Azerbaijan, Argentina will become close partners - envoy

Mon 27 Feb 2012 06:05 GMT | 10:05 Local Time

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News.Az interviews Mammad Ahmadzada, Azerbaijani ambassador in Argentina.

Mr. Ambassador, what was done by the Embassy in 2011 and what are the plans for 2012?

First of all, I would like to mention that the year of 2011 was marked with numerous mutual visits. During past year were realized the visits of Head of the State Customs Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Aydin Aliyev and the delegation of the Milli Mejlis members to Argentina. On its turn, Argentine Minister of Science, Technologies and Innovative Productions, Lino Baranao, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Lorenzo Basso, Undersecretary of State on Foreign Affairs, Norma Nascimbene de Dumont, two separate delegations from Senate and Chamber of Deputies of the Argentine National Congress, Head of the Argentine Customs Department, Siamora Ayeran, Director of National Scientific and Technical Investigations Council (CONICET), Marta Rovira, as well as several recognized politicians, opinion leaders and representatives of business circles visited Azerbaijan. Furthermore, some other high level meetings were held within the framework of international forums, out of which I would like to emphasize the meeting between Prime Minister of Azerbaijan, Artur Rasi-zade and Argentine Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship, Hector Timerman.

During the mentioned period 6 documents on cooperation were signed between the two countries  on customs, agriculture, science and technologies and more than 10 documents in various areas are under consideration.

Establishment of individual interparliamentary friendship groups with Azerbaijan both in Senate and Chamber of Deputies of the Argentine National Congress was one of the results of the last year. It is worth to mention that Azerbaijan is the first one among the countries of Caucasus and Central Asia with whom interparliamentary friendship groups were created in Argentine Parliament. The members of our groups in both chambers of the Congress have already made initiatives and suggested projects aimed at the development of cooperation with Azerbaijan.

The past year was rich with promotional events such as exhibitions, presentations, and conferences at different leading research centers, think-tanks, universities, libraries of Argentina, media broadcasts on local radio and television, articles in newspapers, magazines, and electron media. We also joined the important international events held in Argentina, including Buenos Aires International Book Fair and the initiatives undertaken in the framework of UNESCO's announcement of Buenos Aires as a book capital of the world. Furthermore, we launched IRS-Herencia - the first magazine ever about Azerbaijan in Spanish, which turned out to be a significant contribution to informing Spanish speaking world about rich historical and cultural heritage, traditions, and current realities of our country.

Meantime, at the end of the last year, on the occasion of 20th anniversary of the restoration of independence, a week of political, social and cultural events about Azerbaijan was held in Buenos Aires. As part of this week, took place inauguration ceremony of the Repository of publications about Azerbaijan at the National Library of the Argentine Republic - one of the largest scientific centers of Latin America. It was followed by the conference on foreign policy and development strategy of our country at the Council of Foreign Relations of Argentina (CARI), the leading think-tank on foreign policy of Latin America. Also, separate roundtables were organized with parliamentarians, opinion leaders and representatives of community organizations in Argentina.

All of these efforts were instrumental in placing Azerbaijan in focus in Argentina and making new friends. Today political and business circles, scientific, analytic centers of Argentina do realize the paramount geopolitical importance of Azerbaijan, its strengthening international image and growing economic capabilities, and are convinced that collaboration with Azerbaijan can be mutually beneficial. All these factors give ample grounds to predict in upcoming years the positive progress in our relations with Argentina.

Obviously, the Embassy will continue its efforts for strengthening bilateral cooperation as well as for further promotion of our country in 2012, so I expect the current year to be marked with significant events as well.

How would you comment on the position of Argentina in settlement of Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?

Argentina supports the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and this position is clearly reflected in the political documents signed between the two countries (Protocol on establishment of diplomatic relations and Memorandum of understanding on creation of mechanism for political consultations). Moreover, in several occasions, Buenos Aires has advocated the peaceful settlement of the conflict in accordance with UN resolutions and expressed its support to the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group.

