Baku, Azerbaijan, July 23
By Leman Zeynalova – Trend:
The agreements signed during the visit of Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev to France show that Azerbaijan is open for business, Rob Sobhani, director general of the Caspian Group Holdings, told Trend.
He was commenting on signing of more than $2 billion worth agreements between Azerbaijani and French companies during the recent visit of President Aliyev to Paris.
The most important aspect of Azerbaijan's economy is its stability and protection of foreign investments, said the US expert.
Sobhani believes that transfers of technology and know-how from French companies (and American companies) is important to the long-term economic growth of Azerbaijan.
“Any investment by a major foreign company into the economy of Azerbaijan will benefit the people of Azerbaijan. First, it creates jobs for the citizens of Azerbaijan. For example, when a French company expands its operations in Azerbaijan it means it needs to hire local staff. This benefits the economy. Second, an investment in Azerbaijan's oil and gas sector means more revenues in the future for the budget of the Azerbaijan government which means in turn it can invest either in the State Oil Fund or expand loans for local business -- small and medium size,” he said.
Sobhani went on to add that any investment by French companies such as Suez in the environmental sector of Azerbaijan benefits the health of the citizens of Azerbaijan. Better water delivery systems, cleaner water in homes, usable lakes for family recreation and using waster to create electricity are all areas of expertise of French companies that can benefit the citizens of Azerbaijan, he said.
Sobhani noted that not too long ago, BP signed an extension to its production sharing agreement with Azerbaijan’s SOCAR which demonstrates the confidence major foreign companies have in Azerbaijan.
“In addition, the shocks that other counties face due to globalization have not impacted Azerbaijan as much, thus making it an ideal place to invest. And finally, foreign investors can expect to repatriate their profits with no difficulty from Azerbaijan, This is in sharp contrast to some Azerbaijan's neighbors and even countries in Europe and Asia,” he said.
“Under the leadership of President Aliyev, Azerbaijan's message to the outside world is clear: we are open for business,” said Sobhani.
As for France’s role in the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, he said that President Macron has taken a more activist approach to foreign policy and it is clear that he would like to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in a fair manner that brings justice for the people of Azerbaijan.
“In view of President Macron's good relations with President Trump and President Putin, he can play a key role in resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. In addition, the recent events in Armenia indicate that the people of Armenia are also ready to come out of their isolation and realize the economic benefits of a peace deal with Azerbaijan,” he noted.
Sobhani also spoke about the role of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation led by Azerbaijan’s First Vice-President Mehriban Aliyeva in terms of developing the relations between Azerbaijan and France in the humanitarian sphere, Sobhani said that Mehriban Aliyeva is the "First Lady of Charity" as well as being the "First Lady of Culture".
“As such, local charities in Azerbaijan and in the United States have been beneficiaries of her heart and donations from the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. France of course is a country with a rich historic heritage and the French are very proud of this heritage. Therefore I am sure the people of France welcome the efforts of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation in the area of repairs for historic buildings. Preserving the past is a gift to the future generations. Mehriban Aliyeva knows this truth and the people of Azerbaijan and French are lucky that she is leading the efforts to preserve humanity's common culture,” he added.
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