Azerbaijan, Tajikistan discuss expansion of ties (UPDATE)

By Aynur Jafarova

Cooperation between Tajikistan and Azerbaijan in the political, economic, defense, regional security, trade and investment fields, as well as expansion of scientific and cultural ties was high on the agenda of talks held between Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his Tajik counterpart Emomali Rahmon.

President Aliyev, who arrived in Tajikistan on an official visit on October 15, was officially welcomed by the Tajik president at the Palace of Nations in Dushanbe on October 16. After the official welcoming ceremony, the two presidents held a one-on-one meeting.

During the official talks held in an expanded format the sides reviewed the two countries' achievements in the fields of economy and trade, and stressed the importance to further strengthen the activities of the Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation.

The two leaders also noted the importance to develop direct relations between the business circles of the two countries, expressed readiness to strengthen and expand the interaction in the security and defense fields, as well as cooperation in combating against terrorism, extremism and other threats of the modern world.

Later, the two leaders attended a ceremony of signing Azerbaijan-Tajikistan documents.

The two countries signed a joint declaration, an agreement on cooperation on civil defense, prevention and elimination of emergency situations, an agreement on cooperation in the field of quarantine of plants, an agreement on cooperation in the field of healthcare, as well as an agreement on scientific cooperation between the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences and the Tajik Academy of Sciences.

After the signing ceremony, President Aliyev and President Rahmon held a joint press conference.

President Rahmon said they discussed a wide range of bilateral, regional and global issues and reviewed various priority fields for expanding the cooperation.

"In this context, we expressed our hope for increasing investments of Azerbaijan's business circles in the construction of hydropower facilities and oil and gas industry of Tajikistan, exploration of mineral resources, as well as cooperation of banking systems of the two countries," he noted.

Rahmon also said weak transport and communication ties are the main obstacle in increasing the trade relations between the two countries.

"We are interested in the revival of the Great Silk Way within the TRACECA project. The Permanent Secretariat of Intergovernmental Commission of TRACECA is located in Baku," Rahmon added.

The Tajik president went on adding that his country is also interested in establishing direct flights between the two countries.

Touching on the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Rahmon said Tajikistan supports the peaceful solution of the conflict on the basis of relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council.

President Aliyev, for his part, said Baku takes serious steps to expand trade and economic cooperation with Tajikistan.

He noted that Azerbaijan plans to commission several new transport infrastructures, including ports in near future.

"These facilities will ensure the cargo transportation via short and reliable ways to Asian and European countries," the Azerbaijani president added.

President Aliyev supported President Rahmon's ideas about the necessity to develop transport infrastructure to increase the trade relations between the two countries.

"The transport infrastructure is of great necessity to expand the trade-economic cooperation between Azerbaijan and Tajikistan," he said.

As part of the visit to Tajikistan, President Aliyev also visited a statue of Ismoili Somoni in Tajik National Solidarity and Revival complex in Dusty square. He was also awarded with a diploma of the Honorary Doctor of Tajik National University and selected as the Honorary Member of the Council.

Azerbaijan and Tajikistan, both post-Soviet republics established diplomatic relations on May 29, 1992.

The two countries' cooperation reached a new level in 2008, when an intergovernmental commission on trade and economic cooperation launched. It coordinates the realization of economic ties and develops new offers for future cooperation.

Currently, the legal base of Azerbaijan and Tajikistan relations consists of over 30 documents. This legal base paves the way for strengthening and developing future political, economic, humanitarian banking, as well as investment relations between them.

The trade turnover between Azerbaijan and Tajikistan amounted to $11 million in the first half of 2014, and it enjoys great capacity to increase in the coming years. Tajikistan purchases aluminum oxide, coke and other raw materials.