EU-Azerbaijan: Commitment to widen cooperation and support modernisation
Brussels (28th August) - Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle, met with Minister for Economic Development of Azerbaijan Shahin Mustafayev in Brussels today to discuss ways to widen the EU-Azerbaijan cooperation.
Commissioner Füle and Minister Mustafayev had a comprehensive discussion about the political, economic and regional developments, and addressed joint priorities in the run-up to the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius in November.
"We are at a critical moment of our relations: this year offers opportunity for both the European Union and Azerbaijan. I emphasized the high ambitions which the EU retains for the development of our relations, as well as our continued readiness to give concrete support to core reforms such as those of public finance, education, regional development and justice, building on the excellent co-operation already achieved in the energy sector. I underlined the central importance for us of building a future based on democracy and human rights and in this context our strong wish, shared with Azerbaijan's other international partners, for forthcoming presidential elections to be conducted in an atmosphere of freedom and transparency." Commissioner Füle said.
Both parties agreed during the discussion that negotiations on the Association Agreement and the document on a Strategic Modernisation Partnership run in parallel and are complementary.
During their meeting, the Commissioner and the Minister signed a Financing Agreement for €19,5 million to launch the Framework Programme in support of EU-Azerbaijan Agreements. "The launch of this substantial programme demonstrates the EU's long-term commitment to support modernization and reform in Azerbaijan, and to ensure the effective implementation of the commitments undertaken in our Agreements, including the Association Agreement we are currently negotiating, as well as sectoral agreements on mobility and other specific issues. We believe in a future relationship built around shared values, good governance, human rights and democracy. The ultimate beneficiaries should be citizens themselves, and this means we need a strengthened public administration, including in the regions, providing modern services and acting with sensitivity to critical cross-cutting issues such as environmental sustainability and gender. There is a lot of experience in these types of reforms in the European Union and we are confident that our assistance will bring a real added value," Commissioner Füle remarked after the signature.