Honorary consul: Azerbaijan – important partner of Germany (INTERVIEW)

Germany, Berlin, August 27 /Trend, O.Sattarov/

Trend interviews Honorary Consul of Azerbaijan in Stuttgart, Otto Hauser.

Trend: Mr. Hauser, since 2006 You have been the chairman of the German-Azerbaijani Forum in Berlin, and in April this year You were appointed as Honorary Consul of Azerbaijan in Stuttgart. Tell us a bit about the history of your relationship with Azerbaijan.

Hauser: Many years ago I was asked about Azerbaijan. Telling that this country, selling its oil and gas, makes a lot of money, which would invest in the development of its own infrastructure, I was asked whether the Germans, particularly Baden-Wurttemberg represented by me, would like to be involved in this process. So my relationship with Azerbaijan in principle bandaged them.

Naturally, the old traditions of relationship of Baden-Wuerttemberg with your country played its role in all these: 190 years ago Germans from Baden-Württemberg arrived in Azerbaijan and founded cities such as Elenendorf and Annefeld (now Goygol and Shamkir).
I assumed the chairmanship to the German-Azerbaijani Forum in Berlin. This forum is a non-governmental organization - is a private initiative, which has three goals: the development of political, economic and cultural ties.

Azerbaijan charmed me, as a former politician. Arriving here for the first time in 2005, I met a lot of nice people. I felt the local hospitality. I appeared curiosity what this country hides in itself? A country so far away from Germany. The country, which Germany did not notice and did not perceive as such, because it was part of the former USSR. And then its transformation into an independent and sovereign republic with its own government, patriotism among its people - all these extremely impressed me and I decided that I will work hard to make sure that Azerbaijan is understood in Germany.

Q: Tell us a little about the work of the consulate - the difference of your activities from the activities of the embassy in Berlin. What are your duties?

A: Our consulate in Stuttgart and the embassy in Berlin supplement each other. Naturally, being the consulate, we solve the consular matters such as issuing visas etc. This is purely formal aspects, and in truth, not my path. I am mostly trying to strengthen economic ties between the land of Baden-Wuerttemberg, the south-west of Germany and a whole Azerbaijan. Baden-Wuerttemberg has 11 million inhabitants and is the strongest land in Germany from the economic point of view with a powerful industry and innovative technologies.

But the cooperation is not limited to the economy, great attention is paid to education. I met with the Azerbaijani Minister of Education Misir Mardanov and we discussed the German system of vocational education and prospects for its implementation in Azerbaijan. You know the German system is based on the principle of dualism. It is that along with theoretical education at school, student gets training with the teaching enterprise. This system of education in our country, especially in Baden-Wuerttemberg, is a huge success. Countries such as China, South Africa, Ukraine, Georgia are displaying great interest in the educational system. Azerbaijan is also interested in it.

With the minister, we intensively discussed the topic and decided to establish working groups that would engage in establishing professional schools in Baku, Goygol or anywhere else. We must take into account the fact that when the German companies will come to Azerbaijan and are willing to begin production, they need skilled workforce. And if it will not be, there will be no investment. Work in this direction is very important for Azerbaijan.

There are practically no minerals in Germany. We do not have any oil, as well as gas. But we have qualified specialists. And a lot of money is invested in them.

Azerbaijan is rich with natural resources, but they are not limitless. The real capital is skilled workforce. And this requires investment. Cooperation with German universities, creating opportunities for young people from Azerbaijan to come for training and practice in Germany and vice versa is one of the important points of cooperation between Baden-Wurttemberg and Azerbaijan.

This cooperation is beginning to gradually develop and I must admit that though we are in the beginning, the work of the honorary consul gives me great pleasure, and yet I am encouraged.

Q: How do You think, what should be done to make Azerbaijan better known and recognizable in Germany? What work is being done by the consulate to create a positive image of our country in Germany?

A: The best opportunity to promote the image is cultural activities. I always say that culture is a charm of the country. Two years ago, Azerbaijan held a Year of Culture in Germany. It certainly was a good basis for further work.

When I was appointed honorary consul, and held the first cultural event in Stuttgart, it was attended by more than 300 people. Many people heard about Azerbaijan for the first time, but were so excited and so wanted to see Azerbaijan that it was the time to order their chartered flight to Baku.

Embassy in Berlin is also conducting very thorough work on this front. Azerbaijani ambassador to Germany Parviz Shahbazov has established an extensive network of acquaintances in the Bundestag and the government of Germany.

We also intend to work closely with journalists, holding meetings with them. A meeting of journalists of leading German newspapers and radio stations will be conducted at the Azerbaijani embassy in Germany. We also plan to invite them to Azerbaijan, so that they become acquainted with the country directly. It's an indisputable contribution to the positive coverage of Azerbaijan in the German media.

We should also remember the football - the match between "Karabakh" and "Borussia" last night or between national teams of Germany and Azerbaijan on 7 September in Cologne. These all are good possibilities, are necessary to use information about Azerbaijan in a positive light.

Q: Mr. Consul, how is it difficult to oppose the Armenian lobbying organizations in Germany?

A: I do not want to say that it is a heavy task. When you say that it is a heavy task, you give up. I'm not the man who gives up. Regardless of how the Armenian lobby organizations works, we must make clear that Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding districts were occupied contrary to all norms of international law, and this injustice must be specified. We, Germans, for many decades have been a divided country, and we emphasized at every opportunity that it is an injustice. And in case of Karabakh, we also need to explain this.
I would note that last year the German Bundestag adopted a resolution initiated by me, which touched upon the topic of Nagorno-Karabakh as well. Later the European Parliament also adopted it. And if the Armenian lobby organizations would be stronger than us, then we would not be able to make these resolutions adopted. But the reality is that we were able to do so.

I am one of those who always say: not "they are worse," but simply "we are better." I justify so. I have not tarnished the other to look at their background better, but simply to present their own advantages: Azerbaijan is diverse in its culture. Many Germans lived in Azerbaijan and achieved well-being and prosperity here. Azerbaijan is an important partner of Germany in the energy sector. These elements of politics, culture and economy are positive and they must be constantly presented, which is done by me and the ambassador of Azerbaijan.

Q: Mr. Hauser, tell us what You think about the near match between our teams and Your opinion about the national football team of Azerbaijan as a whole?

A: I have twice seen the game of Azerbaijani national team. Once in Baku last year and once in Hanover. I liked the game in Baku. And Berti Vogts is a great coach, whom I know personally. I see that the Azerbaijani national team has made great progress. In September, for sure, the game will be in favor of the German national team - it should not be forgotten that bundestim will play in its native walls. But I wish Azerbaijani team to demonstrate a good game in Cologne, which you can be proud of.

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