Azerbaijan hopes to maintain an increasingly positive trajectory of relations with Vietnam
|Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister Elnur Mammadov. (Photo: WVR/Nguyen Hong)
As we know, Vietnam and Azerbaijan although geographically far away from each other but close in the friendship between two nations. Could you tell us about the notable milestones in political cooperation between two countries?
There’s a big history to the relations between Azerbaijan and Vietnam, the history that started back in Soviet times, in particular with the visit of President Ho Chi Minh to Azerbaijan in 1959 as well as the visit of the national leader of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev to Vietnam in 1983.
We opened a new page in relations in early 1990s when Azerbaijan restored its independence from the Soviet Union.
And now, if you take a look at the last 10 years, our relations were deepened by the opening of the Embassy of Azerbaijan in Vietnam in 2013, by the official visit of President Ilham Aliyev to Vietnam in 2014, when he was very warmly received here. President Truong Tan Sang then paid a reciprocal visit to Azerbaijan in 2015.
In recent years we have held a meeting of the Joint Economic Commission that was established between Azerbaijan and Vietnam in 2015. In 2019, we had the first round of political consultations between the Foreign Ministries and during my visit to Vietnam in July 2022, we successfully held the 2nd round of political consultations.
So I think in terms of the trajectory of these relations, we have had very positive trends and this will hopefully continue in the coming years.
Despite being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, economic and trade cooperation has also made encouraging progress. Could you please share more details?
We have cooperated in many fields in the past and that cooperation continues today. One of them traditionally has been the energy sector and the strong ties and relations between the state oil companies, SOCAR and PetroVietnam, in terms of sale of crude oil and oil products.
Speaking of the economic cooperation, one important fact is that trade turnover between Azerbaijan and Vietnam has increased 3 times from the start of this year, which is a very positive dynamic.
We offered economic incentives to foreign investors, such as one stop shop to process all government papers, tax incentives, exemption customs duties. There are free-economic zones established in Azerbaijan that we plan to present to our Vietnamese partners.
Currently, there are some Vietnamese companies operating in Azerbaijan and we hope that the number of those companies and foreign investments in our region will increase.
How does Azerbaijan evaluate Vietnam's ability to lead and take the lead in Southeast Asia?
We see Vietnam first as a traditional friend of Azerbaijan. At the same time, Vietnam is also a booming economy in this region, and your economic indicators have significantly increased in recent years. That warrants only more cooperation between Vietnam and Azerbaijan.
Another thing that we mentioned today is the role of Azerbaijan as a transit country. In recent years, we have started positioning Azerbaijan as a regional hub and transportation logistics centre. There are a few international transit routes and transport corridors that pass through the territory of Azerbaijan and one of them is the Middle Corridor to transport goods from East Asia to Western Europe and backwards.
We have been heavily investing in transport infrastructure, namely we have built Baku International Sea Trade Port on the Caspian sea, we own the largest commercial fleet on the Caspian Sea, we have built Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railroad which connects Azerbaijan to Georgia and Turkey.
Because of these recent developments in our region, we believe we now have even more ample opportunities to expand our economic cooperation.
|Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son met visiting Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister Elnur Mammadov in Hanoi on July 19. (Photo: WVR/Tuan Anh)
What’s Azerbaijan plan to keep working closer with Vietnamese partners in further strengthening bilateral and multilateral cooperation, in order to jointly contribute to ensure peace and stability in the world?
We traditionally support each other’s position within the international organizations and we’ve also supported each other’ candidates within international organizations.
In 2019, Azerbaijan was elected as a chair of the non-aligned movement. This is the second largest group of states after the United Nations. It has 120 member states.
This year, our chairmanship was extended for another year (until the end of next year) with unanimous support of all states.
There are several initiatives that we have brought to the table as the chair of NAM to develop more institutional capacities for this movement. Last year, we introduced a youth network for young representatives from all member states, we then established a parliamentary network as a shared platform for parliamentarians.
Baku hosted the second meeting of the NAM Parliamentary network in June-July this year and the member states adopted the working modalities, flag and emblem of the network. NAM is one of the major platform where Azerbaijan and Vietnam cooperate.
We are also interested in expanding our cooperation with ASEAN, where Vietnam is a member. So I hope to discuss with my Vietnamese colleagues our bilateral and international agenda in the near future.
|Deputy Foreign Minister Ha Kim Ngoc and his Azerbaijan counterpart witnessed the signing of a cooperative agreement between the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam and the ADA University of Azerbaijan on July 19. (Photo: WVR/Nguyen Hong)