Interview for Trend News Agency Azerbaijan
Baku, 5.11.2009 | interview
Azerbaijan occupies special place in EU Eastern Partnership program
Journalist: Elena Ostapenko
Slovenian President Dr. Danilo Turk spoke in an exclusive interview with the European Desk of Trend News Agency in the run up to his visit to Azerbaijan scheduled for Nov. 9-10.
Are you pleased with the current level of cooperation between Azerbaijan and Slovenia? What is the potential for the development of intergovernmental relations?
The cooperation between two governments could certainly be improved and upgraded. We are both new countries in the European space. We have many visions in common and we need to consult more often. I believe that at the political level we need more frequent and more regular consultations. And also, we need to improve our bilateral economic relations. In that context I should say that the potential for cooperation is far from being exhausted and one of the purposes of my visit is precisely to explore the possibilities for further strengthening of both political and economic cooperation.
How do you see the current level of bilateral economic and trade cooperation between Azerbaijan and Slovenia? And what are the perspectives for its development?
The current level of trade exchange is very low and has to be improved. I see that there are possibilities for economic cooperation in many areas I shall be accompanied in Azerbaijan by a 70-member team of key business leaders of Slovenia. That demonstrates the level of interest that exists in our country. I believe that we have many areas of cooperation, including energy development, information technology, construction and investment in general. I also believe that we can do more in the area of financial services, insurance and other services areas. Just to give an example: In the area of construction we have a great deal of experience in construction of not only housing but also various industrial plants, sport areas and use of different new materials and new technologies of construction, which Slovenia's firms are using in the investments in Europe, in the Mediterranean and in the Middle East. I believe that there are also many other areas in which we can cooperate much more fully than is the case today.
What strategy does Slovenia hold as a member of the European Union regarding the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?
We are very concerned that this oldest "frozen" conflict persists for so long and that there hasn't been enough progress in the effort to find a proper solution. I believe that we need to strengthen the efforts of the entire membership of OSCE - and other actors to move the situation towards a solution, which can only be based on firm respect of international law, including such principles as peaceful settlement of disputes, territorial integrity of states concerned and other relevant principles of international law that need to be applied. I believe that it is time for a strong effort by the European union and other OSCE actors. I shall be interested in learning from President Aliyev about his most recent experience in communication with Armenia and with other actors relevant to this situation.
How does Slovenia as one of the youngest members of the European Union see the perspectives of the EU initiative of Eastern Partnership towards Azerbaijan?
Slovenia is indeed one of the new members of the European Union. We would like to see the Eastern partnership to be strengthened and I think it is important to look into the possibilities of each individual partner states. Azerbaijan as an important oil and gas producing country has a special place in this context and we need to do much more to establish new gas and oil routes from Azerbaijan via Georgia and Turkey and in other ways to the European Union countries. But it would be inappropriate to reduce this relationship only to the issue of energy. We need to look at the variety of other areas including the question of the strengthening of democracy and the cooperation between different religions. Azerbaijan has an important experience in bringing the Islamic cultural element into the polity of the country. All these can be important ingredients of the Eastern partnership towards Azerbaijan, something the European Union should work for.