[b]Industrial co-operation is viewed by Belarus and Azerbaijan as promising, as confirmed by presidents Alexander Lukashenko and Ilham Aliyev in Baku[/b]The head of the Belarusian state has been to Azerbaijan on a three day official visit — his second to date (the last taking place in May 2007). Ilham Aliyev has also visited Belarus twice: in October 2006 and November 2009.This time, negotiations in Baku primarily focused on trade-economic relations, with the two sides discussing the implementation of current projects, as well as promising new areas for colla-boration. Particular attention was drawn to the development of co-operation in science-intensive production and high technologies.
The head of the Belarusian state has been to Azerbaijan on a three day official visit — his second to date (the last taking place in May 2007). Ilham Aliyev has also visited Belarus twice: in October 2006 and November 2009.
This time, negotiations in Baku primarily focused on trade-economic relations, with the two sides discussing the implementation of current projects, as well as promising new areas for colla-boration. Particular attention was drawn to the development of co-operation in science-intensive production and high technologies.
Azerbaijan is a strategically important partner for Belarus in the Transcaucasian region and could be the foundation for the successful promotion of joint Belarusian-Azerbaijani produce to third markets.
In 2009, Azerbaijan was sixth among Belarus’ CIS partners for foreign trade, moving up to fifth (from sixth) position for exports. Belarusian exports to Azerbaijan primarily focus on machine building, timber processing and construction, as well as foodstuffs, medications, household appliances and petrochemicals.
Since 2007, joint projects have been implemented in industry, with tractor and truck assembly being set up in Azerbaijan and an optical-mechanical plant being modernised using Belarusian technology. A contract has been signed to supply spare parts for lift assembly in Azerbaijan in 2010, with agricultural machinery assembly also in the pipeline.
The presidents discussed interactions in foreign political spheres while tackling a wide bilateral agenda, regional issues and international topics. Attention was also focused on Belarus-Azerbaijan collaboration in integration structures, including the CIS and the Eastern Partnership.
Humanitarian co-operation was also under scrutiny, in addition to joint scientific developments. The two sides discussed a whole range of issues relating to Belarusian-Azerbaijani relations: from cultural exchange and educational programmes to mutual interests in the energy sphere.
Addressing the Belarusian leader, Ilham Aliyev noted that, “Our relations have been developing dynamically and positively. We’re successfully working on many joint projects. Everything we’ve outlined is being realised well and within a short time. I believe that your visit will give even stronger impetus to the develop-
ment of our bilateral relationships.”
The President of Belarus thanked Mr. Aliyev for his warm and friendly welcome. “Good, long-standing traditions of close co-operation and mutual assistance between our nations continue and have even recently expanded, despite difficult conditions,” added the Head of the Belarusian state.
Mr. Lukashenko also asserted the efficient development of bilateral dialogue which, according to him, is yielding positive results. Over the last five years, mutual turnover has more than quadrupled. However, the Belarusian leader believes that both countries have far greater potential. Joint projects — worth $1bn — have been prepared by the two states, which are ready to be implemented. The meeting also tackled joint projects to set up new high-tech manufactures in Azerbaijan.
Minsk and Baku note the increasing role of energy deposits in the Caspian region in ensuring international energy security, and agree on the importance of diversifying hydrocarbon supply routes to world markets. Belarus is now in-
terested in receiving oil from other sources besides Russia, as is traditional, to ensure security. After Moscow introduced export duties on refined oil for Belarus, supplies from other countries became economically feasible.
Various options for bilateral collaboration in the oil sphere are being consi-dered. Previously, Belarus’ independent extraction of Azerbaijani ‘black gold’ was discussed; now, supplies via Ukraine are being studied. Another option is for our Venezuelan oil to be sold to the USA, while Azerbaijani hydrocarbons are dispatched to Belarusian oil refineries. Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister, Elmar Mammadyarov, notes, “Azerbaijan views Belarus as a platform for entering the Baltic States’ markets. The republic possesses unique transit opportunities.”
Mr. Aliyev noted the intensification of bilateral relations, as seen over the last five years in all areas. “Today, we are taking concrete steps and this is only the beginning. We have to look for new spheres in which to develop our relations,” said the Azerbaijani President. He believes that the intensive development of contacts between the heads of branches is vital. “We wish to work together more actively. We’re completely confident in our Belarusian partners,” stressed Mr. Aliyev.
The Head of the Belarusian state noted that Belarus is ready to build
2-3 plants to manufacture construction materials in Azerbaijan, relying on this country’s rich resources. A number of bilateral agreements were signed after the negotiations, including a joint declaration of measures to expand turnover while encouraging the creation of new jobs. Joint steps are planned to promote economic growth and develop the business environment and real industrial collaboration. More opportunities are sought to allow our goods and services to enter the markets of Azerbaijan, Belarus and third countries. Meanwhile, business forums are to be organised, promoting contacts between entrepreneurs from both our states.
We are to exchange experience in the sphere of European integration, implementing an individual plan of co-operation with the EU while co-ordinating our positions within the EU’s Eastern Partnership. The two presidents have agreed to actively develop political dialogue at various levels across a wide range of spheres, in addition to looking at international and regional problems of mutual interest.
Looking at the OSCE’s efforts to solve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict peacefully, and the activity of the OSCE Minsk Group, the presidents stress the importance of adopting more decisive steps. Inter-governmental agreements were signed in the presence of the two presidents, covering informatisation and IT, as well as science and technology. Moreover, an agreement has been concluded to encourage and protect mutual investments. The leaders of the two countries noted in a joint declaration that mutual interests are a weighty factor in our economic collaboration. They have agreed to support, protect and develop investments in areas such as power engineering, trade, heavy industry, machine building, agriculture, transport and communications.