By Sara Rajabova
Azerbaijan, on the cradle of the Caspian Sea, and Vietnam, a country of breathtaking natural beauty in Southeast Asia, are keen on expanding strategic cooperation in various fields.
The successful development of relations between the two countries was highlighted during an official visit by Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang to Baku.
Following the officials welcoming on May 14, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang held one-on-one and extended meetings.
The sides stressed that there are very good prospects to expand political dialogue, cooperation in economic, energy, humanitarian, tourism, education, staff training, construction, infrastructure, and the other fields.
Later, during a press conference along with his Vietnamese counterpart, the Azerbaijani President expressed confidence that visit by Vietnamese President to Azerbaijan will be an important stage in the development of Baku-Hanoi relations.
“We attach great importance to this visit. The reciprocal visits throughout the year show that the relations between the two countries are intensive,” President Aliyev said.
He added that broad discussions have been held on bilateral relations in various spheres today.
“We once again became convinced that the positions of the two countries coincide on many issues. Currently, the political relations are at a very high level and the reciprocal visits testify for that,” President Aliyev said.
At the same time, the two countries successfully cooperate within international organizations, the president noted.
“Following today’s negotiations, we decided to support each other in all international organizations in the future as well,” President Aliyev said, adding that it is a very important issue, since it clearly shows the high level of bilateral relations.
Azerbaijan and Vietnam share long-standing historical relations. The foundation of traditional and friendly relations between the two countries was laid by Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh's visit to Azerbaijan in 1959 and Azerbaijani people's national leader Heydar Aliyev's visit to Vietnam in 1983.
In the last two years relations between the two countries were boosted with the establishment of the Azerbaijani embassy in Vietnam in 2013 and the state visit of President Aliyev to Vietnam in May 2014.
The Azerbaijani and Vietnamese presidents also exchanged views on the regional security issues.
President Aliyev briefed his Vietnamese counterpart about the ongoing processes in the region, stressing that the main issue for regional security is the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
He expressed regret that this issue remains unresolved for many years, noting that Armenia continues occupation in defiance of the UN Security Council’s four resolutions on unconditional withdrawal of Armenian armed forces from Azerbaijani lands.
“More than one million Azerbaijanis have become refugees and IDPs in their native land as a result of this occupation and ethnic cleansing policy. The policy of ethnic cleansing was carried out against us. Twenty percent of our territory is still under occupation,” President Aliyev said.
He said many international organizations have expressed their fair position on this issue, adding that UN and its Security Council, the OSCE, the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, as well as Organization of Non-Aligned Movement - all of these prestigious organizations have unanimously adopted relevant decisions and resolutions supporting Azerbaijan.
President Aliyev said this and all the other issues must be resolved on the basis of international law.
“The fundamental principle of international law is territorial integrity of the countries. In this regard, the international community must demonstrate a unified position. There should be no discrimination. The territorial integrity of all countries should be guided by the same approach,” he said.
Azerbaijani President also expressed satisfaction that the trade turnover between the two countries is at a high level, noting it can grow further.
He went on to say that a specific action plan should be prepared in this regard, highlighting good opportunities to increase trade turnover.
Speaking about the issues of mutual investment, President Aliyev said both Vietnamese and Azerbaijani companies have already experienced in these field.
One of main topics of discussion between the Azerbaijani and Vietnamese presidents was the cooperation in oil and gas field.
Noting that at the time, Azerbaijani experts have worked in the field of oil and gas and shared their experiences in Vietnam, President Aliyev invited Vietnamese companies to Azerbaijan.
“Azerbaijan has rich oil and gas fields. We would like to see Vietnamese companies’ participation in development of these fields. At the same time, the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan - SOCAR has already become an international energy company and with great interest is making efforts to work in Vietnam,” he said.
Azerbaijani president also noted that the humanitarian cooperation was in the spotlight of discussions, adding there is wonderful experience, traditions in this area.
He further underlined that the two countries will expand cooperation and further strengthen the friendship in the future.
President Truong Tan Sang expressed satisfaction with his visit to Azerbaijan, noting that there are good opportunities for further enhancing cooperation in economic and trade fields.
Speaking about development of economic relations between the countries, the Vietnamese president said this area has good perspectives.
He said the trade turnover in 2014 amounted to $422 million, which means 30 percent increase compared to 2013. He also stressed the importance of expanding cooperation in oil and gas field.
The Vietnamese president noted the importance of peaceful and negotiated solution of problems to ensure the regional security.
Prior to the press conference, a signing ceremony of Azerbaijani-Vietnamese documents was held with the participation of Azerbaijani and Vietnamese presidents.
Rovnag Abdullayev, president of the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan and Nguyen Quoc Khanh, president and director general of Vietnam Oil and Gas Group signed the memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the oil and gas industry between SOCAR and Petrovietnam.
Heydar Asadov, Azerbaijan’s agriculture minister and Vu Van Tam, deputy Vietnam’s agriculture and rural development minister signed the memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the fields of agriculture and rural development between the Ministry of Agriculture of Azerbaijan and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam.
The agreement on cooperation and mutual assistance in customs sphere between Azerbaijan and Vietnam was signed by Aydin Aliyev, chairman of Azerbaijan State Customs Committee and Do Hoang Anh Tuan, deputy Vietnamese finance minister.
The memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the transport sector between the Ministries of Transport of Azerbaijan and Vietnam was signed by Ziya Mammadov, Azerbaijani transport minister and Nguyen Ngoc Dong, deputy Vietnamese transport minister.
Also, the agreement on air communication between the Azerbaijani and Vietnamese governments was signed by Mammadov and Nguyen Ngoc Dong.
The diplomatic relations between the two countries were established on September 23, 1992.
Azerbaijan and Vietnam have set a common goal to increase their bilateral trade turnover to $1 billion in the near future.