Our Analytics 19 june — 15:10

EU sends strong signal to Azerbaijan (Our correspondence)

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BY VLADIMIR RESHETOV, SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

As we have already reported, yesterday, President Ilham Aliyev participated in a video conference of the European Union and the Eastern Partnership countries and spoke to its participants -- leaders of 27 EU member states and high representatives of Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Belarus and Armenia.

The video-conference was chaired by the President of the European Council Charles Michel. It was also attended by President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and Head of European Diplomacy Josep Borrell.

Ilham Aliyev participated in the video-conference of the European Union and the Eastern Partnership countries

At the end of the video summit, Charles Michel said that the Eastern Partnership (EaP) was a priority of foreign policy of the European Union. At a press-conference, he noted with satisfaction that for many years the Eastern Partnership was beneficial for both parties and brought concrete results to people. He emphasised that EaP was the tenth largest trading partner of the European Union, and the EU itself was the number one partner for four countries of this format.

'The leaders expressed the political will to further build a space of common democracy, prosperity and stability, based on our common values, primarily based on laws of the international order and international law,' said Michel. 'The Eastern Partnership is a priority of foreign policy of the European Union and will remain one of them in the same way as our European priorities: democracy, human rights, the rule of law, gender equality, structural reforms and the fight against disinformation,' he emphasised.

In turn, Ursula von der Leyen recalled that the Eastern Partnership had existed for more than 10 years, and this project had been successful, since the European Union was the most trusted organisation in the six EaP countries.

'Seven out of ten people in these countries consider our relationship to be good,' said Ursula von der Leyen. She added that the meeting agreed on five priorities for the coming years. The head of the European Commission explained the details of these agreements.

Ursula von der Leyen announced 55% increase in trade between Azerbaijan and EU

'First of all, we want a partnership focused on an economy that creates new jobs, better interaction between our countries, and better opportunities, especially for young people. The numbers are impressive. Between 2016 and 2019, trade between all six of our partners has increased significantly. For example, with Azerbaijan by 55 per cent, with Ukraine by 50 per cent.

We also see intra-regional trade growth, which has doubled, which is also important. And we want to use this success,' the European Commission chief said with conviction.

As a second priority, she mentioned a situation of pressure on democratic institutions, human rights, gender equality and the rule of law.

'Our third priority is a partnership that connects. During the crisis, we saw -- and this is obvious -- that digitisation is important. The EU will work with its eastern partners to modernise technology, expand the benefits of a single digital market and ensure high quality infrastructure and services for people throughout the region.'

Ursula von der Leyen emphasised that the EU and the Eastern Partnership should also focus on the fight against climate change.

The fifth priority should be, according to the head of the European Commission, concrete financial assistance to the countries of the region.

She gave some examples. 'The financial assistance of the European Union to small and medium-sized enterprises since 2016 has made it possible to create or maintain 90 thousand jobs in the region. If you look at Yerevan, then its residents can now use a balanced metro system. If you look at the residents of Tbilisi, then thanks to European means there are environmentally friendly city buses. Training, for example, local officials in Ukraine has improved public services for citizens,' said Ursula von der Leyen.

Ilham Aliyev voiced his position at the summit of the European Union and the Eastern Partnership countries

She also said that the EU responded to the coronavirus pandemic in the countries of the partnership and made available 2.4 billion euros to the states of the region.

'Today's video-conference with full confidence strengthened our common involvement in the Eastern Partnership, as well as the view that the EU and Eastern partners are strong together,' the European Commission chief emphasised. Details of the press-conference from Brussels were conveyed by the correspondent of the Polish PAP agency.

Statements by EU leaders, who, together with the leaders of the Eastern Partnership, outlined the prospects for the development of joint activities, combined with the position of President Ilham Aliyev, allow Azerbaijan to confidently continue reforms, including in the economic sphere in difficult times.

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