Trend interviews Indian Ambassador to Azerbaijan Debnat Show
Azerbaijan, Baku, Jan. 25 / Trend SAgayeva /
Trend : Mr. Ambassador, what is your estimation of the current level of bilateral relations between India and Azerbaijan. What are the major priorities of your activities in the country?
Show: The current level of bilateral relations unfortunately does not correspond with the existing potential. Over the past few years, namely after 2007, there was decline in bilateral relations. There were no official visit or contacts. We decided to change the situation.
Last year New Dehli hosted the fist meeting of an intergovernmental commission on trade and economic, scientific and technical cooperation between Azerbaijan and India. The co-chair of the intergovernmental commission from Azerbaijan is Ecology and Natural Resources Minister Huseyngulu Bagirov. The commission includes representatives from different ministries and departments in Azerbaijan.
Such meetings contribute in the development of bilateral ties in the fields of trade, economy, tourism, and culture.
Cooperation between our two countries in the economic field has intensified in recent years.
Since India has launched oil imports from Azerbaijan, our trade relations have developed. Despite the global financial crisis in 2009, stability was observed in our trade and economic relations. Regular visits by businessmen from both our countries testifies to this fact.
This year we, as an embassy, initiated expanding bilateral ties, and the results will be seen in subsequent years.
Q: What is the level of trade and economic relations between our two countries? What could India offer Azerbaijan as a trade and economic partner?.
A: Trade relations between out countries considering our geographical position are realized via other countries. We purchase chemical products from Azerbaijan, including iodine.
In the near future, Azerbaijan will build a new plant to produce chemical products, which India is hoping to import.
Presently, India exports to Azerbaijan tea, medical supplies, textiles, and meat. The list is still growing. India has also supplied Azerbaijan with manufacturing equipment and electric appliances.
India and Azerbaijan can successfully cooperate in the IT sector. Several India companies are now involved in creating software solutions for Azerbaijani banks.
India is also interested in Azerbaijan's experience in the development of the oil and gas sector. Even in the 1950s-1960s, Azerbaijani engineers took part in the exploration of India's oil and gas resources. I believe we will be able to continue successful cooperation in this field in the future.
In 2005-2006, goods turnover between Azerbaijan and India was low. Since 2006, growth has been observed. For instance, goods turnover in the oil sector has reached $100 million per year.
After the exploitation of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline in 2006, India began importing Azeri Light oil. Indian imports were $2 billion in 2008, and the Azerbaijani State Statistics Committee reported that year that India was fourth among the country's trade partners.
A definite decline was observed in the goods turnover between our countries last year. Indian companies are presently implementing plans to purchase Azerbaijani oil on the basis of long-term contracts, which will have a positive impact on the amount of our goods turnover.
Q: Is Azerbaijani business represented in India?
A: I cannot say that Azerbaijani business operates in India directly. Basically, this is done through the local Azerbaijani embassy. However, the number of the Azerbaijani citizens who have received a business visa to India has increased. One Azerbaijani company has opened a representative office engaged in dairy production in India.
Azerbaijani businessmen should get more familiar with the Indian market.
Q: You have proven yourself as a very active person from the early days of your activity in Azerbaijan. Of course, you also have future plans. Can you tell uus about them?
A: From the first days of my activities in Azerbaijan, I tried to revive the old projects, which previously had been agreed upon, but which, for some reason, had not materialized. For example, an intergovernmental commission on trade-economic and scientific-technical cooperation was established in 2007, but no meetings were held. We managed to hold its first meeting last year.
I regard the development of political dialogue as a second activity. Last year, we were able to organize political consultations. There are areas in which cooperation depends on the availability of the legal framework between the two countries. We have already begun work on expanding the legal framework.
Presently, work on two draft agreements on consultations between the foreign ministries of both our countries and the activities of the intergovernmental commission are underway.
Draft agreements on consular activities and the provision of legal assistance to the citizens of our countries in the territory of Azerbaijan and India is also under development.
Regarding the economic sphere, we are developing a draft agreement on the avoidance of double taxation, which is already nearing completion.
We also plan to develop cooperation in such fields as tourism, agriculture, education and others. Recently, the Azerbaijani State University of Languages opened the Indian Language Center. We are working to facilitate cooperation between our respective centers for strategic studies.
In 2009, our countries significantly stepped up cooperation in the cultural sphere. A dance troupe from India visited Azerbaijan and an Indian singer participated in the world Mugam festival.
We have great plans and we hope to implement them.
Q: How do you think, are there favorable conditions for cooperation between the two countries in the political sphere, particularly, in solving Azerbaijan's main problem - the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict? What does Delhi think about the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?
A: India supports the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and this position remains unchanged. India has repeatedly presented its position at the international level.
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