EU-Azerbaijan relations: Taking the relationship to a higher level7 March 2017
Maintaining a balanced and independent foreign policy has been a key goal of Azerbaijan since independence. Strengthening ties with the Euro-Atlantic community, not least with the EU, has been a central element of this policy. Over the past 25 years Azerbaijan and the EU have developed significant relations in a number of key spheres. Azerbaijan is part of the EU’s European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and Eastern Partnership (EAP), while the country also plays a central role in EU efforts to diversify energy sources and routes being the facilitator of the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC). Relations have not been without difficulties. The EU has on numerous occasions raised concerns regarding issues related to human rights and freedom of speech in Azerbaijan, and Baku often accuses the EU of double standards for failing to stand up more vocally in support of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. Both sides however remain strongly committed to maintaining and improving relations, and a new chapter opened during the recent visit to Brussels of President Ilham Aliyev, with the two sides agreeing to launch discussions on a new framework agreement that should form the basis of relations for the years to come. This Policy Dialogue, organised by the European Policy Centre and LINKS (Dialogue, Analysis and Research), under the patronage of the European Parliament’s Green Group, focused on key developments in Azerbaijani-EU relations including key areas for future cooperation.
Speakers included: Heidi Hautala, Member of the European Parliament (MEP), Andrejs Mamikins, MEP, Fuad Muradov, Head of the EURONEST Delegation and Chairman of the Youth and Sports Committee at the Parliament of Azerbaijan, HE Mahmud Mammad-Guliyev, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in Azerbaijan, Amanda Paul, Senior Policy Analyst at the European Policy Centre, Cavanshir Feyziyev, Member of the Committee on Foreign and Inter-Parliamentary Relations and Chair of the Parliamentary Cooperation Committee at the Parliament of Azerbaijan, Adriano Martins, Deputy Head of Eastern Partnership Division at the European External Action Service, Matthew Bryza, Senior Fellow at the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center and Global Energy Center, Atlantic Council, Ahmad Alili, Senior Researcher at the Center for Economic and Social Development, Rovshan Rzayev, Member of the Azerbaijani Parliament, Dennis Sammut, Director of LINKS