Editor's Note: Ambassador's words and contextual information were added after the sixth paragraph
Azerbaijan, Baku, Oct. 21 / Trend E. Ostapenko /
The development and implementation of the EU program 'Eastern Partnership' is constantly in the spotlight of the concerned people, including those in the parliament, said Radek Matula, Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Azerbaijan, in an interview with Trend on the eve of Independence Day of the Czech Republic, celebrated on October 28.
"The talks (between Czech and Azerbaijani parliamentary delegations in September) focused on the EU initiative "Eastern Partnership" supported by the Czech Republic from the first moment, as a tool to assist Azerbaijan in its efforts to broaden and intensify its relations with the European Union," he said.
A delegation of the Committee on European Affairs of the Senate (upper house) of the Czech Parliament headed by chairman Ludek Sefzig visited Baku in September. Czech and Azerbaijani parliamentarians exchanged experience, discussed issues concerning the EU program 'Eastern Partnership', European integration, energy projects, visa and migration.
'Eastern Partnership' project focuses on political and economic rapprochement between the European Union and the six post-Soviet countries, including Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus.
The program does not provide opportunities for the EU membership. But it involves facilitating the visa regime, energy cooperation, the introduction of free trade zones. Small projects on student exchange, environmental protection and energy supply will be realized.
The ambassador said that the positions of both sides on certain aspects and areas of the Eastern Partnership, prospects to exchange and deliver Czech know-how to Azerbaijan to unify different standards and legislation with the EU.
"I am confident that these meetings will promote further development of the inter-parliamentary ties between the Czech Republic and Azerbaijan both as bilateral and multilateral levels," he said.
Azerbaijan and the Czech Republic signed an agreement on economic, scientific-technical and cultural cooperation in October last year. The work is being conducted to establish a joint commission to realize cooperation in the above-mentioned areas.
"The project is almost ready. It is necessary to formally appoint co-chairmen of the commission from both parties, to determine the members of the commission and to agree on the date of the first meeting, during which the position about the joint commission will be adopted", ambassador said, stressing that the work can be completed by late 2010.
It is very important for such countries as the Czech Republic to have diversified energy resources and ways to deliver them to its territory, ambassador said.
"So, the Czech Republic, during its presidency in the EU, tried to do everything for the project of the Southern Energy Corridor to be implemented," he said.
The Southern Energy Corridor includes construction of several gas pipelines, including "Nabucco", ITGI and TAP. It will increase the export of Caspian gas and diversify sources of this fuel supply to the EU countries. Ambassador is sure of the reality of the project and the indispensable role of Azerbaijan in it.
The construction of Nabucco gas pipeline worth 7.9 billion euros is scheduled for 2012. The first supplies via the gas pipeline with maximal capacity of 31 billion cubic meters per year will be expected in 2015. The gas pipeline aims to supply gas from Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Iraq. The planned capacity of the gas pipeline Interconnector Turkey-Greece-Italy (ITGI) is 11.8 billion cubic meters annually, of which 3.6 billion cubic meters will be received by Greece and the rest part - Italy.
Joint economic projects
The Czech company Destila Brno officially opened the Baki-Praqa Brewery in the Novkhani settlement outside Baku in June. Ambassador called the opening and activity of the brewery a good example of cooperation.
"Over the last three weeks I visited the brewery twice, Matula said. Of course, I tasted the beer and was satisfied with the taste.
The Czech technologies, recipes and malt, hops, etc. supplied from the Czech Republic are used while making Czech beer Plzeò type. The Czech company PALI Chotěboř delivered equipment for bottling beer.
The Baki-Praqa Brewery was presented at the "Caspian Agro" exhibition recently held in Baku. The drink and brewery operating on the Czech technologies caused great interest among visitors, ambassador said.
"I am sure that the Czech companies will gradually hold a worthy place in Azerbaijan, both in the capital and regions", Matula said.
He said that the Czech companies and entrepreneurs have much to offer to Azerbaijani partners.
Besides traditional industries and products, including vehicles, construction and engineering equipment, glass, beer, there are opportunities for cooperation in the field of processing of agricultural products, ambassador said.
"It may deal with the opening of joint ventures or the integrated supply of technologies or turnkey plants. For example, tinned food factories, packing lines, breweries," ambassador said, noting that the Czech companies have good experience in all these industries.
The Czech-Azerbaijani business forum organized by the Caspian-European Integration Business Club (CEIBC), the Czech embassy in Baku and the Czech Chamber of Economic Cooperation with CIS countries will be held on the eve of Independence Day in Baku on October 27.
Matula expressed hope that the Czech companies that will participate in this business forum will be able to find partners for mutually beneficial cooperation.
Independence Day of the Czech Republic
The Czech Republic marks the Day of Republic on October 28 - the date of formation of independent Czechoslovakia after World War I in 1918. Political changes have led to a further partition of Czechoslovakia and formation of the independent Czech Republic in January 1993. However, the Czech Republic today considers itself the heir of history and traditions of the former united nation. October 28 is considered one of the most important days in the history of the country. It is widely celebrated by Czechs.
The activities, including concerts, exhibitions, festivities, celebrations, demonstration of military equipment, military parades, etc. are organized at different levels on the occasion of national holiday, he said.
Public figures, representatives of different spheres of the country, foreign ambassadors gather at the festivity organized in the Prague Castle in the evening.
The president of the republic confers state medals on war veterans, prominent representatives of Czech science, culture, sports, etc.
This event will be marked by a celebratory banquet in Baku. Besides the business forum which will be also timed to the Independence Day, cultural activities are also planned to be held, he said.
A meeting will be held with Azerbaijani children, who participated in the annual international children's art exhibition in Lidice, at the Embassy of the Czech Republic on Oct. 29. This exhibition was founded in 1967 to commemorate the children - residents of the Czech village of Lidice who were killed during World War II and all children who died in military conflicts.