AZERBAIJAN – EUROPEAN UNION
After the Republic of Azerbaijan regained its state independence in 1991, its relations with the European Union still support economic and political reforms, creation of the East-West transport and communication corridor, development of infrastructure, etc. as developed in different frameworks.
Azerbaijan’s transit position in the region, its location at the crossroads of land and air transport in Europe and Asia, as well as Eurasia’s role as a transport hub, are factors that make the country attractive to the EU.
The partnership and Cooperation Agreement signed in 1996 in Luxembourg and entered into force in July 1, 1999 (entered into force in 1999) covered cooperation in political dialogue, trade, investment, legislation, science, and culture. Although the implementation period of the agreement in 2009, its execution is automatically extended for 1 year every year until the new agreement is signed.
In 1998, the EU appointed a special envoy to Azerbaijan. In 2000, the Representative of Azerbaijan to the EU was established. In July 2003, the EU appointed its special representative for the South Caucasus.
In 2004, Azerbaijan was included in the European Neighbourhood Policy, and in 2009, it was included in the Eastern Partnership Program, a multilateral cooperation format in the eastern direction.
One of the main tools of the EU for the implementation of its interaction with the states of the South Caucasus was the “European Neighbourhood Policy”. In 2004, the Republic of Azerbaijan was included in the European Neighbourhood Policy Program. Azerbaijan has been able to implement many economic, political, legal, and administrative reforms within the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy Programme and has received financial and technical support from the EU.
A memorandum of Understanding on strategic partnership in the field of energy between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the European Union was signed on November 7, 2006, in Brussels. The sides emphasized the importance of ensuring the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and inviolability of the internationally recognized borders of the countries of the region, especially in terms of eliminating threats and risks to strengthen European energy security. The document states that cooperation will be carried out in 4 areas:
- Adaptation of national legislation in the field of energy to EU legislation;
- Strengthening physical and technical security of energy supply and transit systems from Azerbaijan and the Caspian Sea basin;
- Development of a comprehensive energy demand management policy on energy conversation and climate change targets;
- Technical cooperation and sharing of experience.
So far, relations with the European Union support economic and political reforms, the creation of the East-West transport and communication corridor, the development of infrastructure, etc. developed in frameworks. In the early years of independence, relations with the EU were developed within the framework of “technical assistance to CIS countries” (TACIS), “Europe-Caucasus- Asia Transport Corridor” (TRACECA), “interstate program on oil and gas transportation to Europe” (INOGATE), “humanitarian aid” (ECHO) and other programs.
The agreements on visa facilitation and readmission of persons residing without permission between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the EU were signed on November 29, 2013, and February 28, 2014, respectively. Both agreements entered into force on September 1, 2014.
The Joint Declaration on partnership on displacement was signed on December 5, 2013, in Brussels. The main purpose of the Joint Declaration is to facilitate the movement of people between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the EU, better management of migration flows in accordance with relevant international standards, and expand cooperation in combating illegal migration.
In November 2917, the Joint Declaration of the 5th Eastern Partnership Summit in Brussels reaffirmed Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. The other paragraph of the Joint Declaration emphasized that all conflicts in the territories of the Eastern Partnership countries should be resolved on the basis of the norms and principles of international law. Attempts by the Armenian side to add to this clause articles that meet his aggressive interests have failed. The Joint Declaration highlighted special support for Transport and energy projects implemented with the active participation of the Republic of Azerbaijan and emphasized the strategic importance of the “Southern Gas Corridor”, the initiator of which is president of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, for the European Union.
The document pays special attention to bilateral and multilateral projects implemented with the Eastern Partnership countries of the European Union. The development of visa-free travel documents of the Republic of Azerbaijan with the European Union took a special place among the areas of joint cooperation to be carried out with the Eastern Partnership countries in the coming years. The document also mentions other areas of international cooperation in which Azerbaijan participated.
In July 2018, a ceremony was held to paraphrase the document “Partnership Priorities” between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the European Union with the participation of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and President of the European Council Donald Tusk at the EU headquarters in Brussels.
As stated in the first paragraph of the document, Azerbaijan and the European Union agreed on joint partnership priorities based on mutual interest and common values in order to further strengthen cooperation. At the same time, the first paragraph expresses the commitment of both sides to support the territorial integrity, independence, and sovereignty of the countries, as well as the inviolability of international borders.
