Building on personal relationship between President Aliyev and President Michel, I see great potential in further developing bilateral ties – Toivo Klaar

By Trend

Building on the personal relationship between Azerbaijan’s
President Ilham Aliyev and President of the European Council
Charles Michel, I see that there is a great potential in further
developing all aspects of our bilateral relations, EU Special
Representative for the South Caucasus Toivo Klaar said in an
exclusive interview with Trend.

“First of all, I believe that President of the European Council
Charles Michel personally will continue to be very heavily engaged
and I would hope and indeed expect that in the future we will see
further meetings between the leaders. Because this format indeed
has been of great importance. President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev,
Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and President Michel have
been able to discuss and take forward a number of important issues.
And in that sense that is certainly one format that the EU will
continue to be focusing on as the key format to bring solutions to
various issues. At the same time, we will continue to also engage
on other levels. I personally, together with my team and also
colleagues from President Michel’s office, we will certainly engage
with other interlocutors both in Baku and in Yerevan to address all
the important issues that are there on the table. We’re talking
about the peace agreement, we’re talking about the reopening of
communications, we’re talking about the border. There are many key
issues where I believe that the EU has and will continue to deeply
engaged with the aim of helping to bring about solutions,” he
said.

Klaar noted that the EU already has given a helping hand in
opening of transportation and communication links in the South
Caucasus, but certainly, will continue to be heavily engaged on
this issue.

“I would point out that at the last leaders’ meeting on May 22
this was an important part of the discussions and indeed the
leaders reached certain important understandings that have now been
build up on when the deputy prime ministers of Azerbaijan, Armenia
and Russia have met over the past month to address this issue. But
this is of course, a key issue for Azerbaijan, it is also extremely
important for the EU, and it is naturally also very much important
for Armenia. And personally, I am confident that it is possible to
find a solution and to move forward on this very important issue in
the near future, because indeed, this is something that is of
natural interest to all involved and the EU will continue to pay
great attention to this area,” the EU Special Representative
added.

Klaar noted that EU will also continue to support Azerbaijan in
demining.

“This is of course an immense task and Azerbaijan has already
invested huge amounts in this and it will still take a lot of work
to clean up the territories and frankly, the EU is the largest
international donor to support this task. We recognize that for
people to be able to return this key issue, the landmines issue,
has to be ultimately not only addressed, but also resolved. This
will take a lot of financial resources, a lot of human resources,
machinery. As I said, EU is already the largest donor in this field
and we will continue to support Azerbaijan in all aspects to speed
up this process and to ensure that it will be possible as soon as
possible to really clean up the areas and to allow people to
return,” he said.

Klaar went on to add that the EU and Azerbaijan have expanding
relationship.

“I am hopeful that we can have our new agreement in the near
future. But if we look at the changing landscape of international
relations and of how transport corridors are shaped, the South
Caucasus and Azerbaijan in particular, I see playing an
ever-increasing role in the so-called Middle Corridor, as the
Middle Corridor gains an importance. There of course, as I said
already earlier, when I talked the reopening of transport routes, I
believe that is also of key interest to the European Union,
because, again, we’re talking about East-West trade, where
Azerbaijan has a key role to play and where I see that our
relationship between the European Union and Azerbaijan will only
increase in the coming years. And of course, we have our energy
relationship, but more importantly, I believe that building on the
personal relationship between President Aliyev and President
Michel, I see that there is a great potential in further developing
all aspects of our bilateral relations,” he said.

Klaar believes that if there is a comprehensive settlement
between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which will be the reopening of
transport infrastructure and communications that will certainly
bring in more investors, who will see, in the changing
circumstances the increasing importance of the South Caucasus for
international transit and trade.

“And not only that, but I see that in the future, as we can have
more cooperation between the three South Caucasus countries in
different fields, whether it is cooperation in energy, or whether
it is cooperation in water resource management, or even cooperation
in such issues as promoting tourism together, I see there being a
net benefit to all three South Caucasus countries in joint peaceful
development of the region. So, I believe that the path that we are
on right now calls great promise for Armenia and Azerbaijan, but
for the entire region and then also for the EU, because all three
countries are important neighbors of ours and we, certainly, wish
all the best to our neighbors,” EU Special Representative
concluded.

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