Eu-Azerbajan Relations An Ever-closer Partnership for a Better Future
By José Manuel Barroso
The European Union was built as a project of peace and reconciliation in the aftermath of the Second World War. The idea underpinning it was to change confrontation into cooperation and integration. And this dream has fundamentally transformed the European continent into a region of long-lasting peace, stability and prosperity.
What started in the early 1950s as a coal and steel community has gradually but resolutely extended to new areas of close cooperation such as the economy, the environment, social policy, internal affairs and foreign policy – all far beyond its initial remit.
Today, the European Union is a stunning success story – the peaceful transformation of the European continent based on common interests and shared values of democracy and governance, a market economy, solidarity and respect for human dignity. The EU is a vibrant single market of 500 million people where goods, services, people and capital move freely. It is also the world’s biggest trading partner and the biggest provider of development assistance. It is home to the second largest reserve currency in the world – the euro – and a driving force on the international stage. It has also become a source of inspiration for other regions in the world, and the EU is keen to share its own experience to help other countries and organizations to shape their own governance models.
Drawing from our past and practices, the EU is proof that with a shared vision, a strong value base, mutual trust and joint commitments, peace, stability, modernisation and sustainable development are achievable.
It is this approach which guides us also in our relations with Azerbaijan. The EU came to Azerbaijan in the 1990s to forge close long term relations. We came to share our experience and know-how of peaceful transformation and socio economic reforms, sustainable growth and responsible governance. We also came to learn, to listen and to understand. Azerbaijan is a key partner for the European Union. Being an EU’s close neighbour and partner in many forums, Azerbaijan also has a unique geostrategic location and a growing regional importance as a political and economic player. Our priority will be to continue strengthening our ties with Azerbaijan at various levels, in order to unleash the immense potential of our relations and also to contribute towards a politically stable and economically prosperous Southern Caucasus.
The implementation of the Eastern Partnership, signed in 2009, and the launch of the Association Agreement in 2010 will lift our relations to new heights and ensure mutual benefits for our citizens.
The European project has opened an entirely new chapter in the history of the continent. It is a chapter that is still unfinished. We are now proposing to Azerbaijan and our other partners in the region the chance to write it together.