Baku, Azerbaijan, March 1
By Matanat Nasibova – Trend:
Russia and Azerbaijan are actively building up the potential in bilateral trade and economic cooperation, in military cooperation, as well as in cultural, humanitarian and political areas.
Mikhail Bocharnikov, Russian ambassador to Azerbaijan, shared his opinions on bilateral cooperation, the barriers impeding the effective development of relations, and other issues of international importance in an exclusive interview with Trend.
On barriers in bilateral trade
“The simplification of mutual trade between Azerbaijan and Russia could be facilitated by the removal of unnecessary barriers impeding trade – perhaps some heavy, customs-related, bureaucratic barriers, and even infrastructural ones.
“The parties are currently working to this end. One such example may be the bilateral efforts made for the soon completion of the construction of an automobile bridge over the Samur River on the Azerbaijan-Russia border.
“The new bridge may contribute to a freer movement of cargo flow, as well as the possibility of opening additional checkpoints in the same place, next to the existing bridge – thanks to which it would be possible to set various other trade flows. Let us say, to direct cars through one point, trucks through another, buses through the third one, thereby expanding the capacity of border crossing points.
“Why am I talking about this? Because quite recently, the construction of this bridge was inspected jointly by the Azerbaijani and Russian ministers of economy, both of whom also happen to be the co-chairmen of our intergovernmental commission. It was thus decided to accelerate work in this direction.
Digitalization as a mega trend in Russia and Azerbaijan
“Azerbaijan and Russia can use the digitalization process to expand bilateral economic relations. In terms of joint actions for the development of priority areas of economic cooperation, there are several roadmaps, one of which is dedicated specifically to digitalization.
“It is about the possibility of using mutual experience in digitalization. For example, in taxation, customs payments, electronic tracking of goods passing through certain trade corridors between our countries – this will significantly reduce the time of transportation of such goods. As such, work is currently underway in this direction, and this issue is a subject of serious discussions and studies on both sides.
Benefits of humanitarian cooperation
“As part of the expansion of humanitarian cooperation between Russia and Azerbaijan, the opening of branches of three more Russian universities in Baku is expected. These are branches of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, the Higher School of Economics, and the Moscow State University of Humanities and Economics.
“By the end of 2019, it is planned to open a branch of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations in Baku, and presently this issue is being worked out in detail.
Advantages of economic interaction
“Russia and Azerbaijan aim to open joint ventures, and this is also in the center of attention of the state policy of our countries. As an example of this, I can mention the recent groundbreaking ceremony to open an enterprise for the production of Gazel cars of the Russian factory Gaz together with an Azerbaijani partner. The ceremony took place in Hajigabul, and I took part in the ceremony together with the ministers of economy of both countries.
Russian interest in SGC
“Russia is considering the possibility of connecting to the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) for the supply of Russian gas to Europe. Recently, statements were made by the Russian Ministry of Energy that, if agreements are reached, it is possible to send gas from Russia through the final stage of the SGC. Presently, this idea is being worked out by the Russian side.
On the benefits of the Caspian Convention
“The signing of the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea by the five Caspian states opens up broad opportunities for the rational use of the resources available in the sea.
“The convention opens up the broadest opportunities because the five Caspian countries get the opportunity to establish direct economic relations within a single basin, to make decisions that would regulate the rules of conduct in the Caspian Sea in nature conservation, fishing and tourism.
“If we talk about the benefits of this document, then the development of tourism is important for the citizens of Azerbaijan and Russia, and, by the way, such goals are set, and they are being realized. Particular attention is paid to the development of sea tourism in the Caspian; work is underway on the concept of the Caspian Sea tourism and cruise communication.
“Today, sections of the Caspian Sea are more or less defined where states can carry out their economic activities, although, of course, some issues are still not fully resolved. And today a high-level working group deals with these issues, the first meeting of which was recently held in Baku.
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