The last 10% on the road to Europe - 'There may be tension with Russia on this issue' | Eurasia Diary -

30 May, Saturday

The last 10% on the road to Europe - 'There may be tension with Russia on this issue'

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Yesterday, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov said at the 16th meeting of the Azerbaijan-European Union Cooperation Council that there is such a high level of relations that I consider it is very positive and politically creative. We have recently been able to synchronize the negotiations on all three parts. So now, we have a very good opportunity today, for 90 per cent have already been agreed.

Mammadyarov explains ‘evaluated speech as last 10% for deal’ to MP, political scientist Rasim Musabeyov told Eurasia Diary.

R. Musabeyov informs that ‘Yes, such an agreement is expected with EU’. Probably, It will happen in May. Actually, deal is planned beforehand. Simply, the certain difficulties have been resolved late that prevented sign of agreement.

MP as well adds that mentioned difficulties do not include the Karabakh problem or human rights issue. In general, these difficulties are not related to political and humanitarian issues, but mostly economic factors delay the sign of an agreement. As it is known, Azerbaijan is not a member of the WTO and does not have economic, commercial commitments to member states. This factor prevents the expansion of economic relations with the EU.

Since Ukraine and Georgia are members of the WTO these countries didn’t face to difficulties during signing of Association Agreement with EU. Because, if there was no disparity between these states and the EU in terms of economic obligations. However, Azerbaijan is not a WTO member, and Azerbaijan's foreign trade laws are completely different from the laws of the WTO member countries. Therefore, we can’t sign a common convention with the EU yet.

Obviously, it is possible to sign an agreement on economic cooperation with the EU on the basis of WTO membership or WTO principles. However, there are some difficulties. In this case, new legal problems may arise for banks, insurance companies, AZAL and other companies in Azerbaijan. Because, if Azerbaijan enters this kind of convention, the economic organizations in the country will must  operate on the basis of European and WTO standards. I think that if these issues are not solved, as E.Mammadyarov said that the agreement with the EU was not 100%, but 90%.

The remaining 10% are related to the above economic factors. Mentioned 10% difficulties are not issues unsolved. It should be borne in mind that 50% of Azerbaijan's products are exported to Europe and for many years the Azerbaijan-EU cooperation continues to be fruitful. Azerbaijan is one of the main sources of energy for European countries, and the EU gives special importance to Azerbaijan in this regard. Therefore, I think that these troubles will soon be overcome. At present, the Ministry of Economy of Azerbaijan and the Customs Committee are working on these issues.

The agreement with the EU is very important. With all good intentions, it is possible to overcome all difficulties. We will be a member of the WTO. Therefore, the EU should sign an agreement soon. If we are able to resolve this issue now, there will be no problem to joining the WTO. If it is talked the about agreement between Russia and Azerbaijan on the European Union, there is no expectation that any official Moscow will be pressured. Because before Azerbaijan, Armenia and Kazakhstan, which are members of the CSTO, signed similar agreement with EU.  Russia did not commit any maneuvers in this process.

The chairman of the Society for Humanitarian Research, Conflict Prof. Avaz Hasanov shared his views with Eurasia Diary.

A. Hasanov noted that "the Republic of Azerbaijan has been discussing the document that it will sign with the European Union for a long time now. Government supported document a document containing its own interests has proposed a "strategic partnership" conventional document after refusing to sign the "Association Agreement". On the eve of the discussions around this document, Armenia has signed a similar document. Now, Azerbaijan and Belarus have not signed any document. When joining the Eastern Partnership Program, the Republic of Azerbaijan did not hurry to co-operate in other areas as it signed a separate document with the EU on "energy security".

But in this case, cooperation with the European Union has become an important factor for the country itself. Even though Europe criticized Azerbaijan for its human rights and democracy-related processes, it had to sign a cooperation agreement regardless of its name with the EU. This is a prerequisite for the SAP. Azerbaijan has done everything to reduce its criticism of itself in Europe by now promoting reforms. I can’t say now that there is serious pressure on human rights to Azerbaijan. The government used this opportunity and intensified the negotiation process, and, of course, it would be a good tactic to sign and approve this document during the elections in the European Parliament.

There is no serious obstacle in it. However, it is possible that former officials who are afraid of reform hinder staff changes. External barrier is unavoidable. Especially during the signing of the agreement, Armenians are likely to aggravate the situation on the frontline. Of course, the desire of Azerbaijan to be closer to the European family irritates Russia most. But I think that Ilham Aliyev will be able to neutralize Russia and it will cope with it. The document will be signed.

A. Hasanov also said that "It is the" Strategic Cooperation "agreement noted by Mammadyarov. The "Strategic Partnership" agreement to be signed with us will be approximately in the same text as the agreement signed by the EU with Armenia. Perhaps, given our commitment to our energy security, more space is needed.  Tension can be exacerbated with Russia in this regard. In particular, by flaring up protests in the country, authorities may try to avert the government to sign a contract. However, Azerbaijan is vigilant in this issue. Because Azerbaijan is the main economic partner of Europe. Azerbaijan's energy projects are the best support for Europe in preventing Russia's hegemony. Because Azerbaijan is a valuable partner for Europe.

What will be the course of our course in Azerbaijan, if the agreement is to be signed, is to end the public debate on our choice of Russia and Europe. The agreement will allow the authorities to carry out reforms. It will strengthen the position of power. It will enable the political reforms in society.

Written by Nejat Ismayilov

Translated by Hasan Mammadov

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