EU Special Representative: South Caucasus is playing ever-increasing role in ‘Middle Corridor’

President of the European Council, Charles Michel, personally will continue to be very heavily engaged the process of establishing peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Toivo Klaar, the European Union (EU) Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the Crisis in Georgia, stated about this in an exclusive interview to Trend.

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.

“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 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,” the EU Special Representative concluded.