By Nigar Abbasova
Azerbaijan and Israel, the two strategic partners, are keen to strengthen and expand their cooperation. Although the economic relations between the countries were previously focused on the oil and gas industry, it is now extending to other sectors of the economy.
Israeli Ambassador to Azerbaijan Dan Stav told Trend that Azerbaijan has a huge potential for cooperation with Israel in economic sphere, mentioning the interest of his country in such non-oil sectors as agriculture, pharmaceuticals and IT.
The diplomat noted that, in particular, Israel can help Azerbaijan to increase the production of various agricultural crops, mentioning that one of the most important things is a wise management of water resources.
The envoy said that Israel enjoys huge experience and many companies have come with very ingenious ideas, underlining that the sphere is very promising for cooperation. The ambassador believes that Azerbaijan can generate employment by introducing modern agriculture, as the country has very rich agricultural soil and hardworking people.
"If people see that agriculture is really where you can earn money and have good standard of living, it will also help to develop periphery," he added.
Azerbaijan places a huge emphasis on the development of agriculture in a bid to diversify its economy. Benefiting from international experience is of great importance in this regard.
Agriculture in Israel is a highly developed industry, while the country ranks among world leaders in advanced agricultural technologies, regardless the fact that the geography of the country is not naturally favorable to agriculture. Since its establishment in 1948, the country has almost tripled the territory used for farming and production has multiplied nearly 16 times.
Moreover, the envoy noted that the countries have prospects for strengthening their energy cooperation. The ambassador said that a new tender for exploration of gas will be opened on November 15 in Israel.
"It refers to about 24-69 blocks that we have in Israel and the potential of discovery of these fields stands at about 900-2,100 billion cubic meters," he clarified.
Stav said that Azerbaijan possesses great knowledge in the sphere, mentioning that his country welcomes Azerbaijani companies that will show interest to come and participate in the bidding.
In particular, the envoy said that Israel plans to open "gas to liquid" refinery that will take the gas and transform it into all kinds of liquid energy, which can be used in cars and other areas. The refinery is only at the preliminary stage, while the country is looking for companies that will show interest in trying to explore whether it is feasible to establish the refinery.
He said that the idea of this LGT [liquefied gas technology] is that the Israeli government wants to reduce the use of oil in the transportation sector to 60 percent till 2025.
Moreover, the diplomat is sure that cooperation is also possible between Azerbaijan’s State Oil and Industry University and SOCAR (State Oil Company of Azerbaijan) and certain colleges in Israel.
Stav said also that Azerbaijan and Israel have started to cooperate in the field of medicine.
"There is an exchange between one of the leading Israeli universities – Medical University and the Medical University in Baku," he said adding that pharmaceutical sector is also promising. He said that the main idea is to try to draw investments to Azerbaijan, build factories and start production.
Speaking about the cooperation in the sphere of education and culture, the Israeli ambassador recalled that a framework agreement had been signed between Azerbaijan and Israel before in the sphere of science, culture and youth and due to some unfortunate technical issues, it has been only ratified a few months ago.
The envoy said also the Israel is interested in cooperation with Azerbaijan in the field of technology.
Israel recognized the independence of Azerbaijan very shortly after the official dissolution of the Soviet Union. Diplomatic relations between Azerbaijan and Israel were established in April 1992. Since gaining independence in 1991, Azerbaijan has established a position of one of Israel’s closest friends in the Muslim world.
Over the last twenty years, the ties between Israel and Azerbaijan have improved drastically. The development of economic ties is particularly noticeable, as Israel rose from being Azerbaijan’s tenth largest trading partner to its third in February 2016.
Several synagogues are operating in the capital of Azerbaijan, as well as in Guba and Oguz regions. Synagogue, opened in Baku in 2003 is one of the largest in Europe. In September 2003, the first Jewish school was opened in Baku.
Nigar Abbasova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @nigyar_abbasova
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