(AFP) - The newly-enlarged European Union is to expand its political, economic and security co-operation with the south Caucasus region as part of its new "neighborhood policy," an EU envoy to the region said Thursday.
Anthonius Devries, the EU's special ambassador to Azerbaijan, said an action plan was being drawn up to "strengthen the activities of the EU on co-operation and integration," with the three south Caucasus states of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia.
"New forms of co-operation will appear," the envoy told a press conference. "Greater attention will be paid to the energy sector. You can expect new joint agreements. Co-operation on the fight against terrorism, on science, education and culture, will be strengthened."
He added that the EU was ready to take a bigger role in international efforts to resolve the armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. "If the sides approach us with a request to make more active efforts, we can look at the options," said Devries. "We do not rule out that the EU could have a positive influence on the search for peace."
The envoy said the specifics of the new relations between the EU and the south Caucasus would be hammered out over the next few months.
After its historic enlargement on May 1 from 15 member states to 25, the EU inaugurated its "neighborhood policy" to foster links with dozens of countries on the eastern and southern fringes of the new Europe and prevent the appearance of "new dividing lines." Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliev, during a visit to Brussels earlier this month, urged European Commission President Romano Prodi to take a more active role in the search for a peace settlement over Nagorno-Karabakh.