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Azerbaijan, Malta mull existing ties, future cooperation

29 April 2016 16:28 (UTC+04:00)
Azerbaijan, Malta mull existing ties, future cooperation

By Aynur Karimova

Caspian’s energy-rich Azerbaijan and Mediterranean’s tiny island country Malta have discussed the existing relations in various fields, as well as future prospects of the bilateral cooperation.

The discussions were held during Maltese Foreign Minister Minister George Vella's visit to Azerbaijan on April 29.

President Ilham Aliyev received the minister on April 29. During the meeting, President Aliyev said that the two countries enjoy active partner relations, and stressed the importance of boosting these ties.

President Aliyev highly appreciated participation of Maltese President Malta Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca in the 7th Global Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, which was held in Baku on April 25-27.

The head of state said that during the visit of the Maltese president, the two countries discussed development of cooperation in political, economic, energy, investment making and other fields.

President Aliyev said Malta is actively involved in Azerbaijan-European Union cooperation.

The head of state recalled the last year visit of Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to the country, and described the trip of the Maltese Foreign Minister to Baku as a sign of dynamic continuation of cooperation.

Vella, in turn, said Malta is interested in further expanding ties with Azerbaijan, adding that there is good potential for strengthening bilateral relations not only in energy sector but also in several other fields to the benefit of both sides.

Vella also stressed the importance of exploring the opportunities in this regard.

Malta supports Azerbaijan

As part of the visit to Baku, Vella also met his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov and the two top diplomats discussed the future cooperation matters, including the prospects for cooperation in energy sphere.

Later, speaking at the press conference, Mammadyarov said that Azerbaijan and Malta signed documents on cooperation in customs sphere, youth policy and an agreement on consultations between the foreign ministries of the two countries.

Vella, in turn, announced that a new stage of relations will start in the Azerbaijani-Maltese relations.

"There are many promising areas for cooperation that could be mutually beneficial for both countries," he said, adding that Malta is an appropriate country for cooperation in the economic field.

He also invited Azerbaijan's entrepreneurs to set cooperation with Malta.

Vella went on to add that Malta supports the peaceful settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

"We are concerned over the escalation of the situation on the line of contact and support the continuation of the peace talks," he said, adding that the military operations should be stopped.

Malta supports the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group in the conflict's settlement, Vella added.

The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts. The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations.

Diplomatic relations between Azerbaijan and Malta was established in January 1995.

Trade turnover between Malta and Azerbaijan amounted to $142 million in 2015, and almost the entire amount accounted for the exports to Malta, according to Azerbaijan's State Customs Committee.

Azerbaijan's trade turnover with Malta totaled almost $13.3 million in the first quarter of 2016, which is almost twice more than in January-March 2015.

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Follow Aynur Karimova on Twitter @Aynur_Karimova

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