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 Thursday, March 16 2023 12:00
Marianna Mkrtchyan

Situation on Karabakh line of contact continues to be very tense -  Oliver Varhelyi,

Situation on Karabakh line of contact continues to be very tense -  Oliver Varhelyi,

ArmInfo.Azerbaijan is an important partner for the European Union (EU), and Brussels is interested in continuing good cooperation, particularly when it comes to energy, cooperation in reforms, trade and investments, Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi, on  behalf of High-Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell, stated at the debate on the EU-Azerbaijan relations.  

Negotiations for a new comprehensive EU-Azerbaijan agreement are  going on, and Brussels remains committed to continuing them to  finalize them soon, he said. 

"As you note in your report the human rights situation and the  respect for rule of law in Azerbaijan remain our concern. These are  the core of our relationship as jointly agreed in the EU-Azerbaijan  partnership priorities. We firmly believe that the rule of law, human  rights and democratic institutions are the fundamentals of an  independent, stable and prosperous country and a constructive  business environment.  We welcome Azerbaijan's signature on the  European Convention on Human Rights protocol banning death penalty in  all circumstances. 

"We are closely following the implementation of the media law and the  adoption of a new law on political parties. Through our Delegation in  Baku we are closely following individual cases of human rights  defenders. 

"Our cooperation with Azerbaijan in the energy sector has  intensified. A memorandum of understanding on strategic partnership  in the sphere of energy was signed in July last year in Baku. As you  also acknowledge in the report this cooperation is more important  than ever for ensuring diversification of Europe's energy supplies,  bringing new reliable sources of energy to Europe.  

"Russia's invasion of Ukraine has forced us to develop and diversify  trade routes and transport connections between Europe and Asia. I  agree that also our cooperation with Azerbaijan in the area of  connectivity is strategically important. In this context we welcome  the important assistance Azerbaijan is providing to Ukraine.  Connectivity and energy are key elements of the economic and  investment plan which aims to mobilize up to 2bln Euros of public and  private investments in Azerbaijan. 

"The EU is above all driven by the common goal to contribute to  stable, peaceful and prosperous South Caucasus. We stand ready to  continue supporting Azerbaijan whether through facilitation of peace  process or through continued provision of humanitarian and demining  assistance. 

"The EU deployed its mission in Armenia, the EUMA, in order to reduce  tensions and support peace process. This is an important step to  reinforce stability and strengthen the EU's role in the region. We  continue to fully support the facilitation of the dialogue between  the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia on all issues pertaining to the  peace process, including on a future peace treaty and border  delimitation through the efforts of the president of the European  Council. 

"We encourage the leaders of both countries to use the historic  opportunity to solve this conflict for good and return to the  substantial dialogue, as many important questions need addressing  urgently.

"As we saw against on the 5th of March, the situation on the Karabakh  line of contact continues to be very tense. We deplore the incidents  that led to at least five deaths. The circumstances surrounding this  deadly incident need to be fully investigated. All arties should show  restraint in order to prevent any actions [that] could further  undermine the regional stability and threaten the peace process. We  will continue to be fully mobilized," Mr Varhelyi said. 

In his closing remarks, he said that the debate manifested continued  interest in the EU-Azerbaijan relations.  

"I want to stress an important message out of this debate that the EU  will continue to follow closely the human rights situation in  Azerbaijan and the respect for the rule of law. I can assure you that  out intensified energy cooperation with Azerbaijan does not sideline  our continued efforts to advocate for human rights and rule of law in  our dialogue with Azerbaijan and we will continue to do so. We will  continue to engage with our Azerbaijani counterparts to advance  discussions on all issues pertaining to the peace process," Mr  Varhelyi said.   

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