Wednesday, 15 May 2019 16:00

International business forum on sectors will help to focus on specific projects and objectives, Maija Tasa

 Caspian Energy (CE): Your Excellency, what is the objective of your mission in Azerbaijan?

Maija Tasa, Charge d'Affairs of Estonia to the Republic of Azerbaijan: I have been the Charge d'Affairs of Estonia to the Republic of Azerbaijan for six months now. We have a good relationship with Azerbaijan that can become tighter. There is a long distance (4,000km) between our countries, though both states are small in size and we both are celebrating the 100th anniversary of gaining independence since 1918. We have much in common and share a part of history.

Just like in the entire EU, our main objective is to establish good economic relations. The number of Estonian entrepreneurs working here is very low. Our local diaspora consists of about 10 people, while there is a big Azerbaijani diaspora living in Estonia and its members are very active. We have a splendid relationship established in the field of culture.

I took up my duties in October 2018 when Baku hosted the M.A.P. international theatre festival.  The festival hosted 16 plays by the theatre groups from Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Iran, Italy, Japan, Switzerland, Russia and Great Britain. 2019 was declared as the “Year of Poet Nasimi” in Azerbaijan and the next festival has been scheduled for September with Estonian participation.

CE: How to improve trade and investment turnover between the countries?

Maija Tasa: Baku will host a business forum in June, which is going to be organized by the European Union. It is planned to invite Estonian businesses to this event. The entrepreneurs who came to Azerbaijan for different reasons are fascinated by Baku and Azerbaijan. Unfortunately, many  know very little of this wonderful country and we need to change that.

Our entrepreneurs are working with Georgia and Kazakhstan in the energy sector and production of environmentally clean energy. In some cases, energy is being generated in Estonia out of waste burning, which is used for heating purposes as a byproduct.

The Estonian public energy company is interested in cooperating with Azerbaijan in the energy sector and generation of power through waste recycling. We possess modern technologies. The Estonian public company Eesti Energia has created its platform, adopted world technologies and managed to create its own system. Secondly, the Estonians are engaged in the recycling of secondary raw materials, which indicates not only the concern for the environment but also the possibility of making savings on utility costs.

CE: To what extent do you find attractive an idea of holding sectoral business forums on a multilateral basis, involving entrepreneurs from different countries?

Maija Tasa: It is an excellent idea. A sectoral business forum will help to focus on concrete projects and goals.

Azerbaijan and Estonia have been enhancing the work of the intergovernmental commission for 6 years.  A sufficient number of Estonian businessmen visited Azerbaijan and discussed the field of logistics, railway transport, maritime transport, etc. Unfortunately, it has yielded no results yet. There is a perfect opportunity to establish a maritime transportation.


CE: Which prospects do you see in the area of education of Azerbaijani students in Estonia?

Maija Tasa: Azerbaijani students enter the Estonian higher education institutions and their number is much higher than that of the Estonian students studying in Azerbaijan. I can give you one example about the Estonian student who studied at ADA University. He was thrilled with the education system and teachers. Representatives of the Estonian higher education institutions have been to Baku twice during my stay here and spoken about the education system in Estonia. One can go to Estonia by the Erasmus+ program. It is also possible to get a scholarship and grants while studying at the university. Azerbaijani students are very interested in getting education in Europe, and Estonia here serves as a stepping-stone. But unfortunately, at the education exhibitions we have noticed that Azerbaijani students show interest in higher education institutions teaching in Russian. 

CE: To what degree is the investment climate in Azerbaijan’s regions attractive for the Estonian companies?

Maija Tasa: Our entrepreneurs are facing difficulties, but they are in search of their niche at your market. The Estonian entrepreneurs working in Georgia intend to establish their business in Azerbaijan as well. Their business is developing well in Georgia, and now they are in search of a sector for investments in order to make both sides interested. We want Ministers of Agriculture to make mutual visits this year. The pharmaceutical field is also of interest to both sides.

CE: Which changes in Azerbaijan can attract Estonian entrepreneurs?

Maija Tasa: Estonia has a high rating in terms of ease of doing business. One can have everything registered online without leaving an office. Estonia is coming third in the World Trade Organization, while Oman is the fourth. Oman has adopted our digital platform and moved to the fourth position right from the bottom. The first thing that should be done is to simplify conditions for doing  business for foreign entrepreneurs. Stable and clear environment is attractive.

CE: Could you please tell about the results of Estonian presidency in the EU in 2017? Which of them were strategic?

Maija Tasa: A digital sphere is one of the areas that we are well known in the World. We organized a Summit attended by Prime Ministers and Presidents of the European states. Another area which we made progress in was the Eastern Partnership.

This year marks the tenth anniversary since the day of creation of the Eastern Partnership. EU plans different events in the regions and most of them are hosted in Baku. This year we have decided to change a tradition. We always invite the same persons to Baku. But it is necessary to make trips to regions in order to get closer to the Azerbaijani culture. We will go to Mengichivar and Ganja, a business mission will take place in Lenkaran.

 Thank you for the interview.

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