THE THINKING OF FUTURE
WE REVEAL ALL THE SECRETS OF WORLD POLITICS

Contemporary Azerbaijan-Belgium Relations

You are here: Main page »» Economics »»
 0 comment Line Spacing+- AFont Size+- Print
4550
Line Spacing+- AFont Size+- Print

Baku, 31 October 2016 – Newtimes.az

Carine Petit

Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador

of the Kingdom of Belgium in Azerbaijan

Introduction

The relations between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Kingdom of Belgium have expanded in a multi-faceted manner during the last 25 years. Belgium recognized the independence of Azerbaijan on December 31, 1991, and diplomatic relations were established on June 17, 1992. Since then there has been an all-round growth of the relations with progress at various levels and across a broad spectrum of areas. Indeed, Azerbaijan and Belgium share common points as countries who find themselves at the crossroads of their respective regions; countries that have embraced multiculturalism, promote intercultural dialogue and have played constructive roles in the international community.

As the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium to the Republic of Azerbaijan since august 2013, I have had the honour to observe and engage in a significant development of the friendly bilateral relations. Two high-level visits in 2015 illustrated this trend: Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Didier Reynders’s visit was the highest political visit since the opening of the Embassy in 2007 and the important mission led by State Secretary of State for Trade Pieter DE Crem with 40 Belgian companies was a milestone in the economic relations.

Political relations

Today, the bilateral relations are very good and feature more exchanges, deeper cooperation, and broader converging interests. The expansion of the cooperation during the last 25 years has transformed the nature of the bilateral relations and has led to the opening of the Belgian Embassy in Baku in 2007 as a way to streamline the intensified cooperation and developing political and economic ties. The opening of the embassy in itself has had a profound impact on the development of cooperation between the two countries and has led to the development of relations in all fields. Azerbaijan and Belgium also enjoy cooperation between parliaments and have established an inter-parliamentary working group. The Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Brussels, which opened in 1995, continues to play an important and very dynamic role in the development of the bilateral relations between both countries.

Azerbaijan and Belgium have seen high-level exchanges, including bilateral visits in the political and economic field. With Belgium’s capital Brussels as the headquarters of the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has paid numerous working visits to Belgium, as have many other high level visitors from Azerbaijan. One of the milestones in the relations between the two countries was the official visit of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium Didier Reynders to Azerbaijan in April 2015. This visit took place under the Belgian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, but also had a bilateral aspect with a (strong) wish by both countries to further develop bilateral relations and dialogue in all fields, as expressed during a meeting between Deputy Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders and President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. This was followed in April 2016 by bilateral political consultations in Brussels that confirmed the excellent relations and the mutual commitment to their further development.

As a founding member of the EU, Belgium highly values EU-Azerbaijan cooperation and encourages further steps towards a strategic partnership, including in the field of energy, trade, rule of law, human rights, and democracy. Belgium and Azerbaijan have worked well together in the multilateral field as full members of the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Both countries consecutively held the presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe that was handed over by Azerbaijan to Belgium in November 2014. In the multilateral field, both countries have delivered important contributions to the International Security and Assistance Force in Afghanistan, Belgium as a NATO member and Azerbaijan as a reliable partner. In the United Nations (UN), Azerbaijan fulfilled its responsibilities as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 2012-2013 with success and Belgium will look to exercise these same responsibilities in 2019-2020.

Economic Relations

The trade relations and broader economic relations between both countries are expanding. Several Belgian companies are currently active in Azerbaijan, including those in the construction, healthcare, and solar energy sectors.

Belgium shows continued interest in contributing to the accelerated growth, transformation and modernisation of Azerbaijan, with trade delegations from Belgium regularly visiting Azerbaijan. The last economic mission in April 2015 was a milestone and brought together 3 regions and 40 Belgian companies, headed by Secretary of State for Foreign Trade Pieter De Crem. Opportunities for Belgian companies are being explored in the areas of energy, energy efficiency, renewable energy, water distribution, agriculture, environment, logistics, transport and in the pharmaceutical industry.

