Posted on 16.08.2013 in Azerbaijan, Featured, News, Uncategorized

Azerbaijan: EU may abolish visa regime completely

A complete abolition of the visa regime between Azerbaijan and the European Union (EU) could become the next step after its facilitation, Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister Mahmud Mammadguliyev said on August 12. The sides plan to sign an agreement on visa simplification at the third Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius on November 28-29.

According to Mammadguliyev, the simplified regime will be applied immediately after the signing and enactment of the agreement. “The signing of the agreement will be followed by ratification procedures, including at the Parliament of Azerbaijan and the European Parliament,” Mammadguliyev said. “Furthermore, it is necessary to sign bilateral agreements with the countries that are part of the Schengen area, but are not members of the EU [Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, and Liechtenstein]. Thus, there is no need to sign separate agreements with the EU Member States.”

According to him, Azerbaijan and the EU have already agreed on the categories of people to be covered by this agreement. “The agreement will cover quite an extensive list of individuals, including, first and foremost, citizens applying for visa for education and business purposes. In case the agreement between Azerbaijan and the EU is implemented smoothly, our visa relations will be extremely liberalized. Thus, the second phase will be the abolition of the visa regime,” Mammadguliyev said.

Under the visa simplification agreement, scientists and students traveling on educational matters, patients visiting for treatment, state and governmental officials, as well as persons visiting Europe for participation in sport, cultural and humanitarian events will get visas through simplified procedures.

Moreover, the agreement will cut the number of documents for getting a visa, fees and the opportunity to get long-term and multiple-entry visas. Azerbaijani citizens, who intend to visit relatives living in Europe, will benefit certain privileges. Azerbaijan and the EU launched official negotiations on visa facilitation in March 2012 in Baku.

The EU and Azerbaijan are maintaining relations under the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, which was signed in 1996 and came into force in 1999. In 2009, the EU passed a decision to sanction negotiations on the conclusion of bilateral association agreements of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia with the organization. The negotiations on the Association Agreement started in July 2010.

According to Mammadguliyev, Azerbaijan and the European Commission will resume video conferences in the framework of negotiations on the Association Agreement in autumn. “Perhaps, they will be resumed in September,” he said. According to him, at this stage talks can be held without plenary meetings. The last meeting was held in April, 2013.

The Association Agreement covers four areas – political dialogue, including issues of security, justice and human rights, economic, social and humanitarian issues, and trade. Negotiations are conducted regarding all these areas. Opportunities will be provided in the future for the export of Azerbaijani goods to EU countries. Azerbaijan already enjoys duty-free export of several thousand types of commodities to EU countries, however, the quality of these goods is said to be a problem.


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