President Aliyev: Azerbaijani-French relations to develop progressively in future (UPDATE)

details added (the first version posted at 15:22)

Baku, Azerbaijan, May 12

By Seymur Aliyev - Trend:

The relations between Azerbaijan and France will develop progressively in the future, President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev said while speaking at the Azerbaijani-French business forum with participation of French President Francois Hollande.

The forum was held in Baku today, on May 12.

President Aliyev went on to add that political and economic relations between the two countries will be stronger, adding that the negotiations held between the two countries, exchange of views, as well as sincere conversations help to increase the confidence.

"Undoubtedly, the French president's official visit to Azerbaijan is a very momentous event in the bilateral relations. This visit will give a very strong impetus to the development of relations," the Azerbaijani president said.

President Aliyev went on to add that the business people of Azerbaijan and France hold talks, negotiations and exchange of views within the business forum.

"And of course, the joint activity of the business structures and the development of trade relations will give a strong support to the overall development of our relations," President Aliyev said.

"The views on various topics and consultations have been recently and today exchanged," the president stressed. "The specific instructions were given in connection with the development of future relations between Azerbaijan and France."

"The documents that have been signed and will be signed today serve to the development of various aspects of our cooperation," the president said. "Our political relations are at a very high level. Of course, the business circles are well-aware about this, because there is a favorable sphere for business in the countries where political relations are at a high level. The appropriate actions will be still taken for the development of our political relations. In short, our relations are versatile and cover many areas. There are specific programs for each area. The documents have been signed. This will allow us to develop the French-Azerbaijani relations multilaterally. This creates new opportunities for bilateral relations, opens new horizons for regional cooperation. At the same time, the French-Azerbaijani relations play a very important role for the development of Europe-Azerbaijan relations as France is the leading country in Europe. Of course, it has a special place and plays a special role in the development of relations between Azerbaijan and the EU."

"As for the economic sphere, Azerbaijan is France's major trading partner in the South Caucasus," he said. "Our trade turnover is close to $2 billion. This figure will more increase as a result of the reached agreements and contracts to be signed. Of course, we are not fully satisfied with the reached progress. I believe that the current trade turnover volume is a good start. There are specific opportunities and joint political will for its growth. There are over 50 French companies operating as investors and contractors in Azerbaijan. We invite French companies to invest in Azerbaijan and participate in our projects as contractors."

"The French companies actively participated in many projects important for Azerbaijan, demonstrating the high level of professionalism," he said.

"They have a great reputation," he said. "Their implemented projects serve to the diversification of Azerbaijan's economy. I hope that the relations between our businessmen will rise to an even higher level following the business forum. It is still much to be done in Azerbaijan."

"The infrastructure projects are a priority for us," the president said. "At the same time, our country has an excellent investment sphere. Azerbaijan ranks first in the amount of foreign direct investment in the post-Soviet area. Some $150 billion has been invested in the country's economy for the last ten years. More than $ 25 billion was invested in 2013. Some 30 percent of them fall to the foreign investments. It is encouraging that foreign companies invest not only in the oil and gas sector, but in the non-oil sector. That is, there is a great belief in Azerbaijan's long-term successful development. This belief is not unreasonable, because the recent actions in the economic sphere, and, in general, in connection with the development of the country, led to the concrete results. The citizens and population of Azerbaijan see the benefits of independence in everyday life."

"Azerbaijan needs the experience of French companies," he said. "I am confident we will successfully cooperate together in various fields in the coming years. I would like to mention the transport sector among the priorities. I know that new contracts are expected to be signed in the transport sector. France's world-class experience in this area is significant for all."

"At present, Azerbaijan is engaged in the development of space industry," he said. "The Azerbaijani first satellite Azerspace-1 was put into orbit in 2013. Arianespace company pleased us greatly. We will work together in the space industry in the coming years. I think that France must be the number one partner of Azerbaijan in this area."

"The French companies are involved in various construction projects," he said. "The agenda includes the issues relating to agriculture, especially, wine growing sector recovery, as well as tourism. In short, we invite French companies to operate in Azerbaijan as investors and contractors in an even greater extent. Thus, I am sure that our relations will rise to an even higher level in the coming years."

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