ASSOCIATION TALKS TO OPEN WITH ARMENIA, AZERBAIJAN AND GEORGIA
News | 12.05.10 | 09:58
Europolitics, The European Affairs daily
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The European Union’s foreign ministers rubber-stamped, on 10 May,
the mandate for the European Commission to launch talks with Armenia,
Azerbaijan and Georgia on association agreements. "I look forward
to the launch of negotiations on these ambitious and comprehensive
agreements," said Catherine Ashton, the Union’s foreign affairs chief
in a statement following the decision. "This is a clear sign of our
strong commitment to further deepen the relationship between the EU
and the countries of the South Caucasus on the basis of shared values
and principles, including democracy, the rule of law and respect for
human rights," she added.
Association agreements are part of the Eastern Partnership project,
launched by the EU a year ago in Prague with the aim of enhancing
relations with the six former Soviet republics (Armenia, Azerbaijan,
Belarus, Georgia and Ukraine). Apart from political relations, they
cover trade aspects aiming at establishing a ‘deep free trade area’
between the EU and the participating countries.
According to EU sources, the Commission intends to finalize
negotiations on the political part of the agreements within two years.
Talks on the more complex trade-related issues might last over three
years, according to an EU official. The Commission intends to treat
the three South Caucasus countries as "a package" and carry out talks
with them simultaneously. However, the outcome of the negotiations
will be assessed individually, specifies the EU source.
To date, the Union has launched negotiations on association agreements
within the framework of the Eastern Partnership with Ukraine and