Cooperation with Azerbaijan Could Assist Poland in Diversifying the Energy Sources Speaker of Poland's Senate
Trend's exclusive interview with the Marshal (speaker) of Poland's Senate, Bogdan Borusewicz, due to his arrival to Azerbaijan on November 8
Question: How do you assess the current relations between the parliaments of Azerbaijan and Poland?
Answer: At a time when parliamentary diplomacy is playing an increasing role in relations between countries, I assess the relations between the parliaments of Azerbaijan and Poland as inadequate. Over the past decade, several high-level visits have taken place. Such visits usually pave the way to closer cooperation. That should result in visits by parliamentarians and ministers who sign the proper cooperation agreements in specific fields. Unfortunately, there have not been too many such visits. It is only such contacts that open the way to cooperation and exchanges between enterprises and businessmen. Not long ago, in September this year, I had an opportunity to meet Economic Development Minister Heydar Babayev. That was when the Polish-Azerbaijani Commission for Economic cooperation was holding its first session. At that session, concrete projects were discussed. I hope the presentation of Poland in Baku at the POLAND EXPO event, the visit to a Senate delegation to Baku and a visit by Polish businessmen will help intensify our mutual contacts. I think both countries should be concerned about the development of inter-parliamentary relations. The Polish parliament has had extensive experience in adapting legislation to European Union norms. We shall be happy to share that experience with Azerbaijani parliamentarians.
Question: What topics will be raised during your visit to Azerbaijan?
Answer: The attractiveness of Poland as a trading and economic partner increased after my country joined the European Union. By having closer ties with Poland, Azerbaijan can also benefit from that. Azerbaijan is a very important partner of Poland in the Caucasus. I believe that Poland and Azerbaijan have common interests. Cooperation with Azerbaijan can help Poland diversify its energy sources. At this moment, that is a key issue for Poland. I hope Azerbaijan will take part in the Central Asian-Caucasus-Europe energy-corridor project (the Odessa-Brody-PЕ'ock pipeline). We are counting on this visit to produce more details of cooperation in the energy field and that Polish firms will find their place on the Azerbaijani energy market. For its part, Poland can help Azerbaijan in port construction. I know Azerbaijan is looking for alternative energy-supply routes. Energy issues happen to be one of the prime topics in the EU's relations with Azerbaijan. As I have already mentioned, I shall raise the matter of inter-parliamentary cooperation and will also discuss the growth of trade. Last year. The value of Poland's trade with Azerbaijan amounted to nearly US$56 million. Poland's exports to Azerbaijan considerably exceeded its imports from that country. I believe both sides are interested in increasing two-way trade partnership. Poland would like to export investment equipment and consumer goods to your market. I hope the Polish exhibition in Azerbaijan under my patronage will create a chance for new trade and investment relations.
Question: When will the composition of the Polish side of the Inter-parliamentary Friendship Group be known?
Answer: So far the number of MPs expressing interest has been insufficient to warrant setting up such a friendship group in Poland's parliament. I think that will change after POALND EXPO in Azerbaijan. When our contacts step up, parliamentarians will come forward to work towards bringing our two nations closer and help to establish cultural and economic contacts.
Question: Do you intend to meet Poles living in Azerbaijan?
Answer: Of course. The Senate is the guardian of Polonia and Poles living abroad. Our country's difficult history has resulted in Poles being scattered throughout the world. So whenever I travel abroad I always try to meet Poles. I try to learn how they are living beyond their native land and find out what Poland can do for them. At present, several hundred Poles live in Azerbaijan but not many of them speak Polish. The Poles of Azerbaijan are only now beginning to organize. Their first organization, the Azerbaijan Polonia Association, was set up in 2002. Polish-language classes are held at several locations. Poles have made a big contribution to the economic, scientific, cultural and educational development of Azerbaijan. Poles have left their imprint on nearly every field of endeavor. It was Polish architects that gave Baku its unique appearance and lectures at Baku's first university. During the time of the Stalinist regime, being of Polish nationality was sufficient cause for persecution. That is why many Poles changed their nationality in their identity papers, hence it is now difficult to determine how many people are of Polish extraction. The opportunity for Poles in Azerbaijan to associate reappeared only after the collapse of the Soviet Union. I wish to express my gratitude to the authorities of Azerbaijan for creating such opportunities for Poles.
Question: What is the role of Azerbaijan in Poland's present-day political and economic plans?
Answer: It is our intention to create and maintain with Azerbaijan good political relations fostering economic cooperation. We should like our firms to invest in Azerbaijan in the field of mining, oil and gas sector services and oil refining. Poland's policy towards Azerbaijan is part of the European Union's policy, and the Southern Caucases are in the European Union's direct sphere of interest. The European Security Strategy adopted in 2003 has extended the European Neighbourhood Policy to that region and prepared an EU-Azerbaijan Action Plan. The EU's basic goals regarding that region is for it to achieve stability, develop regional cooperation, implement the rule of law, respect democratic principles and human rights and build a market economy.
Question: What kind of assistance can Poland offer Azerbaijan as it enters European Organizations?
Answer: As I have already said, Azerbaijan may profit from Poland's experience in adapting national legislation to EU standards. That was an immense task carried out by Poland's parliament before the country joined the EU. Good laws can help improve standards of living. I think we shall also be able to offer our intercession and our good contacts in difficult talks with European organizations.