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Brussels, 9 December 2013
EU-Azerbaijan: Willingness to enhance cooperation on all levels
Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle participated in the Cooperation Council between Azerbaijan and the European Union in Brussels today. This is what he said at the press conference afterwards:
"May I start with the same sentence I used last year? Because it fits well this year: "We are glad to see Azerbaijan and the European Union moving closer to each other. Our cooperation is bearing fruit" - just look at the results of the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius and the signature of the Visa Facilitation Agreement.
The Visa Facilitation Agreement as well as the Mobility Partnership have been signed. These agreements, together with the Readmission Agreement - to be signed early next year - will boost people to people contacts, which is an important element of our cooperation.
And we want to enhance this cooperation on all levels. The negotiations on the Association Agreement and a Strategic Modernisation Partnership continue. We would like to accelerate the pace of negotiations. In this regard we encourage Azerbaijan to intensify its work towards the WTO accession, which is a precondition to further advance our trade relations by eventually establishing a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area.
Another essential element of our relations is respect for fundamental freedoms. We call on Azerbaijan to respect its international commitments in this regard. There is still a lot to be done in areas such as freedom of the media, freedom of assembly, freedom of association.
It is equally important to bring electoral legislation in line with the recommendations of the OSCE/ ODIHR. This needs to happen soon so that Azerbaijan can deliver fair and transparent municipal elections next year and parliamentary elections in 2015. There is also important work to be done to address corruption.
In all these areas, Azerbaijan can count on the EU’s support. We are committed to continue and to deepen our frank and open dialogue. We are committed to make our cooperation mutually enriching. We will be as ambitious as our partners are willing to be, and we will deliver to the extent to which our partners are able to deliver on reforms. "