Baku-APA. Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle met with the Deputy Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan Mahmud Mammad-Quliyev to discuss openly and frankly a range of bilateral and regional issues. They agreed that both sides wish to continue to strengthen their bilateral relations, APA reports.
Commissioner Füle stressed that the EU needs an Azerbaijan furthering its democratic development fully in line with the European Neighbourhood Policy based on common values and interests. "We have seen an intensification of our relations: we are making progress in the negotiations on visa facilitation and readmission. Our strategic partnership on energy is developing and we welcome the recent ratification of the two agreements on the construction and operation of the Transanatolian Pipeline, essential for the realization of the Southern Corridor," Commissioner Füle said. "At the same time, there is still a huge potential to further develop our ties, through Azerbaijan’s active involvement in the Eastern Partnership. The ongoing negotiations on a new Association Agreement are the most visible expression of our common intention to bring our relationship to a higher level. In this context the respect for human rights and democratic principles deserves the highest level of commitment. Although there have been positive steps in recent months, there is definitely room for improvement. Electoral law, freedom of assembly and freedom of the media are among the areas for which more efforts are needed," he added.
Commissioner Füle also discussed the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh, one of the most difficult protracted conflicts in Europe. The EU’s position is to fully support the OSCE Minsk Group’s efforts to work further with both sides for a clear acceptance of the Madrid principles, as a basis for peace. Commissioner Füle also welcomed the newly appointed Ambassador of Azerbaijan to the EU and underlined that he looked forward to working with him.