After the renewal of the European Neighbourhood Policy, the EU held negotiations with Azerbaijan on a news partnership priorities document that will replace the ENP Action Plan. A ceremony marking the end of the document negotiations was held in Brussels on July 11, 2018, with the participation of the president of the Republic of Azerbaijan Mr. Ilham Aliyev. The document was adopted on September 28, 2018, on the recommendation of the Azerbaijan-EU Cooperation Council and entered into force from that date.
Partnership Priorities include cooperation in the following areas.
- Strengthening institutions and good governance;
- Economic development and market opportunities;
- Interconnects, Energy Efficiency, Environment and climate activities;
- Displacement and relationships between people.
Work is underway to extend the validity of the document until 2027.
The document also highlights Azerbaijan’s advantageous geostrategic position and our country’s contribution to the implementation of East-West and North-South transport and energy projects by the European Union. The Southern Gas Corridor is among the main priorities of natural gas supplies to European markets. The Joint Declaration on the Southern Gas Corridor was signed in Baku on January 13, 2011. In the document, Azerbaijan is regarded as a country that made a significant contribution to the Southern Gas Corridor and built it. The parties define Shah Deniz-2 as a shared strategic goal of delivering existing natural gas resources from other fields of Azerbaijan to European markets.
The official opening ceremony of the Southern Gas Corridor took place at Sangachal Terminal on May 29, 2018. Thus, the foundation of a new stage in Azerbaijan’s energy strategy was laid. The 3,500 km “Southern Gas Corridor”, produced as part of the “Shah Deniz” field in the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian Sea, passing through Georgia to Turkiye and from there to Europe, consists of three pipelines — SCP (South Caucasus Pipeline), TANAP (Trans-Anatolian Gas Pipeline) and Trans-Adriatic gas pipeline (TAP). The last part of the Southern Gas Corridor, TAP, was completed in December 2020. The project creates great opportunities for the delivery of Azerbaijani gas to major European markets such as Italy, Germany, France, Great Britain, Switzerland, and Austria. 7 countries — Albania, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Greece, Georgia, Italy and Turkiye participate in the implementation of the Southern Gas Corridor. Also, 3 Balkan countries — Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Montenegro — Intend to join the project as partners at the next stage.
After the 44-day Patriotic War, the European Union also joined the process of normalization of Azerbaijani-Armenian relations and the signing of a peace treaty. 2021, on December 14, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev met with President of the European Council Charles Michel and Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan in Brussels. As a result of the meeting, the statement made by the head of the European Union lists the meetings and statements of 2020 November 10, 2021, January 11, and November 26 (Sochi), which were openly signed in Russia, and stressed the importance of fulfilling the obligations arising from these documents. While the European Union did not call both countries to sign a comprehensive peace treaty, the last paragraph emphasized the importance of restoration of communication infrastructure “in the South Caucasus, in particular, in respect of the sovereignty of countries between Armenia and Azerbaijan”. Charles Michel expressed the EU’s support for the creation of communication infrastructure in the region, the opening, and development of lines providing reconciliation between countries, and even said that the EU would support these projects through economic and investment resources. One of the noteworthy provisions of the statement is the recommendation of the head of the European Union to Armenia and Azerbaijan “to eliminate the conflict heritage”.
2022, on April 6, president of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev met with President of the European Council Charles Michel and Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan in Brussels. The statement, which followed the second trilateral meeting, noted that the leaders evaluated what happened after their last meeting in Brussels in December 2021 and a video conference with French President Emmanuel Macron in February 2022. The leaders also reiterated the need to fully comply with the provisions of the trilateral statement of November 10, 2020. The sides welcomed the meeting of high-level representatives of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Brussels on March 30 and agreed on the need to continue this relationship to ensure the agreements are reached the level of leaders. The statement also agreed to convene a Joint Border Commission in accordance with the Sochi statement of November 26, 2021 for the purpose of delimitation and demarcation of bilateral borders. The mandate of the Joint Border Commission will consist of 1) delimitation of the bilateral border between Armenia and Azerbaijan; 2) ensuring a stable security situation along and near borderline.