BAKU: Romania – key partner in Eastern Europe

AzerNews, Azerbaijan
Oct 14 2004

Romania – key partner in Eastern Europe

President Ilham Aliyev’s two-day official visit to Romania completed
on Tuesday.

The two countries signed 11 documents covering political, economic,
education and other fields upon conclusion of the talks. Romania
represents a priority in Azerbaijan’s foreign policy among the Eastern
European countries. After Azerbaijan gained independence, Romania
was one of the first countries, along with Turkey and Pakistan,
to recognize its sovereignty.

Since Azerbaijan and Romania established diplomatic relations in
1992, the two countries have successfully developed cooperation,
in particular, political ties.

During President Aliyev’s meeting with his Romanian counterpart
Ion Iliyesku, bilateral relations, economic projects implemented in
Azerbaijan, combat against terrorism and cooperation between the two
countries were discussed.

Romanian President Iliyesku said that the two countries are closely
cooperating within TRACECA transport corridor and that his country has
invested $6 million in the project. He added that European countries
are interested in participating in projects realized in the South
Caucasus region.

After the negotiations, the two countries signed documents in
the area of customs, justice, national security, labor and social
security, education, television and radio, and a joint declaration.
Aliyev was awarded the “Romania’s Star” order. The Azeri President, in
turn, awarded Iliyesku the “Istiglal” (“Independence”) order for his
contribution to political relations between Azerbaijan and Romania,
multi-faceted cooperation and strengthening of friendly ties between
the two peoples.

Aliyev also unveiled a bronze monument to the late Azerbaijani
President Heydar Aliyev in the “8 May” park in Bucharest and
inaugurated a new building of the Azerbaijani embassy.

Azerbaijan established diplomatic relations with Romania in June
1992. Romania recognized Azerbaijan’s independence on December 11,
1991 and opened its embassy in the country in November 1998. The
Azeri embassy opened in Bucharest in May 2000.

The two countries have signed over 30 inter-governmental agreements
in the political, economic, cultural and technical fields so far.
Romania and Azerbaijan are also actively cooperating within
international and regional organizations and programs.

The late Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev paid an official visit
to Romania in June 30, 1995, while Romanian President Iliyeski first
visited Azerbaijan on July 27-28, 1996. The two countries signed a
package of documents in various fields and expressed mutual interest
for collaboration in the oil, trade and other sectors.

In 1997, Chairman of the Romanian Senate Petre Roman paid an official
visit to Baku. He discussed with the Azeri side the issue of using the
Romanian port of Constanza for transportation of goods from Azerbaijan
and Georgia.

In December 1997, the Romanian President’s special envoy Dana Kepetsine
visited Azerbaijan. He presented to the Azeri party a project on
transporting Caspian oil to Europe through Romania. Under the project,
oil is delivered from the port of Supsa to the Constanta port by
tankers, and then to Western Europe through the existing pipeline.

In June 1998 Romanian President Emil Constantinescu paid a three-day
official visit to Azerbaijan. A declaration on cooperation, an
inter-governmental agreement on cargo transportation, and one on
collaboration between state news agencies were signed. During the
talks the parties focused on the oil transportation issue.

President Aliyev voiced his support for the project on transporting
oil through the Baku-Constanta route. A few months later, President
Constantinescu visited Baku again and participated in the “Restoration
of the Great Silk Road” conference. The Romanian party expressed
interest in its active involvement in the TRACECA project and the
GUUAM bloc.

In October 2002, Iliyesku paid his second visit to Azerbaijan. The
parties once again focused on transportation of Caspian oil through
Romania and its refining at the Constanta port. The two countries
signed an agreement on promotion and mutual protection of investments,
a convention on eliminating double taxation, a declaration on
partnership and a memorandum of understanding between air space

President Iliyesku stated that considering the two countries’
advantageous geographic location, Azerbaijan and Romania can become
important elements of the “great oil route”.

However, the trade and economic relations between the two countries
leave a lot to be desired. In 2000, Romanian state oil company
Petrom left Azerbaijan to move to Kazakhstan, where it successfully
participates in two projects.

The Azeri side has not been active on the proposals of Bucharest on
economic cooperation. According to the State Statistics Committee,
in 2003 the turnover of goods between Azerbaijan and Romania
constituted $7.8 million, of which $6.2 million was made up by
import from Romania and the rest by export from Azerbaijan. In the
first half of 2004, the turnover of goods between the two countries
increased dramatically to make up $19.9 million on account of crude
oil exports to Romania. In this period, Azerbaijan’s crude exports to
this country made up $16.3 million out of a total of $16.6 million.
Besides oil and oil products, Azerbaijan exported chemical products
and cotton to Romania. Azerbaijan imports furniture and drilling
pipes for the oil and gas sector from Romania.

Romania unequivocally supports the territorial integrity of
Azerbaijan. In August 2002, Bucharest firmly condemned the illegal
‘presidential election’ in Upper Garabagh and separatism.

The two countries closely collaborate in the military field, both
on a bilateral level and within NATO programs. In July 1999, Defense
Minister Safar Abiyev paid a two-day official visit to Bucharest. The
parties signed a protocol on military cooperation.

In February 2000, Romanian Defense Minister Victor Babiuc paid a
reciprocal visit to Baku. During the visit the two countries signed
another military collaboration document.

In April 2003, Abiyev visited this country again on the invitation
of his Romanian counterpart Ioan Mircea Pascu.