5 Nov 2019 18:19

Azerbaijan prioritizes 'one-at-a-time' approach within Eastern Partnership framework - foreign minister

BAKU. Nov 5 (Interfax) - Security aspects will occupy a key and important place in Azerbaijan's cooperation with the European Union, Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry Elmar Mammadyarov said.

"Security cooperation will be likely a prominent dimension in our mutual dialogue with the EU. Azerbaijan is a gateway for Europe to wider Caspian Sea and Central Asia for identifying and scaling up its efforts in addressing security challenges arising from hybrid threats, such as cybersecurity, the security of energy infrastructure, as well as preventing and countering radicalization, unresolved conflicts, violent extremism and terrorism," Mammadyarov said at the High-Level Ministerial Seminar on 'A New Political Vision for Eastern Partnership' in Stockholm on Tuesday.

The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry press service circulated the text of Mammadyarov's presentation on its website.

The EU should better listen to partner countries if it wants the Eastern Partnership [EaP] process to be attractive and alive, he said.

"Upholding the principles of international law and rule-based global order is the best way to tackle challenges," he said.

"But in order to make EaP resilient and responsive to emerging threats, we need to deliver on the bedrock commitments of EaP. 10 years ago in Prague, we adopted Joint Declaration giving birth to EaP. There, we unanimously agreed that EAP would be based on commitments to the principles of international law. We cannot afford tolerating anymore of occupation and abuse of the core principles of EaP," Mammadyarov said.

"Armenia not only maintains the occupation of territories of Azerbaijan, but both in words and deeds derails the process and sabotages the efforts of finding the soonest peaceful settlement of the conflict," he said.

"So, if the agenda of the next decade of EaP doesn't have a strong security component, there will be less of value-added in the process for Azerbaijan," Mammadyarov said.

Therefore, in light of the abovementioned factors, Azerbaijan should reflect on how the Eastern Partnership agenda has benefited it, how it is going to evolve, what can be expected in the next ten years, and how appealing Eastern Partnership's mechanisms and tools will be, he said.

"Azerbaijan prefers the one-at-a-time approach. We must be pragmatic and to some extent realistic," he said.