Ambassador: “There is a political will from both sides to deepen Azerbaijan-Greece relations” - PHOTOSESSION

Ambassador: “There is a political will from both sides to deepen Azerbaijan-Greece relations” - <span style="color: red;">PHOTOSESSION
# 23 April 2014 10:57 (UTC +04:00)

Baku. Anakhanum Idoyatova – APA. Greek Ambassador to Azerbaijan Dimitrios Tsoungas’s interview with APA

– Mr. Ambassador how do you estimate current level of bilateral cooperation between two states?

- Since March 1993, when we established our Embassy in Baku, we have been trying to build solid relations, based on fruitful cooperation and mutual confidence. I think we are in a very good direction. We had a peak last year in June, when two very important decisions had been taken: one concerning selection of Trans Adriatic Pipeline, which is going to deliver natural Gas to Europe, via Greece, another one concerning our national state company DESFA, which has been bought by the Azerbaijani state company “SOCAR” (66 %). This is only the beginning and only the energy sector. Ever since, our relations are developing very fast. There is a political will from both sides to deepen them. I would describe the relations as very good, not excellent yet, only because there is still ample room to further develop them.

– How do you see the perspectives of trade-economic cooperation development?

– I would say, for the moment, both countries’ businessmen do not know each other and either country’s markets. During my term of duty I will encourage more Greek businessmen to come here and to participate in big exhibitions and Azerbaijani businessmen to go to Greece. Last year a number of big and well known Greek companies took part, very successfully, in Baku Build Exhibition and this year many more will take part in various theme exhibitions as well. Those held in Greece have a very long life and high level experience and can promote good opportunities for businessmen from all over the world. I think this is the best way for both sides to know each other, so I encourage Azerbaijani businessmen to go there and share their business activities.

– What is the commodity trade over between two states?

- It is around 700 million Euros, but the largest part is Azerbaijani exports of oil and oil products to Greece. So, the trade balance is negative for my country and both sides should try to change this.

– As it is known, Azerbaijani “SOCAR” purchased 66 % of DESFA, where is the process now, are there any new aspects in this field?

– It is a very technocratic process and it involves technocratic negotiations, which are done between competent Ministries and state companies. The whole process will be, hopefully, completed by mid summer. I think it is going well and will be completed successfully.

– What fields of Greek economy can be attractive for Azerbaijani businessmen?

– First of all, it is the construction field. Both countries are seismogenic, and frequently suffer strong earthquakes, it would be very useful to share our experience since we have a very high level “know – how” on anti - seismic buildings. I believe that, in this field, Greece has a lot to share with Azerbaijan. Not only to teach but to learn as well. Other fields could be: - agriculture, as Greece is famous for its high quality agricultural products, shipping, as we have the largest, by far, commercial fleet in the world, telecommunications, tourism and medical tourism, sports, as Baku will hold European Games in 2015 and we have huge experience in this field. I could also mention services, any kind of. Energy, of course, as for the time being we are going to get natural gas from Azerbaijan. And this is not an exhaustive list but only an indicative one.

– What is the volume of investments of both sides into the economy of both countries?

– Zero, in both sides. We have only exports, from Azerbaijan to Greece mainly oil and oil products there are some exports from Greece to Azerbaijan, very few.

– Trans Adriatic Pipeline which has not started yet will be the biggest private investment ever for Greece (1.5 Billion EU), but it will come from a consortium of companies and, thus, it can not be connected with your country. And SOCAR-DESFA case has not been concluded yet. However, I am very optimistic. I think that, in the years to come we will see booming cooperation between our two countries.

– How many Greek companies are functioning on the territory of Azerbaijan?

– None resident yet, although I know three or four Greek companies getting ready to open offices in Baku. But there are a lot of Greek companies, which are already operating here, they are exporting materials and are present in the local markets. For the time being, to my knowledge, SOCAR has established a daughter- company in Greece.

– How Nagorno-Karabakh conflict can affect the development of Azerbaijani – EU cooperation, and what do you think is the best way to find peace for Azerbaijan and Armenia?

– We have Minsk Group operating; they are doing a good job, although they are very strongly criticized sometimes, but they are doing well. They have been and are being supported by all the European Union member states, including Greece. We, all, would like to see a peaceful solution of the conflict. It is a complicated question; the solution should be a “win – win” case. You should have very frequent contacts at all levels, as you have already started to do. It helps a lot. It will take time, it is a frozen conflict and the word frozen means that it is there for a long time and it might be there even longer. You should not give up, you should be optimistic. Perhaps, you might need to consider some kind of harmless compromise; the whole world is based on this concept. We are 28 different countries in EU. However, we are trying, through frequent contacts, negotiations, meetings, talks, to formulate common positions and find “win - win” solutions for everybody, on any issue, so even the whole building of EU is based on compromises.

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