Caspian Energy (CE): Mr. Ambassador, what are the objectives and tasks of your mission in Ukraine? Which difficulties do you see in this course?
Azer Khudiyev, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Azerbaijan to Ukraine: First of all, I would like to thank you for this opportunity and taking advantage of this great opportunity, I would like to wish the whole staff of the Caspian Energy journal great success in its creative work.
As an Ambassador to Ukraine, my direct mission is to develop Azerbaijani-Ukrainian relations, expand economic, humanitarian and cultural cooperation.
Another major line is to make the Ukrainian community aware of the true information concerning the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, as well as fair position on peaceful settlement of this conflict.
I attach big importance to the improvement and development of work with our Diaspora in Ukraine. For this reason we are developing a new concept to bring the work of the Diaspora organization to the state-of-the-art level, which meets modern requirements and international standards.
Considering a broad political dialogue that has been historically established between our states and promotes solution of important tasks between our countries, I would say that I see no difficulties that can arise in the work of our mission.
CE: Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko visited Baku in mid of July. How would you assess the results of this visit and what kind of work has been commenced within the framework of the outcomes of the visit?
Azer Khudiyev: In my opinion, this visit has given a new impulse to the rise of new possibilities for the Azerbaijani-Ukrainian cooperation in the field of energy, trade, agriculture, military technical cooperation, etc.
Signed within the framework of the visit were such documents as the protocol of the fifth session of the Council of Presidents of Azerbaijan and Ukraine, protocol on cooperation between the State Customs Committee of Azerbaijan and State Fiscal Services of Ukraine in fight against customs violations occurring during air transportation of goods. Besides, signed was also a program of cooperation between the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan and Ministry of Tourism of Ukraine in the field of culture and art for 2016-2020.
The sides signed a contract on purchase of 10 cargo planes AH-178 by Azerbaijan. Baku will receive them within two years. In future, the assembling of the AH planes will be carried out in Baku.
The Presidents of the two countries ordered to increase the goods turnover as well as strengthen the work on creation of joint investment projects.
Strong preparation for a whole number of ambitious projects covering different areas has started.
CE: Mr. Ambassador, Azerbaijan and Ukraine are members of the economic bloc GUAM. Which projects will underlie new formats of cooperation?
Azer Khudiyev: As you know, a decision about Azerbaijan’s presidency in GUAM starting from January 1, 2016 was made within the framework of the 25th session of the GUAM’s council of foreign affairs ministers, which took place in Bratislava on May 15, 2015. Azerbaijan's presidency in GUAM is dynamic, substantive and effective, which will bring the cooperation within the organization to a higher level of cooperation.
As a country possessing big economic potential, abundant energy resources, developed and modern transport and logistics infrastructure, Azerbaijan has broad advantages to strengthen and raise its role, promote its interests in the stream of common interests of the GUAM states and beyond.
Azerbaijan and Ukraine have their relationship developing dynamically, consecutively and intentionally and covering all areas. The potential of cooperation within GUAM is certainly much bigger. Our common goal and ambition must be aimed at its using in much broader scale.
In addition to the presidency, Azerbaijan also coordinates the work of GUAM’s working groups in the field of information technologies, energy, fight against illegal circulation of drugs and terrorism.
At the same time, Azerbaijan has assumed the Presidency in the Parliamentary Assembly of GUAM.
New formats of cooperation and projects are as follows: transport, humanitarian areas, customs, civil aviation and agriculture .
CE: Mr. Ambassador, in the course of the meeting held with Mr. Petro Poroshenko, Mr. Ilham Aliyev touched the issue of resuming the Odessa-Brody-Gdansk project, considering the transit potential of Azerbaijan. Do you find this project a major core of the bloc countries or it shall be one of the vectors of the common cooperation?
Azer Khudiyev: Possibilities of supply of Azerbaijani energy resources to Ukraine were discussed in the course of the visit of Mr. Poroshenko to Azerbaijan. In this regard, a possibility of supplying hydrocarbons along the Odessa-Brody pipeline is being considered, the head of our state Mr. Ilham Aliyev said at the press conference hosted in Baku.
