By Amina Nazarli
Azerbaijan and Vietnam, despite nearly 7,000km separating the two countries, are eager to further deepening the mutually beneficial cooperation and increase the trade turnover.
The two agreed to take measures to boost the cooperation via party, government and parliamentary channels, covering the fields of economy-trade, investment, energy, transport, culture and education-training.
To mull the cooperation issues and attend events marking the 25th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between Baku and Hanoi, Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov has visited Vietnam, where he had high-level talks.
Azerbaijan and Vietnam have great potential for cooperation in various fields and therefore need to promote an intergovernmental commission on economic, trade, scientific and technical cooperation, said Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc as he received Mammadyarov on September 14.
The Prime Minister further said that Vietnam was willing to export its key products and import machinery, components and crude oil products from Azerbaijan.
Mammadyarov, in turn, said that 2017 is significant for the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries and stressed that within the framework of his official visit to the conference negotiations were held on the prospects of Azerbaijani-Vietnamese relations.
The Foreign Minister also informed about the transport corridor "North-South", which is implemented with the initiative and direct participation of Azerbaijan, and noted that Azerbaijan can also provide transport communication between Vietnam and Europe.
Transport and logistics capabilities were also the main topic of the meeting between Mammadyarov and his Vietnamese counterpart Pham Binh Minh on September 13.
Vietnam is interested in increasing export to Europe, the Azerbaijani foreign minister said, adding that Vietnam’s joining the North-South transport corridor, serving as a link connecting the railways of Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia, will greatly reduce the transport route from Vietnam to Europe.
Mammadyarov noted that there are vast opportunities for expanding economic and trade relations between Azerbaijan and Vietnam, and said that it is useful to conduct mutual business forums to identify such opportunities and explore new areas of cooperation.
In turn, the Vietnamese FM said cooperation between the two countries in the transport and logistics sector will open a new stage in relations. Binh Minh also expressed his country's interest in cooperation in such areas as energy, agriculture and trade.
He further added that the memorandum of understanding on cooperation in agriculture and rural development between the Ministries of Agriculture of Azerbaijan and Vietnam, which was signed in 2015, has created a favorable ground for enhancing mutually beneficial cooperation in the field of agriculture and has opened numerous opportunities.
The ministers stressed favorable opportunities available for the development of trade and economic cooperation between the two countries, as well as the importance of holding business forums.
Receiving Mammadyarov on the same day, Tran Tuan Anh, Vietnamese Industry and Trade Minister, co-chairman of the intergovernmental commission on trade and economic cooperation, noted that Vietnam is considering Azerbaijan’s offer to use its transport and logistics capabilities to enter the European market.
The parties discussed prospects for cooperation between the two countries in the spheres of economy, trade, energy, education, as well as export of products of Azerbaijani companies manufacturing oil equipment to the Vietnamese market.
In Hanoi, Mammadyarov also met with member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam and member of the Permanent Secretariat Tran Quoc Vuong, who said that Azerbaijan and Vietnam are friendly countries.
The sides exchanged views on the prospects of cooperation between the two countries in the fields of investment, energy, transport, education and other spheres.
Mammadyarov introduced Rauf Aliyev, Member of Parliament of Azerbaijan and the New Azerbaijan Party, and added that the relations between the New Azerbaijan Party and the Communist Party of Vietnam are developing successfully.
Attending the conference titled “25 years of Vietnam-Azerbaijan relations: achievements and future prospects” was held in Hanoi, Mammadyarov noted that the two countries will celebrate 25th Anniversary of establishment of diplomatic on September 23.
Mammadyarov said that the establishment of the Azerbaijani Embassy in Hanoi in 2013 was a clear indication of the intention to develop bilateral relations with Vietnam.
“Azerbaijan strongly hopes that Vietnam will consider opening its Embassy in Baku as we believe in effectiveness of joint diplomatic efforts in bringing our bilateral relations to a new high. Thus, the establishment of the Embassy of Vietnam in Baku will play important role from the point of view of the fast development of cooperation across the whole spectrum of relations,” he said.
The FM expressed satisfaction with the current ties between the two sides, noting that the relations are expanding and deepening in recent years with more dynamism in mutually beneficial way.
Underlining the importance of mutual visits of the Presidents of the two countries, including the state visit of President Ilham Aliyev to Vietnam in 2014, and official visit of Vietnamese former President Truong Tang Sang to Azerbaijan in 2015, Mammadyarov said that these visits gave a strong impetus to the accelerated development of the mutually beneficial cooperation and identified areas for future expansion of these relations in various fields.
Mentioning close cooperation between the ruling parties of the two states, the New Azerbaijan Party and the Communist Party of Vietnam, the FM recalled the Memorandum of Cooperation signed in 2013.
“There is a full mutual understanding on political issues among our countries, and thus political relations are at a high level. Mutually beneficial cooperation is being expanded in this direction. Unfortunately, the level of cooperation in the economic sphere does not meet the big potential of our countries. In this regard, both parties have the intention to activate the economic cooperation. It should be underlined the creation of the Intergovernmental Commission on Economic, Trade, Scientific and Technical Cooperation. Establishment of Commission is an important step aimed at the development of bilateral relations and of course its first successful meeting in January 16, 2017 opened new opportunities for further enhancing bilateral cooperation,” he said.
Mammadyarov went on speaking about the major problem that Azerbaijan has been facing since the independence - ongoing occupation of 20 percent of its territories by the neighboring Armenia.
“Unfortunately, no substantive progress has been achieved in the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. Armenia continues illegal occupation of the internationally recognized territories of Azerbaijan, in the most brutal violation of international law, UN Charter and United Nations Security Council resolutions 822, 853, 874 and 884 adopted in 1993 which condemn Armenia for the occupation of Azerbaijani territories and demand immediate withdrawal from the occupied Azerbaijani territories,” he said.
Azerbaijan urges the international community to condemn Armenia for blatant violation of international law and insists on the implementation of the afore mentioned UN Security Council resolutions, said Mammadyarov, adding that the conflict can only be resolved on the basis of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan within its internationally recognized borders.
In turn, Deputy Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son said that the Vietnamese remembered and were grateful for what Azerbaijan has done for Vietnam.
More than 4,000 Vietnamese students have studied in Azerbaijan and many of them made great contributions to national defense and construction. Many also now occupy key positions in State and Governmental agencies, he noted.
Son said that in the first half of this year, two-way trade between Vietnam and Azerbaijan reached $114 million, as much as double during the same period last year. But he noted this figure did not represent the two countries’ potential and expectations.
Vietnam could offer Azerbaijan farming products, handicrafts and electrical components while Azerbaijan could help Vietnam in oil refineries, education and high technologies, he said, adding that Vietnam wanted to make oil production a key area of industrial co-operation between the two countries.