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Brussels, 29 November 2013
Cecilia Malmström welcomes the signing of a Visa Facilitation Agreement with Azerbaijan
Today, the European Union and Azerbaijan signed an agreement to facilitate the procedures for issuing short-stay visas.
"I am very pleased that the visa facilitation agreement has been signed. It will allow citizens from Azerbaijan to travel more easily to the Schengen area, as well as for EU citizens to travel to Azerbaijan. This is a very tangible result of the Eastern Partnership and will further promote interaction between citizens of the EU and Azerbaijan", said Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs.
The EU-Azerbaijan Visa Facilitation Agreement was signed in Vilnius on the occasion of the third Eastern Partnership Summit by Commissioner Štefan Füle responsible for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy who welcomed it: "I am delighted we signed this agreement at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius. This is a significant milestones in the EU's cooperation with Azerbaijan, one that will bring tangible benefits for Azerbaijani citizens."
The EU-Azerbaijan Visa Facilitation Agreement was signed in Vilnius on the occasion of the third Eastern Partnership Summit.
It makes it cheaper and faster for all citizens of Azerbaijan to acquire short-stay visas allowing them to travel throughout the Schengen area.
The application process will be easier for many categories of citizens. The number of documents that needs to be presented to prove their purpose of traveling will be reduced. Moreover, certain categories of persons will benefit from a full visa fee waiver, such as students, journalists, representatives of civil society, or persons participating in scientific, cultural, artistic activities and sport events.
For large categories of persons the agreement also simplifies also the criteria for issuing multiple-entry visas valid up to five years.
Furthermore, the citizens of the EU and Azerbaijan holding diplomatic passports will be exempt from the visa requirement, contributing to facilitate contacts between the Azerbaijani authorities and the EU in the framework of the Eastern Partnership.
A short-stay visa is for an intended stay of no more than 90 days in any period of 180 days.
Visa Facilitation and Readmission Agreements with Azerbaijan
In September 2011 the Commission proposed to open negotiations on agreements to facilitate the procedures for issuing short-stay visas as well as on the readmission of irregular migrants between the European Union and Azerbaijan (IP/11/1052).
The visa facilitation and readmission negotiations with Azerbaijan followed the political commitment taken at the Prague Eastern Partnership Summit in May 2009 regarding the improvement of people–to people contacts.
In order to implement the visa facilitation, the readmission agreement also needs to be signed. The negotiation of the readmission agreement has been completed in parrelel and internal procedures towards its signature are being finalised up.
The European Parliament will then need to give its consent before both agreements can be concluded and finally enter into force simultaneously.
The UK and Ireland do not participate in the Visa facilitation Agreement; Denmark and the Schengen associated Countries (Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) are invited to conclude bilateral Visa Facilitation Agreements on similar terms as the EU-Azerbaijan Visa Facilitation Agreement.
So far, the EU has signed visa facilitation and readmission agreements with eleven countries: Armenia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cape Verde, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia and Ukraine.
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