Azerbaijan-Belgium cooperation in the energy sector, which is of strategic nature, preserves its special place in bilateral relations. Belgium’s premier gas infrastructure specialist Fluxys has a significant share in the TAP (Transadriatic Pipeline) project which is a part of the strategic project Southern Gas Corridor. This strategic project will bring Azerbaijani gas to European markets and change the energy landscape across the continent. Fluxys is collaborating closely with the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijani Republic (SOCAR) and is keen to expand its cooperation on a wide range of issues and beyond energy.

In the field of energy, Belgium also plays a role in the diversification of Azerbaijan’s energy sector towards a more sustainable future. Belgian solar energy specialist Soltech has built a state of the art solar plant in the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, which was opened in December 2015 by President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. This plant will help to increase the share of alternative energy in the total energy production in Azerbaijan.

Belgium has also contributed to Baku’s impressive skyline with the construction of the headquarters for the State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan (SOFAZ) by the Belgian company BESIX, among other projects. This 24-storey, 126m tall tower was inaugurated by President of the republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev in 2014 and incorporates ancient Azerbaijan culture into modern architecture with state-of-the-art technologies.

Azerbaijan wants to turn into the transport hub of the region and Belgium is interested in sharing its know-how and expertise as a logistics and transport center in Europe. The world-leading port of Antwerp is actively supporting the construction of the new International Baku Sea Port by transfers of knowledge in port-related and logistics matters. This dynamic cooperation will help the port of Baku to develop in an expert, efficient and sustainable way and contribute to a prosperous and sustainable future for the Port and its surroundings. The cooperation also aims to revive the ancient Silk Road and unlock Azerbaijan’s potential as a transport corridor due to its strategically favorable location and its historical role as a bridge along the major commercial routes between Europe and Asia. Trade turnover between Belgium and Azerbaijan has increased over the last years with import from Belgium mainly consisting of machinery & equipment, base metals, and chemicals.

Cultural Relations

Relations in the field of culture have followed the same positive pattern. Belgium wants to promote cultural interaction and each year, the Embassy of Belgium in Baku organizes public events in order to promote cultural exchange. In 2015, a Belgian movie was the headliner of the European Film Festival in Baku - jointly organized with the EU and other EU member states – and was received with great praise by the public. That same year, famous Belgian contemporary artist Wim Delvoye opened his solo exhibition at the prestigious Heydar Aliyev Center. During a span of 6 months and with the support of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, some 50 works were showcased to the Azerbaijani public. The exhibition and the Heydar Aliyev Center were also visited by Deputy Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders during his visit to Azerbaijan. Belgium participates in the annual Eurovillage in Baku together with the other European member states. Being a French speaking country, Belgium also participates in the annual Week of the Francophonie. Belgium was also one of the participating countries during the first European Games in Baku in 2015. The Belgian team proved to be very successful with 4 golden, 4 silver and 3 bronze medals, thanks to a strong 120-member delegation, as many Belgian athletes as during the Olympic Games in London.

In recent years, a growing number of Azerbaijanis have found their way to Belgium. For young Azerbaijanis, Belgium and its capital Brussels often serve as the first acquaintance with Europe, be it during a study or work trip or on holiday. And as Azerbaijan continues to facilitate tourism and expand its tourism sector, more and more Belgians are bound to find their way to Azerbaijan. These interactions will no doubt further strengthen the relations between both countries.

The ties between Azerbaijan and Belgium have clearly become stronger and the solid foundations that have been laid during the last 25 years and these very last years pave the way to the further development of mutually beneficial relations between Azerbaijan and Belgium in the future.

Related articles

Azərbaycanın xarici ölkələrdəki diplomatik nümayəndəlikləri twitterdə

↳Yeni layihə

Foreign press

Trade war set to be the United States' next foreign policy quagmire
24 September 2018 The Hill

Trade war set to be the United States' next foreign policy quagmire

History is littered with real wars, like those in Afghanistan, Iraq and Vietnam, that were supposed to be won quickly and cheaply but turned out to be the most expensive and inconclusive of quagmires.

More...
Russian military 'drills' point to imminent final clash in Syria
30 August 2018 The Washington Times

Russian military 'drills' point to imminent final clash in Syria

Russia's navy announced it will open ''large-scale drills'' in the Mediterranean on...

More...

World Cities