99% of the text on the aviation deal has already been agreed upon and there are no principle differences left
Kęstutis Jankauskas, the EU Ambassador to Azerbaijan believes that a new partnership agreement between the EU and Azerbaijan will be concluded in 2018. He stated in a recent interview with the Turan news agency that 99% of the text of the Common Aviation Area deal has already been agreed upon and that there aren’t any principle differences left.
Jankauskas also stated that 2018 will mark the centennial anniversary of Azerbaijan’s statehood.
“Being a secular, predominantly Muslim country, Azerbaijan has been a pioneer in many areas for the entire Muslim world. We will celebrate those achievements together.
“This is also an important year for our bilateral relations because we are going to work towards concluding an ambitious New Comprehensive Agreement.”
He underlined key trends that could be of mutual benefit for EU-Azerbaijan relations:
- To make progress in the construction of the South Gas Corridor which will allow Azerbaijani gas to reach the EU market in 2020;
- To make best use of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway and facilitate the free trade area in order to increase transport and trade volumes;
- To assist Azerbaijan in its economic reforms and diversification through providing the best European technologies available and offering progressive solutions.
Jankauskas also said that the EU-Azerbaijan comprehensive partnership talks were launched less than a year ago in February 2017.
“There is no need to hurry, yet we should guarantee a high-level agreement. At the same time, we should make sure that no time is lost, that we make progress wherever it’s possible and spare no efforts. We held two round of talks upon resumption of the negotiations last year. 99% of the text of the aviation deal has been agreed upon and there are no principle differences left. We just need to find a way to make the final step towards the initialing of the agreement. I very much hope that the text will be finally agreed upon this year,” he said.
The EU envoy also touched upon Azerbaijan’s failure to comply with its human rights commitments. He termed the recent allegations on Azerbaijan’s possible withdrawal from the Council of Europe as ‘media speculations’.
“It is important for Azerbaijan to be a member of the Council of Europe which is located in this region. It’s essential for its international position and its strategic priorities. The European Union has recently done a lot to help Azerbaijan find a solution in the case of Ilgar Mammadov,” said Kęstutis Jankauskas.