TODAY.AZ / Politics

France supports closer ties between Azerbaijan, EU - Ambassador Bouchez

20 November 2017 [10:25] - TODAY.AZ

By  Trend

Trend’s interview with Ambassador of France to Azerbaijan Aurelia Bouchez

Question: How do you assess the current state of the Azerbaijan-France relations following election of Emanuel Macron as the French Republic's President?

Answer: The relations between France and Azerbaijan are strong and have evolved significantly in recent years. The political dialogue is of regular nature and at the highest state level, regular meetings are held between the Presidents of our countries, between the ministers. Given the role of France as the co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, regular visits by Ambassador Stephane Visconti to the Caucasus may serve as an example.

In addition to such a confident and open political dialogue in important international and regional issues, countering terror threats, economic relations, cultural and academic cooperation, cooperation with French local authorities are among the priorities and we actively cooperate with our Azerbaijani partners in these directions. Our goal is to work for peace, prosperity and progress.

I would also like to note that France is supporting the closer ties between Azerbaijan and the European Union. In this regard, the Eastern Partnership Summit to be held in Brussels Nov. 24 is very important.

I am convinced that continuation of the economic reforms initiated by President Ilham Aliyev will serve to further stimulate the participation of investments and foreign capital in the non-oil sector, particularly in agriculture, food, environment and transportation sectors. French companies have already signed important agreements in these sectors.

Naturally, we also consider important to work towards respect for the human values that are native to the French people as well as the Azerbaijani people. I am also glad that 2018 gives us the opportunity to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic.

Q.: Azerbaijan holds an excellent geographic position between the East and the West. How do you assess this and does this geographic position play a role in development of bilateral relations between the two countries?

A.: Azerbaijan plays a key role in the Southern Gas Corridor and East-West energy projects, supported by France and a number of French companies (Total, Engie). However, we are also very interested in Azerbaijan's commitment to regional transport activities.

Baku has ambitions to become a key regional hub for international trade and transit in East-West and North-South directions.

The official opening of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway in Baku with participation of President Ilham Aliyev, First Vice-President Mehriban Aliyeva, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his spouse, Kazakh Prime Minister Bakhytzhan Sagintayev, Georgian Prime Minister Georgi Kvirikashvili, Uzbek Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov, and Tajik and Turkmen delegations is an important step in Baku's turning into a regional and international center.

France's Alstom provided the BTK railway with locomotives and it is likely that the first of these locomotives will be supplied in December 2017.

Q.: Recently, there have been remarkable developments in the humanitarian cooperation between the two countries. What efforts are you exerting in this regard?

A.: The bilateral partnership in education and culture is of great importance and is of high quality. It helps to create a new generation of highly-skilled, multilingual Azerbaijani graduates.

As you know, on Sept. 15-16, Secretary of State for European and Foreign Affairs Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne paid an official visit to Baku to open a new building of the French-Azerbaijan University (UFAZ) with the participation of Education Minister Mikail Jabbarov. The founding of this university was officially announced by the Presidents of Azerbaijan and France in May 2014 and it was established thanks to the partnership between UNISTRA and Baku Oil and Industry University. Thus, September 2017 became a new milestone for the French-Azerbaijani University (UFAZ), well-renovated buildings welcomed a new generation of students. Chemistry, Geophysics, Informatics and Oil Industry are taught through the excellent cooperation between Strasbourg University, Renn University, and the Oil and Industry University.

The bilateral parliamentary dialogue has a wonderful future. On Nov. 2-4, Pierre Alain Raphan, a parliamentarian with "La République En Marche!" party, elected from Essonne, who is also the new chairman of the France-Azerbaijan Friendship Group at the National Assembly, paid an official visit to Baku upon the invitation of the Government of Azerbaijan.

Mr. Raphan, accompanied by Azerbaijani Ambassador to France Rahman Mustafayev, was received by Azerbaijan's President, First Vice-President, Speaker of the Milli Majlis and Foreign Minister. Mr. Raphan also visited the French Lyceum in Baku and the French-Azerbaijani University and emphasized the excellence of our cooperation in the field of education. Mr. Raphan also met with Youth and Sports Minister Azad Rahimov, who is very closely involved in the development of culture and sports.

I would like to note that the partnership between France and Azerbaijan in the field of culture is developing both in Baku and in the regions. This is the result of the activities of the French Institute in Azerbaijan (IFA), whose mission is to develop the French language and organize events between Azerbaijan and France and conduct cultural exchanges.

It is enough to remember three events that have been greatly appreciated by the public in Baku: the documentary "Thomas Pesquet, l'envoyé spatial" (The space envoy Thomas Pesquet), which was screened at the IMAGINE Euro Tolerance Festival 2017, organized by the Delegation of the European Union and the EU Member States' Embassies in Azerbaijan, a concert of French accordionist Richard Galliano and Yalchin Adigozalov accompanied by the Baku Symphony Orchestra, dedicated to the 25th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between France and Azerbaijan and attended by Azerbaijani Culture Minister Abulfaz Garayev, and screening of the "Lumière!", a film by the Cannes Film Festival General Delegate Thierry Frémaux dedicated to creation of cinematography, at the 8th European Film Festival in Baku.


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