What Caused Failure of Aviation Agreement between Azerbaijan and EU

Baku / 29.11.17 / Turan: Despite the expected signing of an aviation agreement between Azerbaijan and the European Union in Brussels during the Eastern Partnership summit on November 24, which had been announced by the Deputy Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan Mahmud Mammadguliyev, that did not take place.

Of the Eastern Partnership program participants, only Azerbaijan and Belarus have not signed such an agreement. From the Caucasus countries, Georgia signed an aviation agreement in 2010, and Armenia signed it during the Brussels summit.

It should be noted that this agreement is standard for the Eastern Partnership countries. For example, the agreement with Georgia on a single airspace provides for the development of a common aviation space between Georgia and the EU within two years after its signing on the basis of rules in the fields of flight and aviation security.

Georgia will harmonize its legislation with the European standards and aviation regulations in such areas as flight safety, the environment, consumer protection, air traffic management, and economic regulation.

According to the signed agreement, all the EU airlines will be able to fly direct to Georgia from any point of the EU, like Georgian air carriers. The agreement will remove all restrictions on prices and the number of weekly flights between Georgia and the EU.

In other words, the country's aviation market should be open to the EU companies, and given the monopolistic nature of AZAL, the failure of signing the agreement for some reason is not surprising.

First, the EU would not agree with the monopoly on the part of the national air carrier, and the treaty, as in the cases with Georgia and Armenia, would say about open airspace.

On the other hand, given the anti-protectionist policy of the EU, it is unlikely that Brussels will agree with the continuation of state subsidies for AZAL. It should be noted that only direct subsidies for AZAL from the state budget are 10 million manat a year.

The EU also prohibits the concentration of the airport and the national carrier in one hand, which is observed in Azerbaijan. Turan previously repeatedly wrote that the airport should be separated from the air carrier and the head of the airport should be a person independent of the President of AZAL, Jahangir Askerov (http://www.turan.az/ext/news/2017/-/free/markets/en /118339.htm).

Negotiations with the EU are conducted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on behalf of the national government. And given the possibility of AZAL"s pressure on the government, one can understand why the agreement was not signed in Brussels.

AZAL will not agree with the access of European companies, especially low-cost ones, to Azerbaijan"s airspace, as after that it would have to yield in the price policy.

As a result, AZAL and its powerful leader have won. And the citizens of Azerbaijan have lost, as they continue to face the price disgrace of the national air carrier.

Meanwhile, the spokesperson of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry, Hikmet Hajiyev, in an interview with Turan said negotiations on the agreement are continuing.

"The constructive negotiations are continuing between the parties. In the final document of the summit there was also a reference to this agreement," Hikmet Hajiyev said. -71D-

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