“UKRAINE WILL ALWAYS SUPPORT AZERBAIJAN’S POSITION IN THE NAGORNO-KARABAKH CONFLICT”

INTERVIEW WITH IGOR KEZIM, THE CHARGE-D’AFFAIRES OF UKRAINE IN AZERBAIJAN

Question: Ukraine will mark 14th anniversary of its independence on 24 August. Taking into consideration the way of independence that Azerbaijan also passed, what are the achievements?

Answer: On 26 august the people of Ukraine will mark the 14th anniversary of the independence of Ukraine. This is a great national holiday and we always make definite preparations for the holiday. Today we have tremendous movements in the process of further democratization of society.

Ukraine stood in line with the developed countries, which belong to democratic community, the situation with the freedom of word, press has changed considerably, while living conditions of people have been improved through flow of capital to the social sector. I’d say that over the past 6 months net average monthly salary grew 33.6 % as compared to 2004, whereas real wage rose 17% as compared to 2004. Today average monthly salary in Ukraine comprises around US $150.

Rise in GDP is 4%, including 7.7% - in agriculture, 7% - transport, 5.1% - refining industry. Growth of industrial production made up 5%. In January to May of 2005 total amount of the foreign trade turnover constituted $27556.8m, or 10.6% up as compared 10.6%. major efforts of the government were directed at the social sector. Essential positive changes were observed in this sphere.

Question: The Presidents of Georgia and Ukraine have recently signed a Borzhomi Declaration, while some Russian and Armenian media reports urge it implied the failure of the GUAM as an international organization? What is the essence of this declaration?

Answer: The Presidents offer the establishment of a regional community, which would become a powerful tool in releasing the region from the parting lines, violation of human rights, any kind of confrontation and suspended conflicts.

First, they declare that the assertion of democracy and civil society is one of the pre-conditions for economic development of the countries and the entire region. I think, everyone agrees. Second, the Presidents declare democracy and stability in the region is pre-condition for ensuring stability and democracy Europe. There is hardly anyone that doubts.

Thirdly, they state the Baltic-Black Sea-Caspian region is perspective with unique opportunities in the sphere of human resources, use of energy sources, transit corridors and communications networks among Europe, Central Asia and Far East. I think, such milestones should be supported on Azerbaijan, Georgia and Europe, and Europe.

Despite different statements I don’t see Azerbaijan’s disinterest in joining such initiative. The initiative by the Ukrainian and Georgian Presidents is linked with intensification of a process of European integration of our countries and the countries of the region.

We must be very much interested in it, especially, in removal of parting lines, conflict situations. The issue is still to be accorded with Azerbaijan and reports on Azerbaijan’s joining to the statement are not correct. The settlement of the issue will be in line with the agreements and in accordance with the existing experience.

Question: How do you regard the perspectives of development of the GUAM?

Answer: GUAM [a regional organization among Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova] successfully functions today, a process of institulization of the union completes, now I am not afraid to call it as a full value international organization.

Last year the Parliamentary Assembly was established and the Chisinau Summit asserted such intentions by for countries and determined concrete ways for their resolution.

This is, firstly, the democratization of the society, secondly, removal of existing conflict situations and stabilization of the situation in the region and economic cooperation. GUAM has large perspectives.

Question: How do you estimate the perspectives for the development of the Ukrainian-Azerbaijani relationships?

Answer: Bilateral relationships between Azerbaijan and Ukraine were built on friendly ties, mutually profitable cooperation and based on complementary character of economy. Ukraine was deliverer of agriculture products, machines, mechanisms and devices, while Azerbaijan delivered to Ukraine chemical products and products of oil and gas complex. Today the goods turnover exceeds US $180m and there is constant dynamic growth. It is more 30% as compared to previous year. However, these are not the relationships which our countries have.

The opportunities of the scientific and production potential of Ukraine, geological position of Ukraine and Azerbaijan, as well as rich reserves of Azerbaijan that Ukraine needs are not used sufficiently. We hope in further development of bilateral relationships which are of strategic partnership character today. It fixed in 2000 in agreements on friendship, cooperation and partnership undersigned by the Presidents.