What was done by the Embassy to inform the Argentine society about fair position of Azerbaijan in settlement of Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and to withstand against propaganda of Armenian diaspora?   

As it is known, the largest Armenian community in Ibero-America (Latin America, Spain and Portugal) lives in Argentina and for a long time in the absence of the Embassy of Azerbaijan, Armenian side spared no effort to influence the political circles of the country and the society by spreading one-sided information about the conflict.

The principle of territorial integrity is priority for Argentina and the position of this country in conflict settlement is based on the UN resolutions. Both of these points coincide with the position of our country. For these reasons, in its propaganda in Argentina about the conflict Armenian side has no other way than to distort the essence of this conflict, and the truth about it. Certainly, the Embassy is working on a comprehensive awareness of political, academic and analytical circles and society of Argentina about the real essence of the conflict and our fair position.

With the laps of time, as it becomes clear in Argentina that, Armenia has occupied 20% of Azerbaijani territory, and committed ethnic cleansing against more than 1 million Azerbaijanis and that the resolutions adopted on the conflict by the Security Council and General Assembly of the UN and other international organizations support the fair position of our country, the opinion of political circles and society of Argentina is considerably changing in our favor.

I would also like to remind unequivocal support of the government and legislative body of Argentina to Azerbaijan's position against the provocations arranged by the Armenian side at the end of last year when the head of the separatist regime, established by Armenia in the occupied territories of our country, was in Argentina.

How would you estimate the trade relations between Azerbaijan and Argentina?

At the moment there are a positive dynamics of trade turnover between the two countries. The turnover of 500.000 USD in 2005 grew by several times within last years and reached 36,45 million USD in 2011, 25% more than that of 2010. While in the previous years the turnover consisted 99% in the exports of mainly various agricultural, food and pharmaceutical products from Argentina to Azerbaijan, in the past year, almost 30% of turnover was formed by exports of oil products from Azerbaijan.

Despite the fact that Azerbaijan is the biggest trade partner of Argentina in the South Caucasus, the level of economic relations between two countries does not correspond to their real potential. In addition, our observations show that the major part of trade between Azerbaijan and Argentina is realized via third countries, which is not included in their trade balance. The establishment of direct economic ties between the two countries can increase the current trade turnover at least several times.

Our analyses show that the two countries have mutually complementary economies. Azerbaijan can export to Argentina energy, oil and chemical products, fertilizers for agriculture and from Argentina to Azerbaijan can be exported agricultural technologies, as well as technologies for food production, winery, pharmaceuticals, capital goods for oil and gas, and petrochemical industries, cereals (grain, soybean, corn, sunflower, etc.), food supply for animal-breeding and poultry farming, pharmaceutical products and etc. In addition, establishment of direct economic-trade links can give an opportunity for Argentine companies to get access to the markets of Caspian basin and Central Asia via Azerbaijan and vice versa for Azerbaijani companies to South American markets via Argentina.

During the past year the Embassy worked on establishing initial contacts between the relevant official authorities and business circles of two countries, arranging visits and building legal framework on economy. These were followed by presentations at different entrepreneurial institutes of Argentina and articles in local press about dynamics of economic grow of our country and potentials of bilateral economic cooperation.

Currently, we are working to put together mutual visits of business delegations and business forums headed by state authorities of both countries.

How available are the Argentine universities for Azerbaijani students? What has been done to help Azerbaijani citizens study in Argentina?

First of all, we’ve studied and made list of leading universities, reputable majors, conditions for international students and worked out appropriate proposals. Argentina is one of the countries of Latin America with high standards of education. Long history, high quality and affordability of education in Argentina every year attract more international students. Agriculture, veterinary, architecture, medicine, Latin American studies, Spanish language and literature are the advanced majors, each of which is also priority for our country.

