By Amina Nazarli
Azerbaijan and Latvia had a broad exchange of views on the current level of the bilateral relations, Azerbaijan-European Union relationship and its future development prospects, as Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics visits Baku.
The issues were discussed at Rinkevics’s meeting with his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov on February 13, where Mammadyarov expressed his confidence that the visit will contribute to the comprehensive development of bilateral relations between the two sides.
Touching upon the relationship of Azerbaijan with the EU, Mammadyarov stressed the importance of the visit of President Ilham Aliyev to Brussels and his meetings in the EU.
The ministers underlined the existence of favorable conditions for expanding cooperation in the fields such as industry, agriculture, transport, construction, ecology, culture, education and tourism, as well as increasing the trade turnover between the two countries. They also stressed the importance of holding business forums and meetings on a regular basis for this purpose.
Minister Mammadyarov further informed his Latvian counterpart about the latest status of the negotiation process towards the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and emphasized that Azerbaijan highly appreciates the support of Latvia for the just position of Azerbaijan on the settlement of the conflict in compliance with the principles of international law, particularly in the framework of territorial integrity, sovereignty and inviolability of internationally recognized borders of the states.
Rinkevics, for his part, expressed his country’s intention to further advance the comprehensive cooperation on the bilateral and multilateral basis with Azerbaijan. He underscored that Latvia supports Azerbaijan’s strategic partnership relations with the EU.
The meeting was followed by signing of an agreement on visa exemption for holders of service passports of the two countries.
Addressing a briefing after the talks with his Latvian counterpart, Mammadyarov said that energy and transportation are the main areas of the Azerbaijan-Latvia economic cooperation and the two countries intend to develop and deepen relations in these areas.
Baku and Riga are interested in expanding economic ties and also plan to hold a business forum, said the Azerbaijani FM.
“Unfortunately, the level of mutual trade now does not meet our expectations. We agreed to try to hold consultations immediately after the [upcoming] arrival of the president of Latvia in Baku. At first, the consultations will take place at the level of foreign ministries, primarily to assess the contractual legal framework,” Mammadyarov said.
Baku and Riga are discussing projects in energy and transportation, according to him.
“Agriculture is a very interesting topic. Latvia is well enough developed in this sphere. Azerbaijan invests heavily in the agricultural sector and there are topics that can be quite interesting,” the minister added.
At a press conference following the meeting, Mammadyarov noted that Azerbaijan-Latvia relations are strategic in nature.
The minister noted that Riga supports the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. He said the development of cooperation within the EU was discussed at today`s meeting.
He pointed out that Azerbaijan and the EU have already started negotiations on a new partnership agreement.
“This agreement creates a good basis for a strategic partnership. We have already established a strategic partnership in the field of energy,” the FM added.
In turn, Rinkevics said that Latvia wants the EU and Azerbaijan to sign a new agreement.
The Latvian FM said that relations between Azerbaijan and the EU should be based on strategic partnership.
“We are preparing for the summit as part of the Eastern Partnership. We will try to ensure the signing of this document before the summit. We are also interested in cooperation in energy and transport fields between the EU and Azerbaijan,” he added.