Latvian President: We view Azerbaijan as one of the key players in the supply of energy resources from the Caspian Region to Europe - INTERVIEW

Latvian President: We view Azerbaijan as one of the key players in the supply of energy resources from the Caspian Region to Europe - <font color=red>INTERVIEW </font>
# 04 August 2009 11:07 (UTC +04:00)
- How do you estimate the bilateral relations between Latvia and Azerbaijan?

- In my opinion, relations between Latvia and Azerbaijan are excellent. In addition, I consider that President Aliyev is my personal friend.

Latvia and Azerbaijan share common values that are manifested also by Azerbaijan’s road to closer co-operation with the EU and NATO. The development of events over the past decade confirms Azerbaijan as one of the leading countries in the South Caucasus Region.

Even during the global financial downturn economic relations between Latvia and Azerbaijan are thriving. Latvia’s export to Azerbaijan doubled and import from Azerbaijan increased by 30 % in 2008, year to year. The difficult situation in global economy encourages entrepreneurs to look for new business ideas, partners and markets. The unused potential of economic cooperation between our countries invited Latvian entrepreneurs to discover new opportunities in Azerbaijan.

I am certain that my visit to Azerbaijan will serve as a further catalyst for ever closer cooperation of our officials, institutions, entrepreneurs and people.

- What are the priority spheres in bilateral relations with Latvia and Azerbaijan?

- At the moment, bilateral relations, active contacts between officials and legal framework between Latvia and Azerbaijan are highly developed. Therefore our priorities are to strengthen the existing contacts and develop new spheres of cooperation.

It is important to mention that there is significant interest in Latvia to further develop economic relations with Azerbaijan and a significant business delegation will be accompanying me on the forthcoming state visit to your country.

We are also very interested to increase cooperation with Azerbaijan in the context of the European Union. There are already several very successful twinning projects and programs for exchange on our experience regarding harmonization with the EU regulations that are crucial for economic ties with the EU. Also, Latvia highly values dialogue with Azerbaijan on regional security issues.

- What issues will be discussed within the framework of your visit to Azerbaijan? Was the date of the visit confirmed?

- Besides the bilateral cooperation projects and economy that I already mentioned I will be interested to exchange views with President Aliyev on such issues as cooperation with the EU, our common efforts in NATO operations, energy security, regional security policy and cooperation of our countries in various international organizations.
It is also planned to sign several co-operation agreements between the Governments of Latvia and Azerbaijan during the state visit. I could highlight here the co-operation agreements in the field of youth and sports, as well as tourism.

- What is the role of the Azerbaijani Diaspora in Latvia society? Could our diaspora assimilate to your country well?

- Azerbaijani diaspora is an important element of Latvian society. Each and every diaspora enriches us with its culture and language. Our goal is integration of Latvian society. Our aim is a citizen loyal to Latvia that retains its roots, be it Latvian or Azerbaijani. We do not strive to assimilate any one.

- What is the position of Latvia in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict? Does Latvia support territorial integrity of Azerbaijan?

- Latvia supports the soonest resolution of the conflict according to the recognized principles of the international law and the United Nations. That is crucial to ensure peace and stability in the South Caucasus region. I hope that the continued efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group would give impetus towards resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict one the basis of the Basic Principles proposed in Madrid in November 2007.

- During your meeting with president of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev in the framework of the World Economic Forum in Davos on January 30 discussed alternative routes for the delivery of energy supplies to European countries. Is Latvia interested in Nabucco project?

- Nabucco is currently one of the most important alternative gas supply projects for the EU. The agreement on construction of Nabucco pipeline signed on 13 July by Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Austria is a strong signal on positive development of the Nabucco project and diversification of gas supply to Europe in general.

Latvia as an EU Member State is interested in diversification of energy supply routes and sources. Therefore we view Azerbaijan as one of the key players in the supply of energy resources from the Caspian Region to Europe with a significant role in diversification of energy supply. While Latvia is not participating in Nabucco directly, we are most interested in its success and hope that in the future Azerbaijan’s natural gas reserves will be delivered to Europe through Nabucco gas pipeline.

- How do you estimate the military cooperation between our countries?

- I think that military cooperation between Latvia and Azerbaijan should be viewed through the NATO paradigm. As a member of the collective defense system, Latvia is strongly committed to cooperation with Azerbaijan. Increased cooperation is not only in the interests of Latvia or Azerbaijan, but also of the Alliance as a whole. Latvia is grateful for Azerbaijan’s support of ISAF mission in Afghanistan. We also highly value Azerbaijan’s efforts in fostering energy security and cyber defense. Therefore we are proud to be involved also in bilateral training projects with Azerbaijani armed forces.

- Could Latvia support Azerbaijan to integrate into European institutions?

- Latvia has traditionally supported the strengthening of relations between the EU and Azerbaijan. We regard Azerbaijan as one of the most credible partners for the EU. The Eastern Partnership is a new and unprecedented framework for political and practical co-operation with the EU eastern neighbors. It has the potential to provide us with the tools in supporting reforms and bringing stability to the whole region. We would like to encourage Azerbaijan to make use of those tools to facilitate its reform agenda and to promote relations with the EU.

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