“Our re­la­tions good ex­am­ple for other coun­tries”

Azeri Observer - - Interview Azeri Observer - By GUNEL ABBASOVA AZ­ERI OB­SERVER CON­TRIB­U­TOR

Ser­bian am­bas­sador Zo­ran Va­jovic:

Q. Ser­bian Em­bassy in Baku has been opened 2 years ago. What have your Em­bassy done to de­velop our bi­lat­eral re­la­tions?

A. Yes, Ser­bian Em­bassy in Baku opened two years ago and we con­tin­ued bi­lat­eral diplo­matic re­la­tion­ship with new diplo­matic of­fice in Baku. I came here in Fe­bru­ary, 2011, have found this place. I was alone and it was hard time.

Q. What have we done for two years? We have done a lot.

A. Since two years, the level of co­op­er­a­tion and friend­ship has been strength­en­ing ev­ery day. So I was try­ing to do my best to reach our strate­gic re­la­tion­ship.

Bi­lat­eral re­la­tions are on the high­est level now. Azer­bai­jani Pres­i­dent Il­ham Aliyev and Ser­bian Pres­i­dent Tomis­lav Nikolic have signed a dec­la­ra­tion about friend­ship and strate­gic part­ner­ship in Fe­bru­ary, this year.

I am very proud about that, be­cause strate­gic part­ner­ship gives op­por­tu­nity to de­velop re­la­tion­ship in all fields, from econ­omy to cul­ture, from sport to ed­u­ca­tion, from science to art and this is very good achieve­ment.

Azer­bai­jan and Ser­bia have signed more than 20 doc­u­ments, in­clud­ing in all fields of life. Last year, the Pres­i­dent of Ser­bian Olimpic Com­mit­tee, Vlade Di­vac, came to Baku and he

was re­ceived by Pres­i­dent Aliyev and got a lot of meet­ings, in­clud­ing meet­ing with min­istry of sport and youth, Azad Rahi­mov.

And you know, Azer­bai­jan be­came the first county to host Sum­mer Olimpic Euro­pean games in 2015. This will help again for a good co­op­er­a­tion.

As you know, there is Azer­bai­jani Em­bassy in Bel­grade, too. Azer­bai­jan ex­cel­lent am­bas­sador, Dr. El­dar Hasanov, is very en­er­getic and a very dy­namic am­bas­sador.

We do be­lieve that, our bi­lat­eral re­la­tions are very good, strate­gic and an ex­am­ple for other coun­tries, how to sup­port each other.

Q. How would you as­sess Ser­bian-Azer­bai­jani po­lit­i­cal co­op­er­a­tion?

A. As men­tioned we have very good po­lit­i­cal re­la­tion­ship. Our po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue on the high­est level for three years is very ac­tive and dy­namic.

In May 2010, the Pres­i­dent of Ser­bia, Boris Tadic vis­ited Baku, and in June 2011, Azer­bai­jan Pres­i­dent Il­ham Aliyev vis­ited Ser­bia.

In Fe­bru­ary this year, new elected Pres­i­dent of Ser­bia, Tomis­lav Nikolic vis­ited Baku and this is the high­est level of po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue, what­ever Pres­i­dents dis­cuss and de­cide, and then you have to im­ple­ment in life.

Meet­ing of the Pres­i­dents is ac­tu­ally the high­est level of the po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue and co­op­er­a­tion be­tween two coun­tries.

Q. What are the pri­or­ity ar­eas in eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion?

A. We do be­lieve that eco­nomic re­la­tion­ship is not on the level as po­lit­i­cal one are. We would like our ex­cel­lent po­lit­i­cal re­la­tion­ship de­velop to eco­nomic re­la­tion­ship.

Me per­son­ally, I was not happy with the fig­ures, a cou­ple of mil­lions of trade turnover. In 2012 our trade turnover was 40 mil­lion dol­lars.

Ser­bian ex­port is more than Azer­bai­jan’s to Ser­bia. Ser­bia ex­ports to Azer­bai­jan from agri­cul­ture to equip­ment, pumps for the oil in­dus­try, gas in­dus­try, fil­ters for the oil and gas in­dus­try.

Azer­bai­jan ex­ports to Ser­bia al­most bu­tane and alu­minum.

We have loaned from Azer­bai­jan sign for the build­ing High­way in Ser­bia on the amount of 308 mil­lion euro, and con­struc­tion is go­ing on.

This is a very good ex­am­ple of a good re­la­tion­ship, Azer­bai­jani and Ser­bian en­gi­neers and work­ers work to­gether, they have din­ner to­gether, they spend time to­gether and this is the best way to im­prove and de­velop the re­la­tion­ship be­tween peo­ple.

Q. In what spheres do you see prospects for de­vel­op­ment of co­op­er­a­tion?

A. We see per­spec­tive in en­ergy and in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ment from Azer­bai­jani side in the fu­ture. There are some projects which has been pre­sented to Azer­bai­jani side, dur­ing the Pres­i­dent's visit, on the Busi­ness fo­rum with the busi­ness peo­ple.

