Baku, Azerbaijan, Sept. 19
By Elmira Tariverdiyeva - Trend:
Trend Agency's interview with the Ambassador of Lithuania to Azerbaijan Valdas Lastauskas.
Q: What will be your first steps as a new ambassador of Lithuania to Azerbaijan? What will you emphasize in the development of bilateral relations? What the spheres, in your opinion, have the greatest potential for bilateral cooperation?
A: First of all I'd like to underscore that there will not be any changes in the policy of the Lithuanian Embassy in Azerbaijan, as the policy of Lithuania's foreign ministry and the government in cooperation with foreign states has been defined, and it is a good cooperation with all the neighbors.
The economic relations between Azerbaijan and Lithuania can be brought as an example of such cooperation.
When the Lithuanian Embassy was just opened in Azerbaijan, the import and export between the two countries were standing at the minimal level, while today, these figures are up by several hundred percent. However, both countries need to develop bilateral relations and explore mutual potential.
My primary task is to learn more about Azerbaijan, how we can be helpful to each other, as well as to realize this within specific projects.
The two countries are in a constant contact in various fields, and hold political consultations. For example, in October this year the city of Shamkir will host a meeting of the intergovernmental commission. This means we will see how we can improve bilateral cooperation taking regions as an example.
Shamkir will also host a business forum, and representatives of business circles of Lithuania will arrive in Azerbaijan to participate in it. The two countries can learn many things from each other in the fields of culture, education and sports.
Right now, there are such projects. Specifically, groups from Azerbaijan are participating in many festivals and folklore projects in Lithuania. Lithuania and Azerbaijan have a lot in common. In particular, some architectural structures were built in both countries by the Polish and Lithuanian architects.
Q: What can you say about the plans to bring Lithuanian companies to Azerbaijan?
A: Today one can often see Lithuanian dairy products in Azerbaijan, but probably few people know that Lithuania is realizing strong projects in the IT and transport sectors, as the country is located at the geographical crossroad of north and south, east and west.
Few people know that Lithuania is developing biotechnologies, known throughout the world, for instance, the technology for fast cleaning of the environment after oil spills and man-made disasters.
Only experts know that laser technologies, which are used in everyday things surrounding people, are widely developed exactly in Lithuania. Lithuania's experience could be useful in the fields of designing, construction and services. Azerbaijan with its highly qualified specialists can help us in some areas. This exchange of experience can prompt our countries to implement certain joint projects.
Q: The two countries still do not have a direct flight This greatly complicates the development of tourism. What measures are being taken in this direction?
A: The clinics in the Druskininkai resort, as well as on the coast of the Baltic Sea in Palanga town are very popular among tourists, including tourists from Azerbaijan.
Of course, the visa regime is a small barrier for the development of tourism, however we always try to use the technical capabilities of all responsible people to provide help.
The issue of making direct flights between Lithuania and Azerbaijan is of great importance, as today, people do not want to spend a lot of time flying. Unfortunately, currently no project has been realized on establishing a direct flight. However, our embassy and colleagues from Azerbaijan are working to resolve this issue. This would help to further expand tourism between the two countries. There is also a lot to see in both countries, and not having a direct flight complicates mutual visits.
Q: Azerbaijan has rich experience in the oil and gas sector, and is actively developing oil production projects onshore and offshore. What cooperation prospects do you see between Azerbaijan and Lithuania in this sphere?
A: Of course, Azerbaijan's resources contribute to the strengthening of the country's independence.
After gaining independence, Lithuania had difficulties with the supply of energy resources. For example, we depended on a single supplier of natural gas, namely, Gazprom company, till 2014 and we were connected to a single power distribution network from the East.
However, Lithuania will open a LNG terminal in Klaipeda city sea port this year. Even prior to being opened, it helped to agree on new prices with some suppliers. This became possible thanks to the Third Energy Package (TEP) and Lithuania was one of the first countries which introduced it.
Today Lithuania is waiting for the opening of inter-connectors with other European countries. A pipeline between Lithuania and Poland, which will supply gas, will be commissioned in two years. A transmission line between Lithuania and Sweden will be put into operation in 2015.
All these projects will allow purchasing energy resources at market prices. In this context, Lithuania sees excellent prospects for cooperation with Azerbaijan, which decided to diversify its supplies.
Both countries can cooperate in the implementation of the shale gas production projects, in which both Lithuania and Azerbaijan are interested.