Structured consultations on the future of the Eastern Partnership were held in Baku

The AIR Center and the EU Delegation in Azerbaijan jointly held the structured consultations on the future of the Eastern Partnership in Baku on October 11th. Speaking at the event, Kestutis Yankauskas, the Head of the EU Delegation to Azerbaijan, mentioned that the EU and Azerbaijan have so far maintained their strategic partnership in the energy sector. According to him, the EU-Azerbaijan relations are currently developing in all areas of social and economic life, as 21 projects in total have already been implemented between the EU and Azerbaijan, with the participation of 34 institutions.

Later, Farid Shafiyev, the chairman of the Center of Analysis of International Relations, noted that the purpose of the event was to discuss the partnership relations within the framework of the Eastern Partnership, as well as current challenges, prospective projects and their benefits to Azerbaijan. Mr. Shafiyev stated that the current state of relations between the EU and Azerbaijan would also be discussed during the event, as "the EU is an important direction for Azerbaijan."

Then Vassilis Maragos, Head of Unit, European Commission DG Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations, underlined that following the expansion of the EU in 2004-2005, the organization has consistently invested in the development and security of the Eastern Neighborhood countries. According to him, the EU and Azerbaijan have agreed the partnership priorities and are currently working on a partnership agreement that addresses the wider and larger requirements. "This agreement will bring our relations to a new level," the EU official said. Mr. Maragos also added that the EU has established uniquely cooperative relations with all six Eastern Partner countries, adding that 3000 jobs have been created as a result of EU projects implemented in Azerbaijan. "The EU is Azerbaijan's largest investment and trade partner," Mr. Maragos stated.

The event was followed by panel discussions and a Q&A session. The consultations were attended by a wide range of stakeholders such as Azerbaijani state officials, parliamentarians, representatives of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences, universities, think-tanks, civil society and media.