By Kamila Aliyeva
A ceremony on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel was held in Baku on May 2 with the participation of Ambassador of Israel Dan Stav and Azerbaijan's Taxes Minister Mikail Jabbarov.
Azerbaijan is interested in Israel's experience in developing the non-oil sector of the economy, Jabbarov said speaking at the ceremony.
“Azerbaijan and Israel have achieved significant success in bilateral cooperation. We successfully cooperate in such sectors as armament, agriculture and tourism, and we hope for deepening cooperation in economic diversification,” he said.
The minister further conveyed President Ilham Aliyev's congratulations to the people of Israel on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the State of Israel, noting that the friendship between the peoples of Israel and Azerbaijan has historical roots.
“Azerbaijan has played the role of a stronghold of multiculturalism for many years. We have become a home for representatives of various religions and peoples. And the people of Israel also have always felt comfortably in Azerbaijan, where there is no and has never been a room for anti-Semitism,” he said.
Jabbarov also voiced confidence that the cooperation between Azerbaijan and Israel will only expand in the future, as the increasing trade turnover between the two countries shows.
According to the Azerbaijani State Customs Committee, trade turnover between Azerbaijan and Israel amounted to $671.6 million in 2017, of which about $32.7 million accounted for the import of Israeli products.
The number of Israeli tourists visiting Azerbaijan will triple in 2018 and exceed 50,000, Dan Stav then said at a press conference.
“Tourism is one of the areas where Azerbaijan and Israel successfully develop cooperation. The number of tourists coming to Azerbaijan from Israel is growing, and all tourists visiting Azerbaijan return home with excellent impressions,” he said.
The diplomat further noted that the existence of the Jewish community in Azerbaijan from ancient times is a special part of bilateral relations.
“Jewish communities have always lived in peace and harmony with their neighbors. Many of them migrate to Israel and play the role of a bridge between the two nations and the two countries,” he said.
The envoy also noted that in addition to tourism, Azerbaijan and Israel are expanding cooperation in the agriculture sector, adding that the number of Israeli companies in the country is increasing every year.
“Israel became the fourth state to recognize Azerbaijan's independence back in the 1990s. However, our cooperation and friendly relations have deeper roots. The celebration of the anniversary of our independence here in Baku is of special importance for me as Azerbaijan also marks the centenary of the establishment of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic,” Stav said.
Israir Airlines & Tourism Ltd., an Israeli airline based at Sde Dov Airport (SDV) in Tel Aviv, is carrying out flights to Baku three times a week, as part of tourist packages. The direct flight is of great significance in terms of mutual increase in tourism turnover.
He voiced confidence that the bilateral cooperation between Azerbaijan and Israel will develop even more actively, covering more areas in the future.
Stav went on to say that a meeting of the Azerbaijan-Israel joint intergovernmental commission will be held in May.
“A protocol determining the areas for further development of bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and Israel will be signed at a meeting to be held in Israel,” he said.
Azerbaijan is one of the few majority Muslim countries that has robust relationship with Israel.
The partnership between the two nations is based not only on political, economic and energy cooperation, but also shared cultural values, due to a fact that a large Jewish community lives in Azerbaijan. Today’s friendly relations between Azerbaijan and Israel are built on centuries of Jewish-Azerbaijani coexistence.
The strategic relationship between the two countries covers trade and security matters, cultural and educational exchanges. The two states also cooperate closely in the field of energy, with Israel buying about 40 percent of its oil from Azerbaijan.
Kamila Aliyeva is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Kami_Aliyeva
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