Mehrali Gasimov, Honorary Consul of Ukraine in Azerbaijan, spoke about the relations between two countries and what support Azerbaijan provides to Ukraine at the state and business level.
Mehrali Gasimov was born in Baku, but the last 10 years of his life are closely connected with Ukraine. In 2013, he graduated from Institute of International Relations Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. Since 2015, he has implemented a number of international and bilateral Ukrainian-Azerbaijani business projects in the field of energy, transport and infrastructure.
By decree of the President of Ukraine, he was awarded with the Order of Merit, Third class, for his great personal contribution to the development of Ukrainian-Azerbaijani relations. And also, he got the acknowledgement from the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine for a significant personal contribution to strengthening the international authority of Ukraine and active participation in ensuring the provision of effective assistance to Ukraine in terms of Russian aggression.
Ukraine opened the first Honorary Consulate in Azerbaijan in 2020. What were the main areas of its work before a full-scale war broke and what are the priority tasks today?
Before the full-scale invasion, the Honorary Consulate mainly promoted the development of science, trade and economic relations as well as cultural and humanitarian ties. Two years ago, Baku hosted the Ukrainian Center where we develop cooperation between two countries in the cultural, educational and tourist spheres. Since the first days of the invasion, the center has been used as the coordination headquarters of the Ukrainian community for the collection of humanitarian aid.
During the first days of the full-scale invasion, we tried to provide all possible support to the citizens of Ukraine and Azerbaijan. We assisted in the evacuation of residents from Odesa, Kharkiv, Dnipro, Kyiv, Lviv and other regions of Ukraine.
Two days after Russian invasion of Ukraine, the first plane carrying humanitarian aid from the government of Azerbaijan landed in Rzeszów, Poland. Since then, without delay, Azerbaijan has been systematically supporting Ukraine with everything it needs, including medicines, medical equipment and food. A batch of Turkish-made body armour with B4 protection level, DJI drones and special Samsung Tablets were also purchased and delivered to Ukraine.
Today, the total weight of humanitarian aid provided by Azerbaijan is more than 2,050 tons
We also joined the energy aid projects, and the government of Azerbaijan sent high-power generators and transformers to Ukraine in the shortest possible time. Azerbaijan also actively participates in the implementation of UNITED 24, Volodymyr Zelenskyʼs initiative, in particular, in the restoration of civil infrastructure.
Besides, we take an active part in protecting the rights and interests of Ukrainian citizens on the territory of Azerbaijan. We provided accommodation, food and medical assistance to more than 200 temporarily displaced persons, held a number of regular consultations on legal, migration, educational and social issues.
How can Azerbaijani business help Ukraine to restore its economy?
A comprehensive program of economic recovery and renewal awaits Ukraine, and the Azerbaijani companies can join its implementation. The Azerbaijani business is interested in the development of cooperation with the Ukrainian companies. Before the full-scale war, the number of joint enterprises implementing the projects in various fields — from agriculture to IT — has been increasing. Today, business is also interested in investing in the post-war reconstruction of the country.
The countries have a great potential for increasing cooperation in the field of agriculture, which will contribute to even greater strengthening of Azerbaijanʼs food security.
Azerbaijan has also traditionally been a strategic partner of Ukraine in the energy sector, and cooperation on the development of oil and gas sector is important. The participation of Azerbaijani companies in the development of oil and gas fields in Ukraine, privatization of energy facilities, and joint implementation of infrastructure projects may also be a promising area.
Today, the business community of Azerbaijan supports Ukraine
Today, the Azerbaijani business community supports Ukraine by importing the highest quality M1 glass made in Azerbaijan, and negotiating with Ukrainian companies interested in such products as urea, polymer, primary polypropylene, fuel, and bitumen. When the problem of fuel shortages in Ukraine arose, the Azerbaijani company SOCAR immediately decided to provide its fuel for emergency vehicles, ambulances and fire services. Today, SOCAR supplies a large volume of fuel to Ukraine.
The business community of Azerbaijan sincerely believes in the bright future of an independent Ukraine and uses all its international experience to bring it closer. We are ready to be actively engaged in the post-war reconstruction of the country by attracting direct investments as well as foreign investors as business partners.
How will relations between two countries develop after the war?
Returning to peaceful life in Ukraine will be the basis for increasing mutually beneficial trade. Ukraine is interested in strengthening the energy security and expanding the transportation routes. These are the same areas of interest to Azerbaijan, which, in its turn, is interested in strengthening its food security. Both countries can benefit from exploiting the potential of Ukrainian agricultural sector and its traditional experience in land amelioration and livestock farming.
The countries can and should expand their cooperation in education, science and technology, without which the development of modern society and economy is impossible.
Given the rich military experience of Ukraine and Azerbaijan, we have every reason to develop cooperation in the military and technical sphere. We have something to complement each other in this sensitive area.
We are not going to stop, we are setting new ambitious goals. We plan to implement new projects and, undoubtedly, to work for our common victory. As Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the President of Ukraine, said, 2023 should be the year of victory. And we must unite and put all our efforts for it to be realized. Glory to Ukraine! Glory to Azerbaijan!
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