Israeli Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador to Azerbaijan, Artur Lenk, told Trend about his countryвЂ™s position on major directions of bilateral relationships with Azerbaijan.
Question: What are the priority directions of cooperation between Azerbaijan and Israel?
Answer: There are great opportunities for expansion of cooperation between Israel and Azerbaijan. First of all it concerns the economic sector. We attach great importance to search of ways for expansion of trade relationships. The same time it is dealt with the development of relationships between Jewish and Muslim countries. It is necessary to take into consideration the factor of inhabitation of a large Jewish community in Azerbaijan. Moreover, a number of people who came from Azerbaijan reside in Israel.
Question: Does Israel plan to purchase Azerbaijani oil via the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan main export pipeline?
Answer: Undoubtedly, it is a possible variant. Israel can become a buyer of Caspian oil. The same time I want to say that proposals sounded by the Indian Minister for Oil and Gas Industry, Mani Shankar Ayara, in June 2005 in a speech to Caspian Oil and Gas 2005 an international exhibition and conference, are attractive for Israel. Through its proposals, India stated its readiness for purchase of Caspian oil after it enters Ceyhan. Afterwards it is planned to deliver oil by tankers to Israel and use in the reverse direction through the existing Eylat-Ashkelon pipeline, which is currently delivering hydrocarbons from the Red Sea to Mediterranean Sea, and onwards to Asian markets. Israel can also participate in the project.
Question: What issues will be considered during Israeli Communications Minister Dalii ItziвЂ™s visit to Azerbaijan, to be paid in 2006?
Answer: The Azerbaijani Minister for Communications and Information Technologies and the Israeli Communications Minister have recently held a meeting in Tunis under the UN Summit on information society (WSIS) on 16-18 November. The talks were successful and fruitful. In difference to Azerbaijan, where the elections process is complete, Israel is about to set up preparations for elections due on 26 March 2006. Perhaps, the Israeli Minister will pay his visit after the elections. I donвЂ™t rule out that the next meeting of the two Ministers will be held in Israel late 2006 under the international telecommunications. As far as I know, Azerbaijani Minister Abbasov has already given his agreement upon participation in the event. I think after the formation of a new Israeli government the Azerbaijani-Israeli cooperation will gain a new impetus in different spheres. It first of all concerns such spheres like agriculture, environmental protection, energy sector and infrastructure.
Question: The leading Israeli companies, such as Tadiran and Elisa Group started study of opportunities for investing in the communications sphere of Azerbaijan. What are the plans for cooperation?
Answer: Israeli companies have developed a number of projects on investing in the Azerbaijani economy. Part of them is under implementation, while talks on the next part are underway. I can speak about concrete projects which will be implemented in the near future. In particular, under one of the projects it is planned to hold an Israeli-Azerbaijani forum late February 2006. Representatives from leading companies of Israeli agriculture sector will arrive in Baku to participate in the forum. We will try to do all possible to enable the entrepreneurs to establish more and more number of mutually profitable relationships.
Question: How do you estimate the potential of the Azerbaijani-Israeli cooperation in the sphere of tourism? In particular, there were statements on the perspective of the use of Azerbaijani airports for transit flights of Israeli tourists.
Answer: In compliance with the agreement between AZAL and Israeli avia carriers, Heydar Aliyev International Airport is used for transit communication between Israel and India. However, there is a necessity for the development of tourist infrastructure of Azerbaijan itself in order to attract Israeli tourist to Baku and other regions of the country.
Question: Will you continue a tradition of organization of the Israeli film festivals in Baku?
Answer: Undoubtedly, we plan to continue organization of festivals of Israeli films, of which two were of great success. In March we will organize a next festival. IвЂ™d note that such festivals are part of cooperation between Azerbaijan and Israel in the sphere of culture. For instance, in November two concerts in the performance of Israeli band вЂ�TararamвЂ™ were organized with 3,000 spectators in attendance.
Question: What is IsraelвЂ™s position on Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh?
Answer: IsraelвЂ™s position is unchanged. We are for peaceable resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Israel is ready to support any resolution which Azerbaijan, a friendly country to Israel, takes and we are ready to continue cooperation in this sphere.