Building bridges: President Ilham Aliyev fosters genuine, supportive relations between Jewish and Muslim communities

Politics Materials 31 May 2023 09:05 (UTC +04:00)
Building bridges: President Ilham Aliyev fosters genuine, supportive relations between Jewish and Muslim communities
Maryana Ahmadova
Maryana Ahmadova
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BAKU, Azerbaijan, May 31. Over the course of the last 30 years, Azerbaijan and Israel have forged a strong and friendly interstate relationship that has evolved into a strategic alliance. This alliance is built upon a shared understanding and cooperation on various international issues. The ties between the two countries have extended beyond defense to encompass sectors such as energy, establishing a robust and multifaceted partnership.

The highly significant visit of Israel's President Isaac Herzog to Azerbaijan marks a historic milestone. This momentous occasion is set to significantly accelerate the development of bilateral relations across various spheres, underscoring its profound importance.

In a landmark move, Baku made a historic announcement in November 2022 to establish an Azerbaijani Embassy in Tel Aviv. This decision, which signifies the depth of relations between the two nations, is a testament to the concerted efforts in building robust diplomatic ties. Since then, the relationship between the two countries has flourished, paving the way for enhanced cooperation and engagement.

Economic indicators reveal a significant surge in bilateral trade turnover, reaching as high as $1.7 billion, which is a considerable amount. In the forthcoming years, both nations will focus on enhancing the diversification of trade turnover. Through the implementation of collaborative projects, the trade balance will become more equitable, reducing its reliance solely on the energy sector. However, it is worth noting that Azerbaijan has remained a dependable supplier of crude to Israel for many years, with a 40-percent share of Israel's total oil imports.

During the talks, both parties also discussed the matter of broadening collaboration in the energy sector. There are significant prospects for investment projects, including the establishment of energy interconnectors and potential cooperative ventures in other countries.

Moreover, according to the most recent data, around 10-15 Israeli companies have already submitted applications through the Israeli Embassy in Azerbaijan to participate in projects in Karabakh. However, the actual number of companies interested in contributing to the restoration of Azerbaijan's liberated lands is even greater. In addition to green energy, Israel has a wealth of expertise to offer in various sectors including water management, agriculture, health, innovation, and smart cities.

In addition to the thriving economic cooperation, the bond between the peoples of Azerbaijan and Israel serves as a remarkable model for the entire world, characterized by fruitful, sincere, open, and amicable relations rooted in mutual respect and support. Cultural ties between Azerbaijan and Israel continue to flourish. A notable example is the focus on tourism sector development discussed during the meeting between President Ilham Aliyev and President Isaac Herzog. As a result of these talks, it was agreed to promptly increase the number of flights between the two countries, not only during the summer season but throughout the year.

This is particularly important in terms of shedding light on the rich history and vibrant life of Azerbaijan's centuries-old Jewish community, President Ilham Aliyev said, while making joint press statement with President Isaac Herzog.

“This is a big asset for our country. Representatives of Jewish community, citizens of Azerbaijan, people who contributed and contribute a lot to the modern development of our country. They fought shoulder-to-shoulder with us, with all the other representatives of ethnic groups in Azerbaijan for our independence, and for our territorial integrity. And today this factor is important not only for successful development of Azerbaijan, intercultural peace and friendship but also for our bilateral relations. I know that Azerbaijani representatives who live in Israel also play an important role in building bridges between our countries. We have diaspora organizations of Azerbaijanis all over the world. But only in one country, in Israel, they are predominantly consist of people of Jewish origin. And this is really a demonstration that there is no distinction, no division between us,” President Ilham Aliyev said.

Another area that both the Presidents highlighted was the issue of security, and cybersecurity in particular. The cooperation in cybersecurity between Azerbaijan and Israel is a relatively recent endeavor. However, it has been exceptionally dynamic recently. Today, cybersecurity is a vital component of national security for every nation. Undoubtedly, the extensive expertise of Israeli firms in this domain will prove invaluable to Azerbaijan, encompassing the training of young professionals and education. These elements will serve as fundamental factors in accomplishing objectives and safeguarding the country against various threats.

The enduring partnership in the defense industry between Azerbaijan and Israel has already demonstrated its effectiveness. Azerbaijan has had access to advanced Israeli equipment in this field for numerous years, enabling us to enhance defense capabilities and safeguard statehood, values, national interests, and territorial integrity. This longstanding cooperation has played a crucial role in modernizing Azerbaijani defense capabilities.

As President Isaac Herzog said in its press statement yesterday, Azerbaijan is making a huge impact in the world and in the region. And, indeed, Azerbaijan has emerged as a prominent player in global issues such as transport connectivity and energy security. In these critical areas, Israel's expertise and advanced technology play a vital role. By enhancing bilateral relations, Azerbaijan and Israel can unlock fresh opportunities that will benefit not only their own nations but also the broader region, paving the way for new horizons of cooperation.