Baku: French Ambassador To Azerbaijan: "Today For Solution Of Nagorn


Azeri Press Agency
13 Oct 2008 13:10

Baku. Arzu Yagubova-APA. French Ambassador Extraordinary and
Plenipotentiary to Azerbaijan Gabriel Keller gave an interview to APA

-What can you say about priorities of France, which chairs European
Union at present?

French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced that main priority
was to continue the ratification of Lisbon Agreement. 22 of EU 27
member countries have ratified the agreement. The Lisbon Agreement
will be efficient for EU to function with stable organizations
more effectively. France’s EU presidency has developed its own
programme. The programme covers four big fields. One of them is energy
and France is carrying out Energy-Climate Package at present. The
essence of the package is to reduce its emissions of greenhouse
gases, increase the share of renewable energy in its total energy
consumption, and improve its energy efficiency. Other three spheres
cover reestablishing agricultural policy till 2013, taking necessity
of European food security into account, strengthening European
defense system and realizing the European Pact on Immigration and
Asylum. French diplomacy realized several initiatives before. I cannot
talk about these initiatives separately.

I can only enumerate achieving the Millennium Development Goals in
Africa, Darfur Peace Agreement, negotiations conducted on crisis
of Iran’s nuclear program, discussions on anti-piracy around cape
of Africa. But the main priority within six months is, certainly,
the situation after war in Georgia. The role of French diplomacy
was decisive in stopping military operations and implementation of
commitments. EU has established 30-member Observation Mission in
Georgia and 50 of them are French. International debates on situation
in Georgia should be held in Geneva on October 15, according to one of
the initiatives of EU. Existence of stability and security is important
in South Caucasus and therefore we have mobilized all our diplomatic
energies for restoration of peace. We are active in restoration of
Georgia and we conduct negotiations on the issues related to Russia
and Europe, as well as in the field of bilateral relations.

-How can France’s EU Presidency influence on relations with Azerbaijan?

– Bilateral relations between France and Azerbaijan are not depending
on our current presidency in the European Union. These relations are
developing normally and will also develop after the EU presidency
of France, because France was among the first countries recognizing
the independence of Azerbaijan. Regarding the simplification of visa
regime in its early presidency France submitted the European Treaty on
Immigration and Asylum and it was accepted by 27 member countries. The
Treaty aims to determine a balance between the openness for the human
exchange (equal development, legal migration and asylum policy suitable
to every country) and control over the migration flow. The document
is likely to be accepted officially on October 15 in the Council of
Europe. Current visa regime for Azerbaijani citizens is liberal: French
Embassy rejects approximately 10 per cent of visa applications. We are
based on the Schengen Convention in this issue. Liberalization of the
visa process is based on the read-mission deals between the sides and
cooperation on the border control. France is involved in the process of
settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict not as the EU president,
but as a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group. Of course, many EU member
countries are represented in the Minsk Group and the European Union
plays decisive role in the settlement of the conflict from this
perspective and will increase its role as the negotiations move on.

-How do you value opportunities for the peaceful solution to the
Nagorno Karabakh conflict after the last developments in the region?

-Paradoxically, today, chances for solution of Nagorno Karabakh
conflict are more than before the Georgian conflict. So the South
Caucasian countries understood their weakness and their dependence on
the regional context, as well as unfeasibility of the military way of
solution. The Minsk Group initiatives – New York meeting of foreign
ministers and planning the meeting of the presidents after October
15 – have more chances to give a result. Every success achieved in
the negotiations will be developed with the positive measures for
the regional security and welfare.

-Can Turkey’s meditative role in the region be beneficial for the
settlement of Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict?

-Every initiative directed to the improvement of regional cooperation
and security should be welcomed, particularly when these initiatives
are supporting the efforts of Minsk Group, which member is Turkey. I
would like to remind about the statement France issued within its EU
presidency on September 4, 2008. It was noted in this statement that
"Turkey’s initiative of the Caucasian Stability and Security Platform
causes great interest. This is contribution of Turkey to the stability,
security and development in the region and has a new scale in the
context of Georgian conflict".

-Mr. Ambassador, does the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict prevent
economic cooperation between France and South Caucasian countries,
particularly Azerbaijan and Armenia?

-France has good economic relations with both conflict parties. But
undoubtedly these relations can be better if the conflict is
solved. Due to the solution of the conflict economic cooperation
would be much simplified both inside the South Caucasus and between
the region and the world. One day there will be a need to invest
in the affected regions, rebuild destroyed buildings, restore roads,
reestablish economic activity and establish new regional solidarity. No
doubt this new dynamics will be favorable both for the whole South
Caucasus and the others.

-Do you have plans for extending economic cooperation between France
and Azerbaijan?

-Economic partnership between France and Azerbaijan is satisfactory and
these relations have large development prospects. France exported goods
worth â~B¬100 million to Azerbaijan and this figure is increasing. At
the same time we import great deal of oil products from Azerbaijan
every year. French companies participate in Azerbaijan’s economic
growth. Total is a partner in the Shah Deniz gas development and
wants to strengthen its participation. Total has signed a heads of
agreement with SOCAR, setting out the main terms of a production
sharing agreement (PSA) for a license in the Absheron area. Besides
SAIPEM, TECHNIP also works in oil sector and this company implements
important programs in establishing oil platforms in Azerbaijan for
the development of oilfields in the Caspian Sea. We have sold Airbus
and ATR aircrafts and helicopters to Azerbaijan recently. Thales
Company supplied Baku airport with surveillance radar in July, 2007,
agreements were signed to supply Gandja and Nakhchivan airports with
surveillance radars. Our companies are also active in the sphere
of environment. The negotiations are on the last level between CNIM
Company and the Ministry of Economic Development on the construction
of recycling plant in Baku. OTV Company is building water treatment
plant in Baku. Moreover, we have a number of economic relations in the
field of consumption goods. As regards the Nagorno Karabakh conflict,
no French company has invested in this region. As far as I know,
no French company is engaged in commercial activity in this region.

-How do you assess the state of human rights in Azerbaijan?

-The reports of the European Union, Council of Europe and particularly
of OSCE cover the state of human rights in Azerbaijan. Of course,
France being a member of these organizations shares the views in these
reports. I would like to mention the recent report on the pre-election
situation in the country. The report objectively describes both the
government’s efforts to improve the situation and the progress needed
to comply with the international norms of democratic countries. France
supports regular dialogue between the European Union and Azerbaijani
Government agencies in the field of human rights and approaches it
with responsibility.

–Boundary_(ID_M9U/N7mxk69VFul1Kv 3CHw)–

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