Azerbaijan, Baku, June 2 / Trend, S.Agayeva /
Trend Interviews Azerbaijan's Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary ambassador in India Tamerlan Garayev
Trend: Mr, Tamerlan, how do you assess the current state of bilateral relations and what are the main priorities of your activity in India?
Tamerlan Garayev: Bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and India have been established after the proclamation of Azerbaijan's independence and recognition of our country's independence by India. First India opened its embassy in Azerbaijan, with residence in Ankara, and later - in Baku. The Azerbaijani diplomatic mission in India was opened in 1994, and I am the first ambassador of Azerbaijan to this country.
Since this period, our relations have developed rapidly in various fields.
At present, the relations between Azerbaijan and India are under very intensive development.
Q: What is the level of trade and economic relations between our countries? What is India ready to offer Azerbaijan as a trade, and economic partner?
A: Before the opening of our embassy in India, trade balance between the two countries remained at half a million dollars - the figure is insignificant and did not meet the existing economic potential. Every year, economic relations have developed. Already in 1997 we achieved trade turnover in the amount of one million dollars, in 1998 - two million, in 1999 - more than four million, in 2000 - more than 12 million, in 2001 - about 16 million, in 2002 - 21 million, and in 2003 - 35 million dollars.
The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline's role should be highlighted in increase of the amount of trade between the two countries: the Indian companies have started to buy Azerbaijani oil in Ceyhan. As a result of 2008-2009, the trade turnover between the two countries reached nearly two billion dollars. Export of Azerbaijani goods to India increased, while imports have not yet undergone significant changes. Commercial and economic relations are developing unilaterally.
In general, Azerbaijan buys India's bauxite, pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs, textile products.
In 2009, the first meeting of the intergovernmental commission on trade and economic cooperation was held. Co-chairman of the Commission from the Azerbaijani side is the Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources Huseyngulu Bagirov. The delegation was represented at the level of deputy ministers of various departments of Azerbaijan. The meeting was successful, perhaps next meeting will be held in Baku. Activity of the Commission will certainly have a positive impact on the further development of the trade and economic relations.
Q: Is the Azerbaijani business represented in India?
A: Azerbaijan business in India is hardly represented, there were some attempts by the Azerbaijani companies, but they were unsuccessful. The fact is that the development of foreign business in India is difficult because of local laws.
Q: How do you think, are there any favorable condition for cooperation between the two countries in the political sphere, particularly in addressing the main problem of Azerbaijan - Nagorno-Karabakh conflict? What is opinion of Delhi regarding resolving of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?
A: The Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict of course is the priority for any embassy, in particular for Azerbaijan's embassy.
We need the Indian side to understand that our country has been subjected to aggression and its territories are under occupation, the Nagorno-Karabakh is an integral part of Azerbaijan, and our main demand is the withdrawal of Armenian forces from the occupied territories.
The Indian side understands the situation. India supports the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, considers the Nagorno Karabakh as part of the country and calls to resolve the conflict peacefully.
Sad moment was observed in our relations, when India voted against the resolution during discussion of the UN General Assembly's resolution "On the situation in Azerbaijan's occupied territories", initiated by Azerbaijan in March 2008.
This caused serious concern of the Azerbaijani side. Immediately, I, as the ambassador, spoke to the press in India. Through the media outlets of India I asked the country's official bodies: Is there the fact that that India supports separatism and doesn't support the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan? The Indian side's reply did not take long: the Foreign Ministry said that India does not consider the vote as a rejection of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and supports the expansion of contacts with the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan and India have good political relations. Deputy Foreign Ministers Khalaf Khalafov and Vagif Sadikhov paid a visit to Delhi, who held a number of successful talks. This year, representative of the Foreign Minister of India will pay a return visit to Baku, and early next year, I hope, the Milli Mejlis delegation's visit to Delhi will be realized
Q: You are also Azerbaijan's ambassador to Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Do these countries support Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict? What is the level of Azerbaijan's relations with these countries?
A: Of course, we are actively working with these countries, I often visit them. In international organizations, these countries have never been against Azerbaijan's interests, they demonstrated maximum neutrality, I mean Sri Lanka and Nepal.
Regarding Bangladesh and the Maldives, they support Azerbaijan and all our initiatives. Our relations are developing successfully.