As you know, Odessa-Brody oil pipeline was built in 2001 between the city of Odessa, located on the Black Sea, and the city of Brody, located in Lvov region of Ukraine, where it has been linked to “Drujba” oil pipeline. Odessa-Brody was supposed to be extended towards the Polish cities of Plotsk and Gdansk, but Poland refused to complete the construction of the oil pipeline. It was planned to transport Caspian and Kazakhstani oil from Yuzhniy port (near Odessa) to the oil refineries of Eastern and Central Europe via this pipeline. This pipeline idled until 2004 because of the lack of raw materials. Then, it was operated by Russian companies in the reverse regime (in the direction of the Yuzhniy terminal).
Resuming of the project of oil supply along the Odessa-Brody pipeline is certainly beneficial for both countries and I think that it will be one of the components of the entire range of cooperation.
CE: What other industries do you consider as the most promising ones for the development of cooperation between the two countries?
Azer Khudiyev: In general, we are interested in cooperation in such prioritised areas as energy, aviation, military and technical cooperation, light industry and agriculture.
During the visit of President of Ukraine Mr. Petro Poroshenko to Azerbaijan the heads of state instructed to work out in detail ways to increase the trade turnover between our countries, as well as to strengthen the work in regeneration of joint investment projects.
At the moment we are working on implementation of the decisions taken during the XI meeting of the Joint Ukraine-Azerbaijan Intergovernmental Commission for Trade and Economic Cooperation. The cooperation in the agricultural sector is being strengthened. At the same time the possibility to increase the supplies of fruits and vegetables, and set up relevant joint ventures for their processing in the territory of both states is being considered. Increasing exports of Azerbaijani goods to Ukraine is of great interest for us.
Also, in accordance with the Protocol of the Fifth meeting of the Council of Presidents of Azerbaijan and Ukraine held on July 14, 2016, we are working on the development of the military-technical cooperation.
CE: What about the possibility to supply Azerbaijani liquefied natural gas via AGRI to Ukraine? Is this possibility considered? Could you please tell if this project will receive a new impetus to its development?
Azer Khudiyev: AGRI is an ambitious project. Its implementation will be mutually beneficial to all countries. I believe that this project is initiative and economically feasible. As is known, the Baku Declaration was signed on 14 September 2010 at the summit of the Presidents of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Romania and Prime Minister of Hungary. The declaration expressed the political support of the partner states to the AGRI project and outlined the key principles for its implementation.
I hope we will see the results of this project in the near future. Expected delivery of liquefied natural gas can contribute to economic indicators across the countries.
CE: What possibilities for creating new production capacities and increasing the trade turnover between the two countries do you see in creation of the new transport corridors North-South and Great Silk Road?
Azer Khudiyev: As you know the role of the transport corridor passing through Azerbaijan has notably increased in the region today. Azerbaijan spares no effort to facilitate the movement of freights through its territory. Currently, goods from Ukraine and Turkey began to arrive in Kazakhstan and Central Asia through Azerbaijan. After passing through Azerbaijan, cargoes are delivered by sea to the port of Aktau, Kazakhstan. President of Azerbaijan Mr. Ilham Aliyev has ordered to dramatically reduce tariffs for rail transport, port and ferry services in order to facilitate the transit of goods to Central Asia. The head of state enacted to work out a set of measures for maximum simplification of goods transit via the transport corridor in Azerbaijan.
As far as I know, Azerbaijan has completed the final stage of negotiations with the countries of the region on facilitation of transit along the Silk Road transport corridor. The railway operators all over the Silk Road agreed on a common tariff for railway transportation. All these efforts on the part of our country’s top leadership were aimed at creating real goals and possibilities for creating and operation of production facilities and increasing the trade turnover between the two countries, creation and operation of the new transport corridors North-South and Great Silk Road.
Thank you for the interview
Interview made by Fidan Isayeva, Emil Mammadov