Azerbaijan and the European Union have discussed prospects for developing the overall cooperation as deputy foreign minister Khalaf Khalafov received a delegation led by Patricia Flor, EU Special Representative for Central Asia.
The meeting focused on the Azerbaijan-EU cooperation, energy and transportation projects, regional security, settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, as well as Caspian region-related issues.
Flor praised the current state of EU-Azerbaijan cooperation. She reaffirmed the EU`s commitment to broaden cooperation with Azerbaijan, adding the country played important role in terms of the future development of the EU-Central Asia cooperation. Flor also noted Azerbaijan`s contribution to ensuring European energy security, and pointed out the importance of long term strategic energy partnership between the EU and Azerbaijan.
Deputy FM Khalafov hailed the cooperation between Azerbaijan and the EU as rapidly developing. He said the country and the organization enjoyed long term and reliable partnership particularly in energy and transportation. The deputy FM said the implementation of energy projects such as TANAP, South Energy Corridor, Trans-Caspian pipeline would give a further boost to Azerbaijan`s role in European energy system both as a transit and a producer country. Khalafov said Azerbaijan was keen to expand relations between the EU and Central Asia region, noting the importance of TRACECA project in developing the region`s ties with Europe.
Touching on Azerbaijan`s role in maintaining regional security, the deputy Minister underlined Azerbaijan`s interest in expanding cooperation with Central Asia, as well as in ensuring peace and stability in Afghanistan. He noted that as an active participant in Istanbul Process on Afghanistan, Azerbaijan carried out infrastructure and social projects as well as projects aiming to strengthen human resources in Afghanistan. He also stressed Azerbaijan`s important role as a transit country for withdrawal of the ISAF troops from Afghanistan.
On the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Khalafov said Armenia`s non-constructive stance at peace talks remained as the main threat to regional security. “Provocative statements from the Armenian leadership concerning the possibly opening of the Khojaly Airport and illegal resettlement of Armenians fleeing the conflict in Syria in occupied territories of Azerbaijan further damages the prospects of the conflict`s settlement and the restoration of regional peace and stability.”
He also drew the EU delegation`s attention to crimes threatening global stability such as drug trafficking and terrorism existing in uncontrolled, occupied territories of Azerbaijan. The deputy Minister noted the necessity of putting more pressure on Armenia by the international community and the European Union.