INTERVIEW: Baku, Cairo enjoy full understanding of all int’l issues: Azerbaijan ambassador

Amr Yehia , Monday 24 Jun 2024

Ambassador of Azerbaijan to Egypt Elkhan Polukhov said in an interview with Ahram Online that Azerbaijan and Egypt enjoy a full understanding of practically all issues of the international agenda.

Ambassador of Azerbaijan
File Photo: Ambassador of Azerbaijan to Egypt Elkhan Polukhov. Photo courtesy of Azerbaijan State News Agency website.

 

Ambassador Polukhov added that the bilateral high-level presidential visits demonstrate the two countries' interest in enhancing communication and cooperation.

Ahram Online: How do you see the bilateral relations, especially after the latest visit of President Ilham Aliyev to Egypt?

Ambassador Polukhov: In just one and a half years, we had two official high-level visits. In January 2023, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi visited Azerbaijan, and just recently, President Aliyev visited Egypt for the second time. 

This demonstrates that both countries are turning and opening a unique new page in bilateral relations.

Both presidents made very historical statements during this last visit when the president of Azerbaijan openly stated that Azerbaijan and Egypt enjoy full understanding on practically all issues of the international agenda. 

From our perspective, it was not just a visit of President Aliyev to Egypt; it had a regional dimension in the Middle East, South Caucasus, and the wider region. 

AO: How do you see the outcomes of this visit?

Ambassador Polukhov: It was a very productive visit. 

President Aliyev also visited Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, where he had a meeting with the grand imam of Al-Azhar.

We signed seven documents; five of them are trade and business-oriented. This demonstrates that with full comfort of cooperation in the political sphere, now we concentrate more on the economic side. 

We also signed an MoU between the Egyptian Ministry of International Cooperation and the Ministry of Economy of Azerbaijan on exchanging expertise.

Moreover, we made a joint action plan between the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones (GAFI) of Egypt and the Azerbaijan Export and Investment Promotion Foundation (AZPROMO) of Azerbaijan for 2024-2025.

Another MoU was signed between the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology of Egypt and the Ministry of Digital Development and Transport of Azerbaijan on cooperation in information and communication technology. 

We also signed an MoU of friendship and cooperation between the Cairo Governorate and the Executive Power of Baku city of Azerbaijan. 

An MoU was also signed between the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Egypt and the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Azerbaijan in the field of youth and sports. 

AO: Is there a common vision between the two countries regarding issues of common concern at the regional and international levels?

Ambassador Polukhov: Azerbaijan and Egypt are leading countries in the world and their regions. 

Both countries have a similarity in their past. Our cooperation within the framework of the Non-Aligned Movement, Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and other international organizations shows that we have a full understanding of concerns regionally and globally. 

AO: Azerbaijan has a supportive position towards Palestine and de-escalation of the situation in Gaza, can you shed light on your government’s efforts in this regard?

Ambassador Polukhov: President Aliyev underlined the position of our country toward Palestinian-Israeli relations when he openly stated that Azerbaijan fully supports a two-state solution with a capital in East Jerusalem for the Palestinian people.

The Azerbaijani president called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and the need to help it with humanitarian aid. 

President El-Sisi also underlined the importance of building the peace process in the South Caucasus after ending the Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict.

Since the situation in Gaza escalated and even before, Azerbaijan has provided financial support for humanitarian aid via a specialized UN agency. 

AO: Azerbaijan has multilateral progressing relations with the Arab nations and the Arab league, what about the progress in this axis?

Ambassador Polukhov: Since our independence at the beginning of the 90s, Azerbaijan has built a unique relationship with the Arab world.  

The country has always paid great attention to cooperation with the Arab world and the Islamic Ummah.

We always felt support from the majority of Arab countries for the justified position of Azerbaijan in the former Armenian-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

AO: How do you see the economic potential and trade between the two countries?

Ambassador Polukhov: There is a huge economic potential. According to our statistics in 2023, the trade reached a little over 13 million US dollars.

We expect some increase in 2024. Both presidents highlighted that our communications need to be extended and intensified in areas such as pharmaceuticals, logistics, transportation, construction, oil and gas, green energy, and the exchange of expertise, knowledge, and technologies.

President Aliyev highlighted the new opportunities that opened recently for the transportation of goods from Egypt or North Africa to Central Asia and the western part of China through the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway. 

In addition, Egyptian construction companies have potential in Azerbaijani new markets and the pharmaceutical industry. 

Our major task now is to organize the next meeting of the Joint Intergovernmental Commission on promoting trade and investment in Egypt.

AO: Egypt is witnessing progress in urbanization projects, including infrastructure, agriculture, and so on. What are the areas of cooperation with Azerbaijan in this regard?

Ambassador Polukhov: It is interesting to learn from Egypt’s experience in building smart cities and villages. 

Now, in Azerbaijan, after the liberation of our occupied lands, we have started to build smart cities and villages. 

Azerbaijani construction companies also have an interest in investing in this area in Egypt.

We believe that after the latest visit, the intensity of communication between commercial and governmental bodies will give new momentum for cooperation.

AO: Azerbaijan will host the COP29, what about cooperation with Egypt in this aspect?

Ambassador Polukhov: We are very thankful to the Egyptian government for all the expertise, knowledge, and support it provides in this regard.

President El-Sisi has received an invitation from our president to visit Baku this November and participate in COP29. The grand imam of Al-Azhar also confirmed his participation.

It is necessary to mention that we go with clear messages and ideas and demonstrate that we can handle such a big event. 

Furthermore, we are organizing this event from a position that COP29 needs to have real outcomes, with a clear mechanism of implementation for many initiatives that were raised during COP27 and COP28.

AO: How can Al-Azhar Al-Sharif play a role in developing bilateral relations?

Ambassador Polukhov: Definitely, Al-Azhar Al-Sharif is the largest Islamic centre in the world with its knowledge, expertise, and educational impact.

During this visit, the president of Azerbaijan was accompanied by the Grand Sheikh of Azerbaijan Allahshukur Pashazade.

During the meeting, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayyeb highlighted the role of our country and our president in building the peace process. 

He also expressed appreciation to the role of President Aliyev in bringing understanding of tolerance and increasing Islamic solidarity in the world. 

AO: What about the cooperation in the field of culture and arts?

Ambassador Polukhov: Both countries have great history, many common values, and traditions.

Last year, we had a very beautiful concert dedicated to the 100th anniversary of our late president Heydar Aliyev in the Cairo Opera. 

We also organized the first kickboxing tournament between teams from the two countries, dedicated to Heydar Aliyev.

This year, we are planning to have another concert and other cultural activities.

There is cooperation between Alexandria Bibliotheca and the Azerbaijani State Library.

Moreover, cooperation in bilateral museum cooperation is undergoing.  

AO: What about the cooperation in tourism?

Ambassador Polukhov: Unfortunately, according to the latest statistics of 2023, around 17,000 Azerbaijani citizens visited Egypt and around 7,000 Egyptians visited Azerbaijan.

We have a direct flight from Sharm El-Sheikh to our capital city Baku. We believe that having a direct flight from Cairo to Baku will definitely enhance the number of tourists.

Both countries have a deep, rich history and beautiful nature. Azerbaijan with its relatively small territory has nine climatic zones, which make our nature very diverse.

Tourists can also enjoy our unique cuisine.

Egypt and Azerbaijan can consider potentials of hosting many international cultural, musical, and sports events.   ​

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