details added (first version posted at 15:25)
Baku, Azerbaijan, May 12
By Emin Aliyev - Trend:
Azerbaijan's development can be exemplary for the regional countries, French President Francois Hollande said at the Azerbaijani-French business forum in Baku on May 12.
"First, I intended to discuss important political and other questions," Hollande said. "But at the same time, the perspectives and new areas of bilateral cooperation are one of the most important issues. We must determine such a strategy that would contribute to the permanent development of mutually beneficial cooperation."
French president said that Azerbaijan's development is obvious.
"Azerbaijan has achieved great success," he said. "The country was able to attract investments in energy sector, as well as transport, construction, infrastructure development. This can serve as an example to the entire region and the world. We will try to make the sources of this development more effective and efficiently use oil and gas resources."
"France sets the task of determining promising industrial sectors and directions," he said.
"Our task is to determine a promising industry, or a leading sphere," he said. "We prepared the projects on four or five such promising directions. We intend to implement these projects in cooperation with friendly countries. At the same time, France aims to establish long-term cooperation, especially with such young and developing countries as Azerbaijan."
"The trade relations between the two countries are at a high level," the French president said.
"The foreign trade turnover between our countries has doubled for the past year," he said. "It is about four percent of the total volume of Azerbaijan's foreign trade. France is the seventh country supplying its products to Azerbaijan. I believe that we have already achieved the set goals, but we can make new achievements. France must increase the volumes of both exports to Azerbaijan and imports of Azerbaijani products, but not only through the energy sector."
"At the ministerial level both sides should determine the areas in which Azerbaijan and France can benefit most of all," he added.
"Of course, I think that energy is one of these areas," the French president said.
"Azerbaijan is implementing an energy strategy," Hollande said. "One of its main objectives is to contribute to Europe's energy security. So, I urged GDF Suez and Total to continue intensifying the activity in the Absheron field. These companies are willing to increase the amount of investments and will be able to do this."
"France is aimed at diversifying the economy as it has no significant energy reserves on its territory as Azerbaijan," he said.
"French enterprises are willing to share their technologies with your country in this field," he added. "France is also ready to cooperate with Azerbaijan in the field of peaceful use of atomic energy."
While speaking about the two countries' cooperation in the space sector, the French president stressed the successful Azerbaijani-French cooperation as part of the project of launching the first Azerbaijani telecommunication satellite.
"I am confident that this project is the foundation for future successful cooperation in this area, because the entire telecommunication sector will be developed thanks to this project," the French president added.
"Baku has turned into a modern city," he stressed.
"I had the opportunity to explore the city and saw this development," he added. "The industrial, port area has become a tourist zone. A large arena where the Eurovision song contest was held in 2012 and major cultural events can be carried out is located there. This shows the city's ability for development, as well as the speed of this development. France has sufficient experience and expertise in the field of town-planning, including transportation, waste disposal, the use of modern technologies, wastewater treatment. It is ready to contribute to the development of these areas in your country."
Hollande stressed that French companies are actively operating in a number of such areas in Azerbaijan.
"Baku is not the only city in Azerbaijan," he added. "France is ready to share its experience in its development," he said.
The French president called agriculture another promising area of cooperation.
"Azerbaijan has its own traditions in agriculture and manufactures high-quality goods," he said. "The livestock and other areas are highly developed. French enterprises have already begun cooperating with Azerbaijani partners in this area. They are also willing to share experience, particularly, in the livestock area."
"Azerbaijan also aims to become a tourist destination," he said.
"I have been in Azerbaijan for two days," the president said. "I can confirm that there are all possibilities. There are institutions, ambitions for development and we are ready to help. I would like to stress the sphere of culture and sport. France believes that culture is not just a value, but the main principle providing the society with freedom and happiness. Azerbaijan has made its choice and invests in this area. I can cite the opening of the department of Islamic Culture at the Louvre as an example."
Hollande emphasized the role of Azerbaijani first lady Mehriban Aliyeva, who greatly contributes to the acceleration and development of cultural cooperation between Azerbaijan and France.
"As for sports, your country will host a number of major events in the near future," he added. "France is ready to render all necessary assistance."
"One visit usually leads to the next," he said.
"But this visit will lead to the signing of several major contracts and further strengthening of bilateral cooperation," the French president said.
He expressed a wish that the parties continued searching for possible areas of long-term cooperation.
"I would like to stress once again what we have today is the primary stage of cooperation," he said. "Both countries can develop a joint development strategy. We can proceed with its development in the coming years."
edited by SI