Azerbaijan, Israel discuss prospects for cooperation

25 January 2019 10:25 (UTC+04:00)

By Leman Mammadova

A working group of the Azerbaijan-Israel intergovernmental commission for economic cooperation is in Israel to discuss the prospects for cooperation in industry, tourism and education, Lev Spivak, head of the Israel-Azerbaijan International Association AzIz, told Trend on January 24.

The visit ends today, Friday.

The working group includes the representatives of the Azerbaijani Ministry of Taxes, Ministry of Economy, the National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan, the Azerbaijan State Oil and Industry University, the Azerbaijani-French University, the Baku International Sea Port and the Sumgait Chemical Industrial Park.

“The Azerbaijani delegation got acquainted with the Port of Haifa, industrial zones, universities (including the Israel Institute of Technology) and the country's opportunities in tourism sector during the visit,” Spivak said.

During the visit, the delegation also visited one of the northernmost cities of Israel, Ma'alot-Tarshiha. In the recent municipal elections, Arkady Pomeranets, who was born in Baku, became the mayor of Ma'alot-Tarshiha.

Besides the mayor, the guests were welcomed by Spivak, deputy mayor of Ma'alot-Tarshiha Hemed Naim, member of the city council Nahle Tanus, member of the city council Shimon Biton, director general of the municipality Amit Levin, heads of divisions and departments of the municipality and public representatives.

During the meeting, the opportunities for further mutually beneficial cooperation in preschool education and higher education, tourism and industry were discussed.

The intergovernmental commission between the two countries was established in December 2016.

The commission is headed by Minister of Taxes Mikayil Jabbarov from the Azerbaijani side, and by Minister of Ecology, Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage Elkin Zeev from the Israeli side.

The first meeting of the intergovernmental commission was held in Jerusalem in May 2018.

According to the State Customs Committee of Azerbaijan, the trade turnover with Israel amounted to $ 1.3 billion in 2018. Almost all trade turnover accounted for the export of Azerbaijani products to Israel. While the trade turnover between Azerbaijan and Israel amounted to $ 671.6 million in 2017, about $32.7 million of this amount accounted for the import of Israeli products.

The trade turnover between the countries almost doubled in a year.

Azerbaijan holds 40-45 percent share in energy imports of Israel. Azerbaijan and Israel also have reliable military partnerships. Israel plays role of an important ally in supplying Azerbaijani army with most modern weapons. Azerbaijan was among the top three countries in the list of Israeli arms importers in 2017.

Recently, Azerbaijan has started production of a new unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) - “Pegasus 120.” The new UAV is produced jointly with the Israeli company Aeronautics at AZAD Systems Co. production branch of Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defense Industry.

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 the best impressions.

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.

Azerbaijan has a huge potential for cooperation with Israel in economic sphere, particularly in such non-oil sectors as agriculture, pharmaceuticals and IT. Agriculture in Israel is a highly developed industry, while the country is listed among world leaders in advanced agricultural technologies, regardless the fact that the geography of the country is not naturally favorable for agriculture.

The partnership between the two nations is based not only on political, economic and energy cooperation, but also on 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. Estimated 9,000 Jews in the country are "fully part" of Azerbaijani society.

Several synagogues are operating in the capital of Azerbaijan, as well as in Guba and Oguz regions. Synagogue, opened in Baku in 2003, is one of the largest in Europe. In September 2003, the first Jewish school was opened in Baku.

In 2016, a branch of Baku International Multiculturalism Centre (BIMC) has been opened in Israel aimed at increase of the international community's awareness of Azerbaijan's and Israel's history and culture.

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