmoud Mammad-Guliyev
Brussels, 8 April 2013 - Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle met with Deputy Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan Mahmud Mammad-Guliyev in Brussels today. He recalled the EU´s commitment to strengthen the relations with Azerbaijan as well as the need for frank and continuous exchange of views. Commissioner stressed that domestic developments in Azerbaijan do have an impact on EU-Azerbaijani relations – this can be positive or negative but needs to be accepted. He appreciated that the climate in bilateral relations improved but added that concerns remain about a number of issues on the domestic political scene in Azerbaijan, especially freedoms of assembly, expression, media, as reflected in the recent European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) progress report.
The Azerbaijani side voiced an expectation for the partnership between the EU and Azerbaijan to assume a strategic dimension; the EU would welcome a widening and deepening of dialogue and cooperation, including also in areas of shared values and freedoms.
Commissioner Füle stressed that dealing with these issues will help both sides to seize the opportunities to see progress in bilateral relations this year in time for the Vilnius summit of the Eastern Partnership. Negotiations on visa facilitation and readmission agreements have advanced very well and negotiations on an aviation agreement have seen progress since January 2013. Progress in the negotiations of an Association Agreement is also under way, with another round of scheduled for tomorrow.
Commissioner Füle also emphasized the need for progress in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict resolution process, stressing as crucial the sides' restraint on actions and statements that could lead to an escalation.