The intergovernmental agreement between two countries on education is under consideration and its signing will also facilitate student exchange programs. Furthermore, last year the Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the National Diplomatic Institute of the Foreign Ministry of the Argentine Republic. Worth to mention that there is already an Argentine student studying for Masters Degree at ADA, which may be considered as a first successful exchange.

Meanwhile, the Embassy also paid attention to the cooperation in sciences. Over one year period the following papers were signed - the Agreement of Cooperation on Education and Technologies between the National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan (NASA) and Argentine CONICET, the Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation on education and technologies between NASA and the Ministry of science, technologies and productive innovations of Argentina, the Agreement on Cooperation and Scientific exchange between Centre for Strategic Studies under the President of Azerbaijan Republic (SSC) and Argentine CARI. These documents will facilitate the joint researches in the areas of common interest.  

Obviously, the Embassy will keep establishing direct contacts between the relevant academic and research centers and bring about cooperation programs between the two countries.

Which projects will be carried out in the near future for the extension of bilateral cooperation?

As I mentioned previously, there are wide perspectives for economic cooperation. In this context, is of high importance the signing of the intergovernmental agreement between two countries on economic and trade cooperation, the draft of which is under consideration. This agreement also stipulates the establishment of intergovernmental economic commission.

Another interesting area for the extension of cooperation can be the mutual international development projects. Thanks to successful economic development Azerbaijan has turned into a donor country for this kind of projects. Argentina also is a country with long historical experience and “know-how” in South America. The respective collaboration can lead to further strengthening of both countries´ images in the world and to the development of our relations. For this purpose, the signing of the intergovernmental agreement on technical cooperation between two countries, the draft of which is also under revision, will be an important base.

The draft of intergovernmental agreement on culture is also being considered at the moment. It has already been announced by our Ministry of Culture and Tourism that Azerbaijani Cultural Days will be held in Argentina in 2013 and this event will be important for the promotion of our rich culture and traditions in Argentina. As we know, Argentina is well known with its tango, which is an important part of this country’s social life. I think a tango school in Azerbaijan with the help of Argentine instructors can be very useful for the promotion of Argentine culture in our country. Of course, these things will bring two nations closer.

Something else of potential interest is football - Argentina surely is a country of football and there are many famous football schools here. Therefore, importing their know-how and experience can be very useful for the development of Azerbaijani child football. Currently the intergovernmental agreement on sports is being considered and the signing will open broad perspectives for the collaboration. As you may now, the name of the host city for Summer Olympics of 2020 will be announced in Buenos Aires in 2013 and Baku is a candidate city. So this case also will be very helpful for presenting Azerbaijan in Argentina as a country of sports and demonstrating the importance that our country attaches to it.

Besides, the drafts of the agreements on communication and information technologies, tourism, taxes, justice, press, cooperation between cities are being discussed currently and once they are signed they will further enhance our relations.

Which official visits are expected during the current year?

As we know, on February 11, Minister of Tourism of the Argentina visited Azerbaijan, during which was held extensive discussions on collaboration on tourism. The Argentine side, aware of increased living standards of our citizens due to economic growth, is interested in attracting Azerbaijani tourists. Meantime, the Embassy promotes Azerbaijan as an interesting tourist destination for Argentineans who usually travel long distances.
About other visits, as already announced, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship of Argentina Mr. Hector Timerman is visiting Baku on March 2. It is going to be the first visit of the Argentine Foreign Minister to Azerbaijan and it is a sign of attention and the interest of Argentina in Azerbaijan. I am convinced that this visit will open up wide possibilities for amplifying our relations.

Meanwhile, we are also working on several other mutual visits.

As we know, the first Embassy of Azerbaijan in South America was established specifically in Argentina, which signals about the importance that Azerbaijan attaches to this country. On its turn, Argentina also highly values our intention and the currently observed intensification in our relations is a good sample of it. I am confident that the upcoming years will be remembered with significant events in enhancing our relations and these geographically distant countries – Azerbaijan and Argentina will become close partners. This is our main goal.




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