Austrian President hails Azerbaijan`s work to diversify economy

Vienna, March 18, AZERTAC

Federal President of Austria Heinz Fischer has hailed what the Azerbaijani government is doing to diversify its economy as he commented on economic cooperation with Azerbaijan in his interview with The Business Year magazine.

Pointing to the fact that Austria will chair OSCE in 2017, Heinz Fischer said: “Austria, in general, attaches great importance to multilateral diplomacy. The Austrian OSCE chairmanship will build on the excellent work of the current German OSCE Chairmanship. We are fully aware of the central and sensitive issue of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The dramatic increase of violence in 2015 along the line of contact is a matter of serious concern. I am aware of the frustration of Azerbaijan with respect to the efforts of the Co-Chairs of the Minsk group in solving the issue. Nevertheless, we are convinced that the Minsk Group is the only practical platform for conflict resolution.”

On economic relations between Austria and Azerbaijan, he said: “Azerbaijan enjoys a significant trade surplus with Austria due to its exports of oil..”

“Austria appreciates that Azerbaijan, under the leadership of President Aliyev, is trying to introduce reforms and diversify its economy. This is a difficult and long-term process, especially as most countries in the region are facing similar problems. I would like to mention that bilateral trade has increased nearly tenfold in the last 10 years. In 2015, Austria was Azerbaijan's fifth most important import partner. In 2010, the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber opened an office in Baku, with the aim of contributing to the development and expansion of bilateral trade relations. Last year, two business missions with more than 30 Austrian companies from various industrial sectors were organized. In addition, the office of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber supported the activities of individual businesses and entrepreneurs.”

"President Aliyev has mentioned his eagerness to improve and diversify the Azerbaijani economy several times. Austria is ready to work together with Azerbaijan in this endeavor. Many Austrian companies are engaged in the planning, architecture, and construction business. As a supplier of high-quality machinery in the field of oil and gas, Austria has contributed to the technological development of Azerbaijan. This is also true for the pharmaceutical sector, which is an important Austrian export to Azerbaijan. Furthermore, there is ongoing cooperation in the field of education. The strengthening of university and academic cooperation in the technological field would therefore be beneficial," the Austrian President said.

"Azerbaijan and Austria in many respects share similar features. Our countries and population are of approximately the same size, we share similar climate zones, especially mountain ranges and forests, and geopolitically, both countries are placed between large and powerful neighbors on essential trade routes. I believe that both countries can profit and learn from each other's experience. As the focus of Azerbaijan is shifting to the diversification of the economy, Austria would like to be a substantial partner. Tourism offers excellent possibilities for an extended partnership," he said.

"Another important field with huge potential for cooperation is the agricultural sector, from production to the promotion of products, taking into account the high sanitary standards products need to enter the European market."

"Another area of cooperation could be an exchange of expertise in the area of mountain farming, as substantial parts of both our territories are covered by mountains. In addition, the areas of machinery and plants (in particular in the oil and gas industry as well as in food processing) and the renewal of the energy infrastructure offer significant opportunities for Austrian companies," Mr. Fischer noted.

"Last but not least, I would like to underline that Azerbaijan, as Austria, is a country on an important international trade link. We are following with great interest Azerbaijan's endeavor to position itself on the cross roads of the silk and spice route. I believe that Austrian know-how in the road and railway sectors could be beneficial for Azerbaijan I believe that the future of Azerbaijan will be in its function as a trade hub, as it is excellently placed for both directions, East-West and North-South. In this respect it is worth mentioning that Austria has great experience in the field of railway construction. Austrian companies are global leaders when it comes to machinery and equipment for the development and maintenance of railway infrastructure," he added.

Elgun Niftaliyev

Special Correspondent

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