By Sara Rajabova
Azerbaijan, an energy-rich country on the Caspian shore, and Panama, a Central American country linking the North Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, are seeking to develop relations in various fields.
Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov has made an official visit to Panama, where he discussed developing cooperation between the two countries.
A memorandum of understanding on bilateral consultations between Azerbaijan and Panama’s foreign ministries was signed during a meeting between Mammadyarov and Isabel de Sant Malo de Alvarado, the vice president and foreign minister of Panama on October 5.
Expressing her satisfaction with welcoming her Azerbaijani counterpart in Panama, Alvarado highlighted that this official visit would significantly contribute to the cooperation between the two countries, the Azerbaijani foreign ministry reported.
Stressing Panama’s interest in developing the relations with Azerbaijan, Alvarado mentioned that signing the document on consultations between the foreign ministries would serve to establish a mechanism for bilateral political dialogue.
Mammadyarov, for his part, said Azerbaijan puts special emphasis on the comprehensive development of relations with Central and South American countries on its foreign policy agenda.
He underlined the importance of enlarging the current relations between Azerbaijan and Panama in other fields of cooperation, including energy and investment sectors, noting the establishment of a legal framework for cooperation with relevant intergovernmental documents and the development of a bilateral treaty-legal base between the countries.
Mammadyarov also talked about windows of opportunity on cooperation in education, training and other humanitarian fields and added that the establishment of contacts between ADA University and Panama Diplomatic Institute would be mutually beneficial.
He informed his counterpart about the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project, the newly built Baku International Sea Trade Port and Azerbaijan’s potential in transport infrastructure. The minister underlined that those projects would contribute to significantly increase of the transit of goods and improve economic-trade relations along the historical Silk Road.
Furthermore, Alvarado highlighted that a favorable investment climate has been established in Panama and characterized Azerbaijan as a desirable partner.
Mammadyarov also touched upon the ongoing negotiation process on the settlement of Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict and thanked Panama for its fair and just position based on the principles of international law in respect of this conflict.
He also expressed gratitude to Panama’s parliament for the adoption of a resolution on reaffirming its support for territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan and recognizing the Khojaly genocide committed by the Armenian armed forces in the early 1990s.
Mammadyarov stressed that Armenia disregards the UN Security Council’s four resolutions demanding immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of occupying forces from all occupied territories of Azerbaijan and in doing so puts obstacles in the process of conflict settlement.
He also added that Armenia is willing to maintain the status quo based on occupation and aggression and exploits confidence-building measures under political speculations. He mentioned that the establishment of direct contacts between the Armenian and Azerbaijani communities of the Nagorno Karabakh region of Azerbaijan doesn’t fit into the interests of Armenian government and therefore Yerevan rejects the process.
The Panamanian minister highlighted that the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the states are principles of high importance for her country.
Later, Mammadyarov invited his counterpart to visit Azerbaijan.
The minister further met with acting Panamanian Commerce and Industry Minister Nestor Gonzales.
The sides noted the existence of solid opportunities for cooperation between Azerbaijan and Panama in the fields of economy, transport, investment and energy.
Pointing out that in terms of economic growth, Panama is the leading state in the region of Central and South America, Gonzalez discussed measures taken by the Panamanian government and the favorable conditions set for attracting foreign investors.
Noting that most of Panama’s revenues are accumulated from the Panama Canal, he stressed the possibility of joining Azerbaijani investors with companies to work on the infrastructure and service sector of the canal.
Mammadyarov then discussed the existence of ample opportunities for the development of cooperation in various fields between the two countries, underlining the importance of holding business forums and exchanging of business missions for the promotion of economic and trade relations.
He informed his interlocutor about the Azerbaijani economy, particularly the dynamic development of the non-oil sector, the competitiveness of national economy and favorable opportunities created for foreign investors.
Noting the rich experience of Azerbaijan in the energy field, the sides also discussed the possibilities of cooperation in this field.
During his Panama visit, Mammadyarov also met this country’s National Assembly’s chairman Ruben de Leon Sanchez.
Noting that Azerbaijan and Panama have close ties within the framework of the international organizations, particularly United Nations and Non-Aligned Movement, Mammadyarov said the two countries' positions coincide on many issues.
Sanchez expressed his intention to visit Azerbaijan.
Mammadyarov, drawing attention to the importance of parliament diplomacy in the development of friendship and cooperation between the two countries, welcomed Sanchez’s intention to visit Azerbaijan.