There are a cou­ple of Free Zone in Ser­bia. Agri­cul­ture, phar­ma­col­ogy, ho­tel, re­sort and SPA in­dus­try, other fields which can be de­velop by mu­tual ef­forts. Q. Any Ser­bian com­pa­nies in Azer­bai­jan? A. We have a cou­ple of Ser­bian com­pa­nies in Azer­bai­jan, they are Joint ven­tures. These com­pa­nies are en­gaged in con­struc­tion and en­gi­neer­ing on var­i­ous projects.

In Ser­bia we have Ser­bian Azer­bai­jani Cham­ber of Com­merce. This Cham­ber of Com­merce is very ac­tive. I think this Cham­ber of Com­merce is very help­ful; it sup­ports Azer­bai­jani com­pa­nies, which like to de­velop busi­ness in Ser­bia.

There are a cou­ple of Azer­bai­jani com­pa­nies in Ser­bia, en­gaged, es­pe­cially in for­eign trade of prod­uct, equip­ment, elec­tronic equip­ment. This is very good be­cause when you have com­pany, Joint ven­ture in Azer­bai­jan and Azer­bai­jani com­pany in Ser­bia it helps for de­vel­op­ing our eco­nomic re­la­tion­ship. Q. How many Ser­bians live in Azer­bai­jan? A. We do not have ex­act fig­ures, but there is a cou­ple of hun­dred, may be four or five hun­dreds Ser­bians in Baku. They are en­gaged in en­ergy, con­struc­tion and agri­cul­ture busi­ness.

There are also some Ser­bians who study in Azer­bai­jan. .

We have de­vel­oped our govern­ment pro­gram for for­eign stu­dents and some stu­dents from Azer­bai­jan to our uni­ver­si­ties and it is on­go­ing process.

Q. Now about your im­pres­sions about Azer­bai­jan. What are your first im­pres­sions about our coun­try? Over­all, have your im­pres­sions about it changed since you ar­rived here?

A. My feel­ings are pos­i­tive. What I see since came here it is that the coun­try is de­vel­op­ing.

You can see many chang­ing in Baku and re­gions. And I like it. There are many good spots for de­vel­op­ing tourism. I have been ski­ing in Shahdag. This is the sign that ev­ery­thing is de­vel­op­ing in all fields.

Q. And what do you think, are there any sim­i­lar­ity be­tween our peo­ple?

A. I like Azer­bai­jani peo­ple. There are cer­tain sim­i­lar­ity in char­ac­ter and men­tal­ity of peo­ple from Ser­bia and Azer­bai­jan, Balkan and Cau­ca­sus peo­ple. They have a lot of same habits, same char­ac­ters.

You can see this in ev­ery­day life, in treat­ing fam­ily, treat­ment to­wards guests, to friends. Ser­bian and Azer­bai­jan peo­ple are very hos­pitable.

These is a sim­i­lar­ity which we have in Ser­bia as well as in Azer­bai­jan. This is very nice, to see sim­i­lar­ity, de­spite dif­fer­ences in cul­ture and re­li­gion. We reach a cer­tain level of friend­ship and re­la­tion­ship, sig­nif­i­cant and ex­cel­lent for the young gen­er­a­tion.

Q. What is your im­pres­sion about our meals, mu­sic, cul­ture?

A. I am try­ing to study and in­tro­duce your cul­ture and his­tory. I like your Mugam. I have vis­ited some con­certs and events, which takes place within Mugam fes­ti­val.

And your Mid­dle East Mixed Turk­ish style dishes are same, like our dishes. My favourite meals are “gutab” and “dolma” with leaves, we also have these meals.

The other sim­i­lar­ity be­tween our peo­ple is the men­tal­ity of peo­ple, and I think it helps for co­op­er­a­tion and con­ver­sa­tion with peo­ple more eas­ily.

Q. What is be­ing done to ex­pand tourism co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the two coun­tries?

A. We have a lot of plans to de­velop tourism. There are sev­eral tourism agen­cies from Ser­bia and from Azer­bai­jan, who are in­ter­ested to send groups mu­tu­ally and we sup­port this ac­tiv­ity.

Sev­eral Ser­bian tourism agen­cies, came to Baku to ne­go­ti­ate with Azer­bai­jani coun­ter­parts about re­la­tion­ship and de­velop touris­tic ac­tiv­i­ties. We would like to see more Azer­bai­jani tourists in Ser­bia. We have good re­sorts, SPAs. Bel­grade is one of the most im­por­tant hubs in Europe for night life. There are many restau­rants, ex­cit­ing cul­ture and ex­hi­bi­tions, fes­ti­vals.

We have a lot of fes­ti­vals, such as EXIT mu­sic fes­ti­val, sum­mer fes­ti­val, and the most fa­mous our folk­lore Guca fes­ti­val.


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