Emin Eyyubov: “EU should demonstrate principled position on settlement of Nagorno Karabakh conflict” - EXCLUSIVE

Emin Eyyubov: “EU should demonstrate principled position on settlement of Nagorno Karabakh conflict”  - <font color=red>EXCLUSIVE </font>
# 22 April 2008 10:57 (UTC +04:00)
-How do you estimate current prospects of Azerbaijan-Belgium relations?
Diplomatic relations was established between Azerbaijan and Belgium on June 17, 1992. One of the Azerbaijani embassies was opened in Brussels in 1995, because Brussels is a political center of Europe and several European organizations are located there. Belgium Embassy in Azerbaijan was opened in 2007. It proves that Azerbaijan is a political and economic center of South Caucasus regions. Heydar Aliyev and Ilham Aliyev were in Brussels to participate in NATO and EU events and met with leaders of the country and discussed development of bilateral relations. We can observe the development of our relations year after year. The two countries are interested in development of political dialogue at a high level and expansion of cooperation between legislative and executive bodies and take measures in this direction. Azerbaijani and Belgian Parliaments have established relations and mutual friendship groups are functioning. Group members have visited Baku and Brussels and exchange of experience has been carried out on legislation. As regards to culture, education and science, Azerbaijani art figures have performed concerts in Belgium many times and exhibitions have been held as well. It is a demonstration of Azerbaijani culture in the world. Belgium is one the countries, where Azerbaijani students study in. Students visit Belgium individually and study there. We support this tendency. The Embassy takes measures in establishment of permanent relations between Azerbaijani and Belgian Universities and exchange of students and scholars.
- What about economic relations between Azerbaijan and Belgium?
Legal framework for economic cooperation has been established between the two countries. “Agreement on air-delivered supply between Azerbaijan and Belgium”, “Agreement on protection of investments”, “Convention on elimination of double taxation”, “bilateral agreement on administrative aid for customs” include into the legal framework. Proper measures are taken to sign agreements for further development of economic cooperation. “We conduct negotiations on “Agreement on trade and economic cooperation”. Delegation led by heads of Executive Powers of several regions and cities of Azerbaijan visited Brussels, Tournai and Namur cities in April, 2007.
As a result of this visit it was agreed to make Lankaran and Tournai twin towns and appropriate document will be signed soon. Generally trade turnover rate is increased between the two countries every year. Volume of trade turnover between Azerbaijan and Belgium amounted to 39 million and 439 thousand US dollars in 2006 and 51 million and 467 thousand dollars in 2007. Of course, large economic opportunities of both countries enable them to deepen relations. Our embassy aims to attract Belgian investors to the non-oil sector of Azerbaijan.
- Azerbaijani Embassy in Belgium was also accredited in the European Union. How do you evaluate relationship between Azerbaijan and EU? How can EU assist the solution of Nagorno Karabakh conflict?
- Azerbaijan, as a developing part of Europe under the conditions of democracy and free market economy, determined the integration into Europe as a strategic goal for itself. For that relations with EU are important for Azerbaijan and strengthening of these relations is one of the priorities of the Azerbaijan’s foreign policy. Azerbaijan-EU cooperation has commenced since 1992 and is successfully continued to date. Azerbaijan-EU agreement for Partnership and Cooperation signed 1996 and came into force in 1999 laid down the legal and practical basis for the relations. Azerbaijan as an active economic partner of EU is developing its relationship with the organization from the plane of unilateral assistance toward the full partnership. EU has recognized Azerbaijan as an important country for the development of South Caucasus, maintenance of energy security as a special actual issue for Europe and diversification of energy sources. Azerbaijan is the EU main trade partner in the South Caucasus now. EU-Azerbaijan Action Plan, Memorandum of Understanding on the strategic cooperation in the energy sphere and opening of plenipotentiary representation of the European Commission in Azerbaijan show that the relationship turned into the partnership and reached the new plane in order of merit.
Regarding the EU role in the solution of Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, we consider that this organization has to demonstrate principal position on this issue based on the principals and norms of the international law. In its approach to the regional conflicts, EU emphasizes the importance of territorial integrity and sovereignty of the countries, including Georgia and Moldova. Such approach is important for all similar conflicts, as well as for Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. EU can assist and support the restoration and reconstruction works in the conflict zone after establishing of mutual trust between the Azerbaijani and Armenian communities of Nagorno Karabakh, reintegration of Nagorno Karabakh to Azerbaijan and signing of peace agreement between the conflict parties.
-Are the EU and Belgian officials expected to visit Azerbaijan in the near future? Is any meeting related to Azerbaijan planned in the European Union?
-EU troika headed by Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel and included European Commissioner for Foreign Relations and European Neighborhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner, EU representative on the South Caucasus Peter Semneby and other officials visited Azerbaijan in February. EU special representative on the Central Asia Pierre Morel was on a visit to Baku in March.
The next meetings of EU-Azerbaijan cooperation committee and EU-Azerbaijan cooperation council will be held in June and December this year. As I have already mentioned various delegations from Belgium visit Azerbaijan. Belgian delegation composed of members of Belgian Senate Alen Desteks, Poll Vil and former parliamentarian Stef Goris attended the conference “Protection of political rights in Azerbaijan - new criteria” in Baku in April. Various delegations from Belgium will participate in the conference on the 85th anniversary of National Leader Heydar Aliyev “For democracy and stability: new prospects of cooperation” in May, international conference to be organized by Heydar Aliyev Foundation in June “Women’s role in intercultural dialogue” and events on the 90th anniversary of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic.
- Are you satisfied with the activity of Azerbaijani Diaspora in Belgium? Does the embassy support them?
-Like in other counties Azerbaijani Diaspora is young in Belgium, I would say it is being formed. Diaspora is not established artificially, this process requires many years. But there are some Diaspora organizations in Belgium. Of course, we would like these organizations to justify themselves fully and contribute to the solution of Azerbaijan’s fateful problems. As regards the support for Diaspora organizations, you know that this issue is in the focus of Azerbaijani Government’s attention. You are aware of its reasons. Diaspora organizations may play important role in ending the policy and propaganda carried out by our malevolent neighbors against our people, informing the world community of Armenia-Azerbaijan, Nagorno Karabakh conflict. In this respect there is broad cooperation between the Diaspora organizations and the Embassy.