Azerbaijani ambassador to Switzerland: Switzerland is a country realizing Azerbaijan’s increasing role in the region

Azerbaijani ambassador to Switzerland: Switzerland is a country realizing Azerbaijan’s increasing role in the region
# 29 May 2007 10:20 (UTC +04:00)
- How do you appreciate the current state of Azerbaijan-Switzerland relations?
- Azerbaijan-Switzerland relations are developing rapidly within the recent two years. Our embassy opened in this country in October, 2005 and it gave impetus to the development of the relations between the two countries. Ex-Foreign Minister, present president of Switzerland Michelin Calmy-Rey visited Azerbaijan in February last year and four bilateral important agreements were signed on economic and juridical spheres. Presidents of Azerbaijan and Switzerland met in Davos late in January this year and debated on bilateral relations. It should be noted that embassy of Switzerland is planned to be opened in Baku. Swiss government passed a decision basing on our proposal to open Baku office of the embassy in Ankara, chargé d’affaires heads the office at present. Switzerland realizes increasing role of Azerbaijan in the region, they want to review the issue on physical representation of Switzerland in the region and understand that the embassy once opened in Tbilisi can not cover all three countries.
- What concrete steps are expected for the further development of the relations between the two countries?
- Azerbaijan and Switzerland will have debates on political and security issues this year. Both Azerbaijan and Switzerland intend to exchange views on the countries’ geostrategic importance and role in international processes. We do our best to organize high-level visits from Switzerland to Azerbaijan and from Azerbaijan to Switzerland by the year-end. Besides, a lot of events will be organized in cultural sphere in 2007-2008.
- Are you satisfied with the current state of economic relations between Azerbaijan and Switzerland?
- Trade turnover between the two countries was $ 28,000mln. last year, this figure beat $ 100mln. this year. This increase was not due to the cooperation in energy sphere. Switzerland does not buy oil and gas from us. Switzerland is one of our greatest investors in non-oil sector. Swiss Holcim Company runs OJSC Garadagh-Sement. Switzerland is getting more informed about Azerbaijan, its economy, Swiss businessmen get interested in Azerbaijan and the conditions allow them investing in this country. It has positive influence on the economy of both countries.
- You have also been accredited as Ambassador to several international organizations and the Holy See. Vatican’s Secretary of State is expected to participate in the opening ceremony of newly built church. When will this visit take place?
- Bilateral relations with Vatican are developing quickly. In this context the erection of new Catholic Church is very important and both Azerbaijan and Vatican is interested in the high level of organization of the ceremony. This issue is being discussed both by our Embassy and Vatican nuncio to Azerbaijan. Two sides are interested in the representation of high ranking Vatican officials in the ceremony. At the present time we discuss to hold the ceremony in November. We want Vatican’s second person, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State to take part in the forthcoming meeting. If he will not be able to visit Azerbaijan we then consult with Azerbaijan side the visit of cardinal responsible for culture and interreligious affairs.
Another option stays on newly appointed foreign minister He is interested to visit Azerbaijan. The date of the visit is being concretized now.
- Do you cooperate with Azerbaijan Diaspora in Switzerland?
- We do not have many compatriots in Switzerland. Here the number of Azerbaijanis does not increase some hundred people. The number of Azerbaijani students has increased here recently which is positive indicator. Azerbaijanis receive education in popular universities and colleges and at secondary schools. This let us to participate in the daily intellectual life of Switzerland. Most of Switzerland Azerbaijanis have come here from Igdir province of Turkey and Iran. We as Embassy invite them to different meetings facilitating communication between them.
- Are there many Azerbaijanis applying Switzerland government for refugee status?
- There were many Azerbaijanis applying for refugee status recently. Federal Migration service requested us to provide assistance them. Azerbaijanis presenting themselves as Armenian were asked by our consul workers whether they are Azerbaijanis or people trying to receive refugee status illegally. Rightist parties have huge influence in Switzerland and they do not want Switzerland to become US. They appreciate is as a threat for Switzerland nation. That is why migration to S3itzerland has stopped recently. The number of Azerbaijanis illegally resided in Switzerland is five times less that those from Armenian and Georgia. Azerbaijan and Switzerland do not have serious problems in this field. /APA/