Question: in which spheres will Ukraine wish to develop relationships with Azerbaijan? Which problems and obstacles should be removed to intensify the development of relationships?

Answer: We possess serious opportunities for the development of cooperation in aircraft construction, ship-building, construction of energy facilities. There are different directions, including Ukraine’s participation in the development of facilities of the communal economy, participation in the development of transport facilities and oil and gas sector.

As to the problem, here it is necessary to reach an agreement on the unification or cut in transport tariffs on all types of transportation along the Euro-transport corridor. In trade relationships we should strengthen cooperation, as there tremendous opportunities.

During the post-Soviet period the goods turnover between Ukraine and Azerbaijan comprised million of dollars, but now it is around $150m. Ukraine is an agro-industrial countries interested in the cooperation in use of the scientific military potential and agriculture sphere. I hope in survival of economy in current government.

Ukraine offers Azerbaijan its services in the well drilling and refurbishment. Besides, Ukraine is eager to obtain operatorship in one of the Azerbaijani fields.

Answer: Ukrainian oil company Neftegas Ukraine wants to undertake the development of one of the Azerbaijanis fields under the terms the world companies accepted. We want to invite Azerbaijan to participate in the development of Ukrainian fields in the Black Sea shore and participate in the development of oil transport infrastructure. I mean transport routes, which would be diversified for Ukraine, and the European consumers are interested in this transport route, which is also backed by the European Commission.

Ukraine has recently designed a draft agreement. Besides, during his visit to Baku Boris Tarasyuk, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, reached an agreement with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on the conclusion of a general agreement cooperation in the oil and gas.

Ukraine developed draft agreement and submitted to the Azerbaijani government. I hope it will come as an important document for signing during Ukrainian President Yuschenko’s visit to Azerbaijan.

The Presidents of Azerbaijan and Ukraine will have one-to-one in Kazan on Friday and elaborate on the visit, accord the question on cooperation in the oil and gas complex, use of the Ukrainian transport corridor.

Ukraine has a developed system Odessa-Brody, to built further, and have relationships with the European pipeline system. Azerbaijan also relies on multi-variant route, despite the completion of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan main export oil pipelines, Azerbaijan will not refuse from he existing transport routes.

Question: Over the past period there appeared a tendency for the development of military cooperation between the countries. What are the perspectives for such relationships?

Answer: The military-technical cooperation between Ukraine and Azerbaijan have always developed successfully and met the spirit of the strategic partnership. There are some agreements. Ukraine is interested in the implementation of the excessive war industry complex, which we inherited and namely such cooperation has been carried out over the past few years.

Azerbaijan is interested in training of personnel, military specialists in the high military schools of Ukraine. We cooperate under NATO’s Partnership for Peace Program. We have many common interests here, this is a general aspiration to the Euro-Atlantic integration. This is the base for further cooperation.

What about the preparations for the forthcoming visit of Ukrainian President Victor Yuschenko?

Answer: Both sides are interested in this visit, first of all for asserting the intentions for the development of strategic partnership, while agreements on cooperation in the oil and gas sphere and some other documents are under development. Now the point is the coordination of all documents scheduled for signing.

Question: What could be Ukraine’s contribution in the resolution of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Did Azerbaijan appealed to the Ukrainian authorities in this connection?

Answer: Ukraine always supported Azerbaijan in the resolution of this heavy problem. Starting with support to UN resolutions, the OSCE Lisbon Summit principles, Ukraine has always taken firm ground on support to Azerbaijan in the resolution of the conflict in accordance with the adopted principles вЂ" provision of the territorial integrity, maintenance of peace and stability and ensuring of the security.

Ukraine has tremendous potential, almost 1,000 Ukrainian peacemakers work in 9 missions. However, the participation of the Ukrainian peacemakers in the conflict zone was conditioned with a necessity of agreement of both sides and acquisition of a mandate of the international organizations. Ukraine will back Azerbaijan’s position in the political area.

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