Historical background to the document "Congratulatory letter of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev to the President of the European Commission Romano Prodi" (Baku, May 7, 1999)

The close cooperation between Azerbaijan and the EU started with Luxembourg agreement of 1996 and covers the period after the energy agreement of 2006 and the Action Plan of the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP). The Republic of Azerbaijan cooperating with the EU aims at achieving economic development, integration and rule of law.

Besides, Azerbaijan expects assurance of peace and stability in the region from the partnership with the EU. President Heydar Aliyev in his letter to President of the EU Commission Romano Prodi of May 7, 1999, expressed the hope that the organization will assist in ensuring peace in the region.

In July 1999, the Luxembourg agreement on Cooperation and Partnership between the EU and Azerbaijan entered into force. President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev issued a decree on the establishment of a permanent representative of the EU in Azerbaijan in April 2000. (http://www.azembassy.be/)

Visiting Brussels in the May of 2004, the Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev met the EU authorities led by Romano Prodi. In his talk with Ilham Aliyev, Romano Prodi supported Azerbaijan`s membership to the WTO and was ready to assist in the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. On June 18, Azerbaijan and two other Caucasian republics were included to the ENP. It meant closer cooperation with the EU.

In the framework of the development of the ENP, Romano Prodi visited Azerbaijan in September 2004. During the visit he met President Ilham Aliyev and other officials of the country. (http://www.ans.az/)

In his speech at Baku State University Romano Prodi talked about the importance of the ENP and its benefits for Azerbaijan. The EU Commission President said did not agree that the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was a frozen one. He substantiated it with human losses in the frontline because of the cease-fire violations and expressed his concern for not settlement of the conflict. He approved the negotiations between the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia. (http://www.ec.europa.eu/)

During the next visit of President Ilham Aliyev to Brussels in November 2006, an important agreement was signed between Azerbaijan and the EU. Ilham Aliyev and the EU Commission Jose Manuel Barrosu signed the agreement on strategic cooperation in the sphere of energy. In the press conference answering to the question that Armenia does not recognize the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan in the Action Plan to be adopted a week later, Jose Manuel Barrosu said that the EU supported the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. ("Azerbaijan" newspaper, November 11, 2006)

It was confirmed at the meeting of Ilham Aliyev with the Secretary General of the Council of the EU Javier Solana that there was a fruitful cooperation in the sphere of energy security, democratic reforms and human rights. J, Solana called Ilham Aliyev "a longtime friend of Europe." (ibid.,)

Historical background was compiled on November 22, 2006.