Scope to boost UAE-Azerbaijan ties' , p. Website
- 16 September 2008
Elmar Mammadyarov, foreign minister of Azerbaijan, said on Wednesday that there was a lot of potential and opportunity for widening the existing relationship between the UAE and his country.
Mammadyarov who is on a short visit to the UAE said both countries shared broad relations in the area of trade and even on the political front relations were excellent with both countries holding concurrent views on important issues.
The minister who was delivering a lecture at the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR) on “Azerbaijan’s Place in the Modern World” said his country which achieved independence just 14 years ago followed a balanced foreign policy focussed on maintaining good relations with neighbouring countries.
Azerbaijan’s vast oil reserves, he noted were both beneficial and detrimental at the same time as on the one hand it helped the country in its march towards progress while on the other it generated a lot of interest from outside the country.
The minister informed that Azerbaijan was currently trying to reduce its dependence on the oil sector as more than 70 per cent of its budget was financed by oil revenues.
“The government is trying to develop the agricultural and tourism sectors as part of reducing dependence on the oil sector. The tourism sector in particular requires more investments to bring it to world standards,” he said.
In view of the strategic geographical position of the country, Azerbaijan is also working with the European Union to build a transportation network, said the minister. “We have established a working group with Turkey and Georgia to build a railroad, which once completed will improve link between China and Europe.”
He also revealed that discussions were underway with several countries including Russia, China Oman, Iran, India and so on, on the possibility of establishing a global north-south transportation link.
On his country’s territorial conflict with Armenia he said: “Armenian conflict with Azerbaijan is of great concern to the region and though negotiations have been going on, not much has been achieved in terms of progress. There is a lot of frustration on both sides.”
He said that as the first step towards peace Armenian military forces should withdraw from Azerbaijan territory and internally displaced people of the area numbering some 750,000 should be allowed to return to their homes.
On relations with the Islamic World, he said Azerbaijan is a Muslim state and it values close interaction with the Muslim world including the OIC.
“We propose moderate Islam and believe that terrorism is unacceptable. Islamic states should explain the peaceful traditions of Islam to the rest of the world.”
Azerbaijan, he said had produced about 70 million tonnes of oil last year out of which 8.5 million tonnes was allocated for domestic use while the rest was exported.
The minister also noted that his country shared diplomatic relations with Israel and the relationship could be termed as good. “A huge community of our former citizens emigrated to Israel and we also have a local Jewish community in Azerbaijan. So there is strong demand for consular services.”
In the Israel-Palestine conflict “we continue to side with the Palestinians and even in the UN we have always voted in favour of Palestine,” he said.