As Belarus premier embarks on Azerbaijan visit, expert weighing the pros and cons [INTERVIEW]
By Ayya Lmahamad
Belarus Prime Minister Raman Halowchanka (Roman Golovchenko) will pay a working visit to Azerbaijan on May 18, Azernews reports.
The two-day visit program includes meetings with the country’s leadership, a visit to the Ganja automobile plant, international exhibitions Caspian Agro and Inter Food, as well as industrial enterprise Iglim. A business meeting between the business circles of the two countries is also planned as part of the visit.
A political-military analyst of Belarus, professor of the Academy of Military Sciences of Russia, Alexander Tikhansky, commenting on the visit of Golovchenko to Azerbaijan in an interview with Azernews, stated that the visit will focus on concrete and practical issues in general.
“If the Azerbaijani side is not interested in some areas, maybe they have more favorable proposals from other states, then we need to find new ones. That is, in general, how Golovchenko announces his visit to Azerbaijan,” the expert said.
He added that the visit also includes the need to identify if there are opportunities to increase trade turnover between the two countries, in the light of those tough sanctions, in which Belarus finds itself.
“Therefore, today it is simply necessary for both Azerbaijan and Belarus to get a real, so to speak, cross-section of the situation and identify points of growth that we can promote and substantively discuss. This is the main goal of the visit,” he said.
Speaking about the bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and Belarus, the expert noted that the development of relations between the two countries is a progressive process.
“We can find such a reference point in this on November 12 last year, when the Belarus president received Azerbaijani ambassador, and two days later President of Azerbaijan had an audience with the Belarus ambassador. During these meetings, an exchange of opinions took place between Baku and Minsk,” he said.
Tikhansky adds that formally the history of the Azerbaijani-Belarus diplomatic relations counts more than a quarter of a century [established on June 11, 1993]. He stressed that the bilateral relations between the two countries have gone a long and worthy way toward progressive development.
“I will even say that Belarus will never forget Azerbaijan's steps towards Belarus. When it was necessary to pay off a debt for Russian gas, Azerbaijan lent money to Belarus without any commission, without any interest. Yes, Belarus returned the money, but the point is that it was important to receive them back then. And in principle Belarusians still remember it,” he said.
The expert underlined that even the pandemic did not affect the bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and Russia. He quoted Belarus’s President Alexander Lukashenko's words that “true friends do not put off activities that need to be carried out in time, and no pandemic can interfere with that”.
“That’s how our relations are at the moment, including in the military-political sphere. Belarus has repeatedly stated that it wants to see Azerbaijan as a member of the CSTO, even in spite of Armenia’s position,” he added.
Speaking about the current regional situation, which arise after Azerbaijan’s victory in the Second Karabakh War and the liberation of its territories from Armenian occupation, the expert noted that Belarus, as one of the key members of the CSTO, has always been in favor of peacekeeping initiatives.
“And although we have military-political, military-economic relations both with Armenia and Azerbaijan, at the same time, I would like to recall that literally within five-six years military-technical cooperation between Belarus and Azerbaijan has reached almost half a billion dollars. It should be noted,” he said.
Tikhansky added that Azerbaijan is also the closest ally of Turkey and its direct position on the admission of the new NATO members, which is very important for Belarus.
Diplomatic relations between the countries were established on June 11, 1993. The two countries are cooperating in various sectors of the economy, such as agriculture, transport, remote sensing services, etc.
The trade turnover between Azerbaijan and Belarus amounted to $424.4 million, with the exports accounting for $295.5 million and imports for $128.9 million in 2021.
Railway passenger coaches, fiberboard of wood, butter, medicaments, furniture, wood sawn or chipped lengthwise, beef, electric transformers, and cheese are the main export goods to Azerbaijan. From Azerbaijan, Belarus imports polymers of propylene, tomatoes, fruits, nuts, fresh fruits, fruit and vegetable juices, and others.
Since 2007, a number of joint projects in the field of industrial cooperation have been launched including assembly lines of Belarusian tractors and trucks. The leader of the Belarusian-Azerbaijani cooperation in the sphere of industrial cooperation is the Ganja automobile plant.
At a meeting with representatives of the public and expert community, Belarus, and foreign media in 2019, President Alexander Lukashenko stressed that relations between Belarus and Azerbaijan are an example of relations between the two Christian and Muslim states.
Ayya Lmahamad is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @AyyaLmahamad
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