Egypt's ambassador to Azerbaijan - "The Azerbaijani-Egyptian relations are highly developed" - PHOTOS | Eurasia Diary -

26 June, Wednesday

Egypt's ambassador to Azerbaijan - "The Azerbaijani-Egyptian relations are highly developed" - PHOTOS

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Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt to Azerbaijan Adil Ibrahim Ahmad Ibrahim gave an exclusive interview to Eurasia Daily. The interlocutors spoke about the state of multilateral relations between the two countries and plans for the future. He touched the bilateral relations and the future plans among two states.

- Mr. Ambassador, first of all, I express my gratitude to you for your consent for this meeting. What can you say about the current level of the Azerbaijani-Egyptian relations based on ancient history?

- I would like to thank you for your initiative in organizing this meeting. I am very pleased to work in Azerbaijan. I started working here ten months ago. From my first day of work, I feel greatly comfortable and embraced by warmth and sincerity. I felt myself here as I am in my second homeland. Naturally, this warmth proves the strength of relationships and relations based on ancient history and shows the wide range of opportunities for relations based on sincerity between two states for further development.

From the day I came to Azerbaijan, I tried to achieve this goal and when I conveyed my greetings to His Excellency, President Ilham Aliyev from President Abdulfettah al-Sisi of the Arab Republic of Egypt, I told that our president personally tasked me to work on promoting relations between the two states and peoples. I felt that our Excellency, President Ilham Aliyev, liked this idea, and we have come to the conclusion that we need to help strengthen the relations between the two countries in all spheres. His Excellency expressed his support for my efforts to strengthen the relations between the two countries. Mr. President emphasized that Abdul-Fatah al-Sisi was invited to visit the Republic of Azerbaijan in the near future. Indeed, this trip is one of the most important tasks in the best shape and the successful implementation of its goals. This trip should not be just a photo shoot. That's why I have been working on developing our bilateral relationships in various fields covering partnership and coordination in the fight against terrorism in addition to economic, political, investment, education, and inter-parliamentary relations over the past ten months.

During this period, several high-level visits have also taken place. The first deputy chairman of the Egyptian House of Representatives has been in Azerbaijan twice. A delegation of our press and information workers participated in the coverage of presidential elections in Azerbaijan. Additionally, noticeable progress should be made in sports, arts and culture. Days of Egyptian Culture in Azerbaijan are planned to be held. In addition, Mr. Foreign Minister is expected to attend the next Nizami Ganjavi forum. This is the first visit of our minister after a couple of years' break, which can be considered as a sign of new progress in relations between the two countries.

- As you know, Azerbaijan and Egypt cooperate closely within international organizations. What can you say about these relations and what is the position of Egyptian Arab Republic on the Nagorno-Karabakh problem in the background of these relations?

- The relations between Egypt and Azerbaijan are exemplary within the international organizations, and in this context, it has always been consistent support and coordination in the key issues related to Egypt and Azerbaijan's common interest. Both states are members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which means there is mutual understanding and harmony among the parties. Also, Egypt has always respected and supported international law without distinction in all areas and in any form. Taking this position, we support the right position in the issue of Azerbaijan's territorial integrity. In addition, Egypt has always called for the strengthening of international peace and tranquility, peaceful resolution of the conflicts, and dialogue with the table. Because we suffer from the wars in the Middle East, knowing how expensive they are, how painful, terrorism, extremism and the spread of probes in all areas.

- As you can see, the current level of economic relations between the two parties does not reflect their economic potential. How do you assess the possibilities of expanding trade relations? Particularly, considering that the SOCAR company of the Republic of Azerbaijan wants to invest in the Egyptian economy. Are negotiations on this matter going on?

- After coming here, I contacted several times with the SOCAR leadership and the Minister of Energy. We talked about the Egyptian economy as one of the most favorable markets in terms of investment in Africa, a door to the economy of the continent, energy and other sectors of the economy. We have discussed opportunities for investment in the Egyptian market. Indeed, there are numerous companies that are ready to cooperate. As it is known, SOCAR has an area of activity in Egypt. But this is not at the desired level. We look forward to seeing an investment flow from SOCAR in the oil and gas sector in the near future. There are conversations about this. Mutual visits are expected to take place in order to discuss the challenges faced in this area.

