The meeting was held in an open and constructive atmosphere and was used to take stock of the situation in the country since the last Subcommittee meeting in October 2016, to assess progress made in all relevant areas and to explore ways to deepen EU-Azerbaijan cooperation, including in the context of the on-going negotiations on a new legally binding agreement, reads a message on the EU website.
The two sides exchanged views on JFS issues such as migration and mobility, covering among others migration, border and asylum management, as well as the implementation of the Visa Facilitation and Readmission Agreements and of the Mobility Partnership; organized crime, including the prevention of and fight against trafficking in human beings, corruption, money laundering, terrorism and drugs; and the strengthening of the rule of law, justice system reform as well as the protection of personal data.
The second day allowed for a frank and open discussion on democracy and the human rights situation in Azerbaijan as well as in the European Union. Issues related to elections and electoral framework, freedom of religion and belief as well as social and cultural rights were discussed.
"The EU and Azerbaijan also tackled human rights cooperation within international organisations, in particular at the Council of Europe and the OSCE. The EU side valued Azerbaijan's membership to these organizations and emphasized the importance of abiding by the international commitments that the parties have taken as members of these organizations," the message reads.
In preparation for the Subcommittee meeting, the EU met with representatives of civil society as well as with other international partners.
The EU remains engaged in dialogue with Azerbaijan as regards these and other key human rights and democracy issues, according to the message.
EU relations with Azerbaijan date back to 1991 and are based on the EU-Azerbaijan Partnership and Cooperation Agreement.
In late 2016, the EU Council adopted a mandate for the European Commission and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to negotiate, on behalf of the EU and its member states, a comprehensive agreement with Azerbaijan.
The new agreement should replace the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement and better take account of the shared objectives and challenges the EU and Azerbaijan face today.
The new agreement will follow the principles endorsed in the 2015 review of the European neighbourhood policy and offer a renewed basis for political dialogue and mutually beneficial cooperation between the EU and Azerbaijan.
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