We have good political relations, but unfortunately our economic ties are lagging behind - Expert - EXCLUSIVE | Eurasia Diary - ednews.net

23 March, Saturday

We have good political relations, but unfortunately our economic ties are lagging behind - Expert - EXCLUSIVE

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Yesterday, on October 17, ADA University and Embassies of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia held an international conference on a topic “From National Independence to Eastern Partnership: Story of Cooperation between Azerbaijan and the Baltic States”. The conference was held at ADA University where besides the representatives of Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian embassies, political experts, academicians and the students from the Baltic States took part.

On the sidelines of the Conference, Eurasia Diary conducted an interview with Mr. Karlis Bukovskis who is the Deputy Director and a researcher at the Latvian Institute of International Affairs. Mr. Karlis Bukovskis gave his speech on a topic “Eastern Partnership and today’s fundaments for economic cooperation” during the conference.

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Karlis Bukovskis

How would you comment on the relations between Azerbaijan and Latvia?

My comment would be that there are good relations between Azerbaijan and Latvia. As Azerbaijan is the part of the Eastern European Cooperation Project, in that case, it made a  framework for the collaboration. We have to admit that our countries have good political relations, but unfortunately, out economic ties are lagging behind. And, it concerns the relations of 3 Baltics States with Azerbaijan. One of the reasons for non-developed economic ties between Azerbaijan and the Baltic States is that Azerbaijan is a country with rich energy resources. But Azerbaijan’s energy supplies don’t play a noticeable role in the case of the Baltic countries economies.

Which fields of the cooperation between Azerbaijan and the Baltic states should be strengthened?

So, in this case, what we have to be concentrated more on is a trade in non-strategic goods from both sides. We can name food products, timber products, pharmaceuticals, IT products and so on. Azerbaijan can import a lot qualified IT goods from Estonia and also from Latvia. These are the issues on which we should put more emphasis. There is a huge additional potential for the increased trade turnover, thus we should contribute in economic ties bilaterally and multilaterally.

What is the reason that Political ties between Azerbaijan and Latvia are much developed neither economic?

Political ties have always been in good terms. I consider, in this case, the best explanation for it is the differentiation of our market presence as well as our market standards. I have to admit that there is a tendency the majority of the Baltic companies trying to exceed at the EU market at first, and then go abroad. But since the recent time, the policy of the Baltic companies is to diversify and become bigger. So, we can observe that they are looking for additional markets, for example in Azerbaijan. And, I can say Azerbaijan is one of the markets which Latvia is looking for. So, I think that is the best explanation of why our trade and economic ties were so underdeveloped. In case of political aspect, of course, there have always been quite substantial achievements between our countries. Especially, we are cooperating in the framework of European Neighbourhood Policy and the European Eastern Partnership Program. And, moreover, the minister of the Foreign Affairs just a couple of days ago reiterated again that the new EU budget will allocate money for the European Eastern Partnership to support the countries which are the parts of this project. 

According to the Europea and Russian media outlets, Russia and Latvia are struggling through hard times linked with allegedly discriminative policy lead by Latvia. Especially, recently the Consultative Committee urged the Latvian government to stop the discrimination of Russian speaking population of the country. Can we call the actions made by Latvia as discrimination and in your regard how this recommendation made by the Council of Europe will affect the policy lead by Latvia

I can strongly claim that it is not a discrimination, because there are a lot of Russian ethnics living in Latvia, You can just look at the numbers and most of them are engaged politically as well as economically. Moreover, one-third of marriages in our country are mixed marriages with Russian ethnic people. We also have a member of the Latvian Parliament who is ethnically Russian and he is on the blacklist of his country, thus he is a Persona Non Grata. And I have to admit that economically Russians have been always present in Latvia. What concerns the political aspect, so it should be known that the Mayor of the Riga is ethnically Russian. The biggest political party in Latvia is pro-Russian, moreover, we have had ministers who are ethnically Russian I can say that this is an image promoted by the political activists and policymakers not only from Latvia but also from other countries. Their objective is to persuade that there are some problems between Russia and Latvia, but it is not like this.

Akber Bayramov

Eurasia Diary


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