As for the State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan, it should be said that its position on investment is somewhat different. It is related to the assessment of international markets in the field of investment, revenues and risks. The Egyptian market is not suitable for the Fund because it does not pay the required terms. Since the amount it possesses is intended for future generations, more secure markets are preferred. These are economic problems, financial criteria. We respect the position of the Fund's Board of Directors on these criteria. But I suppose that there should be even non-investment opportunities that can be realized through other development funds.

In order to increase trade, cooperation among private sectors needs to be strengthened. During the past period, both sides felt prepared for such cooperation. I met with business people and they said they wanted to cooperate. At present, we are working on direct contacts between Egyptian and Azerbaijani businessmen. It should also be noted that the Joint Intergovernmental Commission meetings was held in for February 2018 in Cairo and the organization of the Egyptian-Azerbaijani Business Council was also discussed. Now, we are working on organizing the visit of Egyptian Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Ms. Sun Nasr. The purpose of this visit is to discuss the real steps of the organization of the Egypt-Azerbaijan Business Council, which mainly means of strengthening trade relations between the two countries. There are also some factors that prevent the further expansion of economic and trade relations between the two countries, the most important of which is the absence of direct airlines between our countries.

- Are the negotiations on the creation of a direct airline between the two countries being discussed? What measures are being taken to strengthen ties in the field of tourism?

- The direct flight between Baku and Sharm El Sheikh was successfully implemented since November last year. Unexpected flights were suspended. Tourists started to send via Ukraine, Turkey or Georgia. Indeed, I am in constant contact with the company, which works on this line, to study the reasons why flights were canceled after only two flights. As the tourism season began, great preparations and supplies were carried out for this work, and numerous reservations were made in hotels until the line was opened. Therefore, I am sure that there is any technical defect that prevents regular flights from Baku to Sharm El Sheikhl. I hope that solutions to this issue will be found. I'm glad to open this line because we consider this line a key factor for the development of our relations in all spheres. Several companies have contacted us about the possibility of transporting goods, medicines and other products through this line. But the line was suddenly closed. We are in touch with the relevant company and the Azerbaijani Travel Agency for the solution of this problem.

- The Joint Commission on Intergovernmental Economic, Technical and Scientific Cooperation between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Arab Republic of Egypt operates. How do you evaluate the work of this commission, what agreements have been signed and what is expected to be signed?

- The 4th meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Arab Republic of Egypt was held on February 21-22, 2018 in Cairo, chaired by Azerbaijani Minister of Economy Shahin Mustafayev and Minister of Investment and International Cooperation of Egypt Ms. Sabah Nasr.

Azerbaijan Export and Investment Promotion Foundation (AZPROMO) and the Egyptian Export Development Authority (EDA), as well as the Egyptian General Authority For Investment and Free Zones (GAFI), signed two memorandums of understanding. Agreements have been signed in all other areas, including cooperation in agriculture, investment, joint production, sports and science. It is envisaged that up to 12 agreements between the parties will be prepared for signing in the nearest future, with some changes and additions.

- How does the increasing cooperation with the Russian Federation affect the relations between Egypt and the United States?

- At present, Egypt follows balanced foreign policy. Close relationships with a state should not be carried out at the expense of one. I suppose that the Republic of Azerbaijan follows the same policy. When I was here, I felt clearly. The Azerbaijani government succeeded in establishing a balanced relationship with all states. We are witnessing this policy in many areas. Thus, I insist that there is no contradiction between Egypt's relations with Russia and its relations with the United States or the European Union or African countries. Egypt defines external relations with all active and promising stakeholders around the world on a balanced basis.

- What is your opinion about the current state of affairs and development prospects of relations between Azerbaijan and Egypt in the field of education?

- I met with the Minister of Education of Azerbaijan. We have discussed the strengthening of relations between Azerbaijan and Egypt in the field of education. I urge Azerbaijani educational institutions and universities to think about opening branches in the new administrative capital. So, many universities in the world have decided to open their own branches in this new administrative capital. I talked about this issue with the Minister of Education because this step will strengthen ties between the parties, especially in the field of education. An agreement on student exchange between Egypt and Azerbaijan is in force and it is expected to be resumed again. Many Egyptian students study in Azerbaijan, while many Azerbaijani students are studying in Egypt. There is no doubt that the number of students was greater when Azerbaijan gained independence. We want the number of students studying in Egypt to return to their previous level. Therefore, student exchange issues will be included in the priorities of both governments, and the agreement in this area will also be revised.

Interviewed by Hashim Mammadov





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