The Cooperation Council between the European Union (EU) and the Republic of Azerbaijan held its eleventh meeting on Tuesday, 7 December 2010. The EU was represented by Mr Zsolt Németh, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Hungary (Chair of the Cooperation Council meeting) and Mr Štefan Füle, Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy. The Azerbaijani delegation was led by Mr Mahmud Mammad-Guliyev, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus, Ambassador Peter Semneby, also took part in the meeting.
The parties discussed the implementation of the EU-Azerbaijan European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plan and issues related to enhancing EU-Azerbaijan relations, including the ongoing negotiations of a new EU-Azerbaijan Association Agreement within the framework of the Eastern Partnership. The Cooperation Council underlined the need to remain focussed on and speed up implementation of the ENP Action Plan, including WTO accession, also in view of the Progress Report to be published in spring 2011. The Cooperation Council provided a good opportunity to take stock of latest developments in the South Caucasus, as well as to review recent political and economic reforms in Azerbaijan.
The EU recalled the importance of continuing progress in democracy, rule of law and human rights, in view of the deepening of bilateral relations between the EU and Azerbaijan in the framework of the Eastern Partnership and encouraged Azerbaijan to step up reforms in these fields. The EU reaffirmed its readiness to continue its support for the further development of democratic institutions in Azerbaijan, including in the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy and the Eastern Partnership. The EU welcomed the convening of the first meeting of the EU-Azerbaijan Subcommittee on Justice, Freedom, Security and Human Rights and Democracy, underlining that fundamental freedoms, as well as freedom of expression and freedom of the media, are essential elements in the bilateral relationship, including in the bilateral dialogue with Azerbaijan. The Cooperation Council discussed EU-Azerbaijan cooperation in the energy sector and agreed on the need to further implement the EU-Azerbaijan Memorandum of Understanding on energy signed in November 2006. The Cooperation Council also discussed several projects in this field and underlined the importance of the next months for the development and effective start of Nabucco and ITGI.
The Cooperation Council also explored the state of play concerning the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The EU expressed appreciation for the ongoing dialogue between Armenia and Azerbaijan and welcomed the recent statement by the Heads of Delegation of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair Countries and the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia at the OSCE Summit in Astana. The EU expressed its support to the efforts carried out by the Minsk Group and informed about EU support to confidence building measures to facilitate the process of resolving the conflict.
The meeting of the Cooperation Council was preceded by a joint ministerial working lunch between the EU and Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia to discuss the Eastern Partnership and prospects for deeper cooperation between the EU and the three South Caucasus countries, as well as conflict resolution.
Council of the European Union