Latvia Eager to Share with Azerbaijan its Experience in joining EU and NATO – Latvian Minister
Azerbaijan, Baku /corr. Trend A.Gasimova / Trend's exclusive interview with Latvian Foreign Minister, Artis Pabriks, who is currently visiting Azerbaijan
Question: What issues are in focus during your official visit to Azerbaijan?
Answer: In Azerbaijan we have lot of issues to discuss. The agenda during the official visit will include questions on many different aspects - bilateral as well as international. Since our last talks in Riga during the official visit of President Ilham Aliyev last year, relations between our two countries became even more intensive. We have had the first session of the Intergovernmental Commission in March, there were many visits at different levels, there were regular and sustainable contacts between different types of ministries - in the sphere of defense, economics, finance, transportation, information technology, education, health and others. We need to discuss our future cooperation. In this aspect economical cooperation is very prospective. Our economical turnover increased by almost 100% in 2006. This figure is quite impressive. Continuing previous talks and analyzing the results of the Intergovernmental Commission we will look forward using this momentum as good as possible. We would like also to discuss the actual agenda of EU-Azerbaijan and EU-NATO relations. In this regard we will continue to offer our experience of integration into European and Euro-Atlantic structures. This will facilitate dialogue between Azerbaijan and the EU and NATO.
Question: How did the mutual visits of the presidents of Azerbaijan and Latvia promote bilateral relationships? What directions of further interaction do you regard as more concrete?
Answer: The visits of both presidents were not only bright events of bilateral cooperation, but both visits were essential to reactivate our relations after a decade of relative interruption. The visits gave a very special impetus what we are still using. And I see a good opportunities for a long time. The most concrete spheres I mentioned previously - our economical cooperation and the sharing of experience in Euro-Atlantic integration. But there are many other spheres as well.
Question: Azerbaijan was admitted to the Council of Europe during Latvia's chairmanship in this organization. What assistance could Latvia, a member of the European Union and NATO, render Azerbaijan in its integration to European and Euro-Atlantic organizations?
Answer: Some fifteen years ago we were in a similar situation and we really did a lot to achieve our main goals - joining the EU and NATO. This is what we can share with Azerbaijan. We have experience of the reforms Azerbaijan is facing now. The reform process often is hard but these are things to be done.
Question: Neighboring Lithuania has repeatedly come out with initiatives on cooperation of the Baltic countries and South Caucasus in the format of 3+3. How is it realistic and profitable?
Answer: The context of regional cooperation is a very important issue. The Baltic States have achieved many goals only by means of our trilateral coordination and joint efforts. The cooperation between the Baltic States and the South Caucasus is an existing reality. I believe the institutionalization of our cooperation is not a main goal. We should continue and deepen our existing cooperation and mechanism of consultations between the two regions in mutually essential spheres and international issues.
Question: Does Latvia support the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan? Could Latvia make any initiative on the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?
Answer: Latvia strongly supports the existing activities of the OSCE and the Minsk Group. It is clear that a sustainable resolution of the conflict can only be achieved on the basis of mutual dialogue and peaceful negotiations.
Question: There is a large Azerbaijani Diaspora in Latvia. How do you estimate its role in Latvia's life, as well as contribution in the Azerbaijani-Latvian interstate cooperation?
Answer: The Azerbaijani Diaspora in Latvia is a substantial element in our bilateral relations. Azerbaijanis in Latvia are well integrated and play an active role in our society. The Diaspora has good relations with the Ministry for Social integration of Latvia.