European Commission President to visit Azerbaijan

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso will visit Azerbaijan in early 2011, the European Commission’s office in Brussels told Trend. During his visit to Baku to be made on Jan. 13-14, Barroso will discuss economic and political aspects of cooperation between the EU and Azerbaijan. The focus will be made on energy projects.

At the moment, Barroso is supposed to meet with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. Other details of the visit, including meetings with senior officials of Azerbaijan, are still worked out, said the European Commission.

Barroso’s upcoming visit to Azerbaijan is the first one during his term as the head of the European Commission. Barroso’s visit was expected in June of this year, but was postponed due to reforms in the EU.

Relations between the EU and Azerbaijan launched in 1990s with the support of the European Commission to the CIS countries within the TACIS program.

The EU and Azerbaijan has an agreement on partnership and cooperation, which entered into force in 1999, as well as the sides cooperate within the European Neighbourhood Policy, which has been functioning since 2003.

In May last year, relations between Azerbaijan and the EU entered a new phase – partnership within the EU ‘Eastern Partnership’ program, initiated by Poland and Sweden.

The program does not envisage opportunities for EU membership, but envisages facilitating the visa regime, energy cooperation, the introduction of free trade zones. Small projects on student exchange, environmental protection, energy supply will be implemented as well.

“Eastern Partnership” envisages political and economic rapprochement with the European Union of six post-Soviet states – Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus and Armenia.

The program does not provide opportunities for EU membership, but also involves facilitating the visa regime, energy cooperation, the introduction of free trade zones. There will be carried out small projects on student exchange, environmental protection, energy supply.

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