Arie Gut: Azerbaijan is a real example of dialogue between civilizations

Thu 30 January 2014 12:04 GMT | 16:04 Local Time

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News.Az reprints from the interview with board member of the Azerbaijan -Israel international association Arie Gut.

As you know, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev met in Davos with Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres.  In this respect, how would you assess the current level of relations between Azerbaijan and Israel?

Co-operation and friendship between Azerbaijan and Israel have deep roots. Jews living in Azerbaijan since the late XIX - early XX centuries and to this day, have left an indelible mark and have a great contribution to the development of Azerbaijani science, culture, health, economy and industry.

 Today national and ethnic tolerance exists in Azerbaijan which has such a rich history of relationship, and Jewish community living in this country for centuries is an integral part of the Azerbaijani people and society.

Relations between Israel and Azerbaijan after independence of Azerbaijan evolved incrementally. Since 1995, Israel and Azerbaijan began to converge gradually. Both sides are always friendly to each other. Azerbaijani leadership strongly condemned and condemns any manifestation of anti-Semitism in the former Soviet space, not to mention the fact that such a thing as anti-Semitism does not exist in Azerbaijan.

Basic foundation of broad economic and political cooperation was laid in 1998, when the current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the capital of Azerbaijan with a short overnight visit and met with Azerbaijan's national leader Heydar Aliyev. The historical visit of Israel Shimon Peres to Azerbaijan took place later in 2009.

As a representative of the International Association AZIZ, I can only welcome the meeting of the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which will contribute to further strengthening and deepening of relations between the countries. I would like to mention the fact that the political, military and public figures of Israel traditionally speak good and positively about Azerbaijan and prospects of Azerbaijani- Israeli cooperation .

Official Baku is considering the strengthening of the strategic cooperation with Israel only in the context of their own national interests and does not intend to use it to the detriment of other countries. Speaking about the Azerbaijani -Israeli partnership, it is important to take into account the balanced position of Baku regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. All these facts represent the desire of the two countries and peoples and their leaders to the strategic partnership and convergence.

Along with the high level of political dialogue and close economic cooperation between Azerbaijan and Israel, a very important, in my opinion, is the human factor of the bridge. Israel appreciates the warm and sincere attitude of the government of Azerbaijan to 20000 Jewish community. There has never been anti-Semitism in Azerbaijan. We, as the natives of Azerbaijan, as the Azerbaijani Diaspora in Israel are proud of this indicator of tolerance.

Azerbaijan is an authentic sample of dialogue among civilizations. Name me another country - Muslim or Christian - two synagogues and the largest educational Jewish center in the South Caucasus were built under the patronage of the President and the first lady of Azerbaijan. I think you will not find any other country and we in Israel state this with a great pride.

How do you assess the level of economic relations between the countries?

Azerbaijan has turned from a serious political partner into a very important economic partner for Israel. Trade turnover between the two countries reached $ 4 billion. Israel has several reasons to seek stronger relations with Baku. First and foremost, Israel wants to show the world their full loyalty to the Muslim countries and who, if not Azerbaijan, fit better for the role of a friendly Muslim state? It is clear that the cementing factor  in Azerbaijani- Israeli cooperation is energy. Azerbaijan is a reliable energy supplier to Israel. About 45 % of oil supplies to Israel come from Azerbaijan.

The main items of bilateral trade cooperation are energy, defense, telecommunications, agriculture and health. This may also include the rational use of water resources. While the attention of the Israeli companies is focused on the energy sector of Azerbaijan, the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic - SOCAR shows interest in projects of drilling in the waters of the Mediterraneancoast of Israel.

Recently, my close friends and associates - Dr. Arie Mishnah and Alex Kaplun - established  the Chamber of Commerce "Israel -Azerbaijan", which is to play a very important role in strengthening economic and business bridge between Azerbaijan and Israel.

What role does AZIZ play in strengthening ties between Azerbaijan and Israel?

Today it is a reality , and Azerbaijan can be proud of this -  Israel has a fairly powerful and strong Azerbaijani diaspora organization - the International Association AZIZ . Special role in the formation and development of our organization has been played by the Azerbaijan Republic State Committee for Work with Diaspora.

The strategic partner of AZIZ is the Heydar Aliyev Foundation led by First Lady of Azerbaijan, Milli Majlis deputy, Goodwill Ambassador of UNESCO and ISESCO Mehriban Aliyeva. AZIZ is not just the Azerbaijani diaspora organization in Israel but also the real bridge and locomotive of cooperation and partnership between Israel and Azerbaijan. This team is the "think tank" and generator of ideas for real propaganda of Azerbaijan in Israel.

I would just list the fact that last year as part of the campaign Justice for Khojaly, with the support of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, we held a huge amount of events in many cities in Israel with the obligatory presence of the mayors of these cities and the political elite of the country. From this perspective, we have stepped up to work with the Israeli media. We have established business and a very warm connection with almost all Israeli print and electronic media, as well as TV and radio. Through these media we conduct active propaganda of Azerbaijan in Israel, talk about music, creative and historical heritage of Azerbaijan, as well as the truth about the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict - Armenia's aggression against Azerbaijan, occupation of 20 % of Azerbaijani territory, Khojaly genocide .

A team of like-minded, such as Lev Spivak, Egyana Salman, Arie Gut, Victoria Dolinskaya, Mikhail Agaronov , Etibar Ahundov, Jamil Mammadov, Michael Salman, Roman Perez, Rauf Agalarov, Ilana Lightman, Hafiz Guliyev and Mehman Rahimov, has been formed as part of AZIZ.

The factor of a team of associates at the International Association AZIZ gives us enormous power to act effectively and clearly and to work in Israel for the benefit of Azerbaijan. I think that the offensive nature of the International Association of Aziz, which is the genuine and real Azerbaijani Diaspora in Israel, to some extent creates concern of the pro-Armenian lobbyists in Israel.




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