FM: Cooperation with EU does not affect relations with Russia

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan has given an interview to RIA Novosti.

- Mr. Minister, how do you assess the progress in the creation of a new association agreement between Azerbaijan and the European Union? What obstacles are there, what is the most difficult moment in the negotiation process?

- Negotiations on the draft association agreement between the European Union and Azerbaijan are held in a constructive manner and on the basis of mutual understanding. There are no particular obstacles in the process of preparing the document.

There are some differences in views regarding trade issues. Since Azerbaijan is not a member of the World Trade Organization, we also have a number of differences in terms of tariffs and subsidies. However, in the course of discussions, we will try to find common points of contact on the basis of mutual understanding.

- When is the next round of negotiations on this agreement expected? What are the expectations about the terms when this agreement  can be finalized, initialed, when can it enter into force?

- The next round of talks is scheduled for the end of the first quarter or the beginning of the second quarter of 2018.

- What are the major elements of the agreement, to which Baku is committed?

- All elements of the agreement are equally important. We believe that this document will play an important framework role for the comprehensive development of relations between the European Union and Azerbaijan. The document provides for prospects for cooperation in the political, economic, trade, energy, transport and humanitarian spheres.

- Can a new agreement between the country and the European Union affect the relations between Baku and Moscow?

- Azerbaijan attaches great importance to the development of strategic partnership with its neighbors, especially with Russia. In general, we are satisfied with the significant results achieved in the development of cooperation with Russia in the political, economic, trade, humanitarian and other spheres.

Cooperation between Azerbaijan and the European Union also develops on the basis of mutually profitable cooperation and mutual respect. We attach great importance to the development of relations with the European Union. Although relations between Azerbaijan and Russia and between Azerbaijan and the European Union are developing in different planes, they serve primarily for the benefit of our peoples.

- Do you agree with the fact that the "Eastern Partnership" should not become a separator between the EU and Russia? And are there any prerequisites for this at the present time?

- We see our participation in cooperation projects not as something exclusive, but as an inclusive component. That is, our participation in any partner project cannot work against the interests of other partners, there is no such purpose or intention.

Just like the strategic partnership between Azerbaijan and Russia does not affect the relations between the EU and Azerbaijan, our relations with the European Union do not affect the friendly relations between Azerbaijan and Russia, which have a strategic component.

- Mr. Minister, do you think visa-free regime between Azerbaijan and the Schengen zone is possible? Is there a prospect in this regard?
- At present, this issue between Azerbaijan and the European Union is regulated by an agreement on simplified visa regime and readmission. We believe that the achievements gained under this agreement open up opportunities for cooperation in the liberalization of the visa regime.

- Are the meetings in the trilateral format - the Foreign Ministers of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia - expected on the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh?

- Currently there are no plans to organize a tripartite meeting in this format.


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