Azerbaijan and the European union will on Tuesday (7 February) start negotiations on a new agreement between them that will broaden the scope of co-operation and upgrade relations to a new level. This was stated by the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk when briefing journalists after talks with visiting Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev.
President Tusk started by re-affirming the support of the European Union for the independence, sovereignity and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.President Tusk said in his briefing together with president Aliev that the EU is the main trading partner of Azerbaijan and the discussions focussed on how the EU can help to diversify Azerbaijan's economy.
Referring to human rights issues, Donald Tusk said that the EU always highlights the importance it attaches to human rights and fundamental freedoms, inclduing freedom of expression. "The EU believes an open society is the best guarantor for stability and prosperity" he added.
On Nagorno-Karabakh President Tusk said that the status quo is unacceptable, and the EU believes there is no military solution to this conflict but there should be a political solution based on international law. The President of the EU Council said that the EU wants to broaden the scope of its relations with Azerbaijan and negotiations to upgrade the existing agreement will start tomorrow.
Replying to the comments of President Tusk, president Aliev thanked the European Union for its support for the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and reminded that a large chunk of Azerbaijani territory remains under occupation.
Speaking in English, President Aliev said a new chapter was opening in EU-Azerbaijan co-operation. He welcomed the start of negotiations on a new agreement tomorrow, and said the negotiators should hurry and not lose time in order that a new strategic phase in EU-Azerbaijan relations may start soon.
commonspace.eu ran a live blog during the day covering developments around the visit. You may read it here.
Georgian-Belarus relations improved after 2008, when unexpectedly Belarus did not follow Russia in recognising the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia despite Kremlin pressure.
First Vice-President Aliyeva noted that Azerbaijan is located at the crossroads between the civilizations of the East and West, and is one of the few countries that are a member of both the Council of Europe and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.