Baroness Nicholson: UK, Azerbaijan can work closely on all areas to mutual benefit (Interview)
BAKU, Azerbaijan, May 20
By Leman Zeynalova - Trend:
Trend's exclusive interview with UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy, Baroness Emma Nicholson
Question: How has the COVID – 19 Pandemic affected the UK-Azerbaijan trade turnover since the closure of borders?
Answer: The UK-Azerbaijan trade and investment partnership remains strong, in particular the UK’s continued commitment to Azerbaijan’s energy sector and wider economy, with BP continuing to invest in new exploration and development activities during this difficult time.
With Azerbaijan Airlines’ scheduled flights expected to resume at the earliest opportunity, we are looking forward to travelling to Azerbaijan once again, as well as receiving the large number of Azerbaijani students that study in the UK each year, to take up their school and university placements.
During this time, it remains of paramount importance that our two countries continue to explore opportunities in all sectors, not only oil and gas, but also Healthcare, Agriculture, Tourism, Education and Retail, among others. I, together with the British Embassy in Baku, stand ready to help in any way I can to support this and look forward to furthering some of these initiatives in the near future.
Q.: How should the two countries offset their losses if any?
A.: There has never been a more critical and challenging time for the international community to work together to respond to the deep global health and economic crisis.
Such a response includes working together to minimise economic disruption through the development of new sectors, encouragement of further creative thinking and the introduction of improved and more cost-effective methods of working.
This includes a continued focus on environmental issues, improvement in primary healthcare care infrastructure and personnel, more support for the disadvantaged, particularly in areas such agriculture and education, the digitalisation of various industries and the encouragement of more collaborative research and development.
Together, the UK and Azerbaijan can work closely on all these areas to our mutual benefit.
Q.: What are the lessons learned from the outbreak of this disease, which came out to be a test for the world infrastructure? How should UK and Azerbaijan arrange their communications so as to get out of such situations with minimal losses?
A.: The coronavirus pandemic demonstrated that disease outbreaks do not respect borders, therefore we need a fully coordinated international response. It is only by working together that we will prevent future waves of infection and end this pandemic as quickly as possible.
So, I’m proud that the UK is taking a leading role globally, and has committed up to £744 million (AZN 1.5bn) for the international response to coronavirus, including our pledge of £388 million (AZN 800mn) for the vital research and development of vaccines, treatments and tests.
In addition, the UK will be hosting the Global Vaccine Summit in June, which will focus on how we continue to ensure Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, has the funds needed to deliver vaccines against diseases in the world’s poorest countries, and how we ensure fair access for all new coronavirus vaccines.
Azerbaijan’s support for the global effort, such as your financial contributions to the World Health Organisation (WHO), is extremely welcome, and I hope that you will also support this vaccines initiative.
We’re also working closely with Azerbaijan on the health response in the country. Last month, together with the WHO, the UK co-funded the development of www.azercovid19.org, an online training platform enabling hospital personnel to access new training resources and interact with fellow professionals. This is helping medical staff quickly acquire the essential skills needed in the fight against coronavirus in Azerbaijan.
Q.: Many experts suggest that the world will not be the same during the post-pandemic period. How do you see the relations between UK and Azerbaijan during the post-pandemic period?
A.: Relations between our two countries are strong and will continue to grow. Just this month, the UK Deputy Foreign Minister Morton and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Mammadyarov discussed a number of key areas for cooperation in the coming months and years, including securing a UK-Azerbaijan bilateral agreement which will further strengthen the excellent ties between our two countries.
As hosts of COP26 next year, the UK will also be working closely with Azerbaijan to find solutions to climate change. The UK and Azerbaijan have strong existing ties in the energy sector and we want to take this cooperation to the next level as we work in partnership to develop renewable energy opportunities. Our diplomatic engagement will also continue and we look forward to the next round of the UK-Azerbaijan Strategic Dialogue and the Joint Inter-government Commission happening at the earliest opportunity.
Working together will ensure that countries can return more resilient, innovative and economically dynamic. As Trade Envoy, I look forward to exploring what opportunities there are to achieve this together.
I wish to finish by bidding all readers good health and happiness.