Azerbaijani ambassador: Our goal is to promote Azerbaijani realities in Argentina
Trend publishes an interview with Mammad Ahmadzada, Azerbaijani Ambassador to Argentina.
Question: How would you evaluate current relations between Azerbaijan and Argentina?
Mammad Ahmadzada: Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev's foreign policy strategy has defined Latin America as one of the priority regions and the relations with Argentina started to develop in mid-2000s. To that effect, Azerbaijani foreign minister Elmar Mammadyarov's official visit to Argentina marked a milestone in terms of discussing and defining directions of cooperation, also MoU on Visa-free movement regime for diplomatic and service passports, and cooperation between ministries of foreign affairs of the two countries were signed in this frame.
It is already a year that our embassy functions in Argentina and over this time span connections were initiated with government, parliament, political circles, think tanks and research centers, universities, media, provinces and businesses.
Last November saw the first official visit of Argentina's deputy foreign minister Alberto Pedro D'Alotto to Azerbaijan. The visit of Chairman of the Customs Committee of Azerbaijan, Aydin Aliyev, to Argentina in this February was followed by a visit of Head of Customos Office of Argentina Siamora Ayeran to Azerbaijan in June. During these visita the parties signed three documents on political consultations between foreign ministries, diplomatic academies and customs services of the two countries. Furthermore, Azerbaijani Prime Minister Artur Rasi-zade and Argentine Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship Hector Timerman met and discussed further steps of bilateral relations during the international conference on peaceful use of nuclear energy in Kiev this April. These visits and meetings were important in terms of extending the Azerbaijani-Argentine cooperation.
Q: What are the priorities of cooperation with Argentina?
A: The first in the list for the embassy is to push for tight political ties between the two countries. To this end, the embassy works hard to arrange mutual visits between ministries, parliaments and governments of cities and provinces. Over the last year, we have intensively worked on development of legal base and prepared numerous inter-ministerial and inter-governmental agreements. Today, the number of the draft documents in the phase of discussion is up to fifteen, some of them have already been agreed and the rest is in progress.
The second priority is the activities aimed at promoting the realities of Azerbaijan in Argentina. The embassy has organized many events and arranged numerous media coverage about long history, rich culture, history of independence of Azerbaijan, and achivements of this period, Armenia's aggression against our country and the truth about this conflict, role and policy of Azerbaijan as a regional leader. The embassy will continue this mission.
Third, of course, is to tighten economic relations. Our studies show that the two countries have complimentary economies. Especially, non-oil sector of Azerbaijan may be subject of great interest for Argentina. Equally, know-how and tecnologies of Argentina in agriculture would come handy for Azerbaijan. The embassy closely works with Argentine economic authorities and business circles and intends to arrange a business mission to Azerbaijan and launch Azerbaijan-Argentina business forum in the possible nearest future. We observe positive trends in trade turnover between the two countries that marked an increase by 15 times since 2005 totaling $30 billion in 2010. We think, it is possible at least to double this volume, also work out interesting trade and investment projects in agriculture, especially, live-stock, husbandry, winery, as well as, in food processing, pharmacology and alternative energy.
Of course, we also think about delivering our own products to Argentine markets to ensure balance in the trade turnover.
Our goal is to develop cooperation with Argentina in all fields and promote Azerbaijani realities.
Q: What about feasibility of opening Argentine embassy in Azerbaijan?
A: Now the Ambassador of Argentina in Turkey covers Azerbaijan. Argentina values Azerbaijan as a country with an important geopolitical location and wide economic opportunities in the cross-roads of Europe and Asia and the government is seriously considering launching an embassy in Azerbaijan. This intention of the Argentine government was stated by the Argentine deputy foreign minister during his visit to Azerbaijan last year and preparations are underway.
Q: In a country where Armenian lobby is very strong how you managed to deliver the realities of Karabakh?
A: The Argentine government has a clear position on this conflict. In 1992, Argentina supported territorial integrity of Azerbaijan in the protocol on establishing bilateral diplomatic relations. The same position was restated in the MoU on political consultations signed between the foreign offices of the two countries last year. Furthermore, Argentine deputy foreign minister Alberto Pedro D'Alotto during his visit to Azerbaijan emphasized that Argentina is for settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno Karabakh conflict in accordance with the UN resolutions and supports initiatives of the OSCE Minsk Group.
Providing the Argentine government, parliament, opinion leaders, research centers and public the constant information about history, the real myth and true picture on the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, current negotiations process and Azerbaijan's position on settlement of this conflict is one of the major directions of embassy's activities. To this end, many articles have been published, events were organized and lectures were given at the universities.
Q: What is the level of integration on cultural sphere between Azerbaijan and Argentina?
A: Integration issues, namely, culture, tourism, education and inter-cultural ties are in the agenda of the embassy as well. Last year, MoU was signed between Diplomatic Academy and National Foreign Service Institute of the ministries of foreign affairs of the two countries. Right now we are working on three more drafts on education, they are almost at the final stage.
Historically, universities of Argentina weighs more among the Latin American universities in terms of rating, quality of education and extensive international relations. Over the past year the embassy built good ties with many universities of Argentina and now we are working on student and faculty exchange projects. These projects may be instrumental in inter-cultural integration.
Promoting rich cultural heritage and tourism opportunities of Azerbaijan in Argentina is another main direction of activities of the embassy. To this effect, a couple of interesting events, namely, customs exhibition, a concert of Azerbaijani music and presentation of tourism sector were organized during the visit of Aydin Aliyev, Chairman of Customs Committee of Azerbaijan, to Argentina.
Furthermore, for the first time this year Azerbaijan took part in the International Book Fair of Buenos Aires, one of the biggest book and publication fair of the world and the embassy participated in the construction of the "Tower of Babil of Books", built on the occasion of Buenos Aires being named World Book Capital 2011 by UNESCO. Both of these projects gave us enormous opportunities to promote Azerbaijan.
More on this, we started to publish in Spanish IRS magazine under the name "IRS Herencia", which promotes history and culture of Azerbaijan, and presentation of the first issue "Azerbaijan - land of magic voices" was made during the International Book Fair of Buenos Aires. This magazine enjoyed great interest of Argentine public. We are planning regular publication and distribution of the magazine to spanish-speaking countries.
We also are working on arranging Cultural Days of Azerbaijan in a pretty large-scale and the embassy receives support from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan.
In the meantime, the embassy works on building close ties between cultural and tourism authorities of the two countries, especially, signing relevant documents. I suppose we'll be able to have those documents signed during the cultural days mentioned above.
Q: What are the possibilities of high-level visits from Argentina to Azerbaijan?
Q: Now we are working with diffirent ministries, government bodies and the parliament on numerous high-level visits. I hope, we'll be able to nail down those visits soon.