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18 May 2024, 09:53

Aleinik takes stock of Belarus president’s visit to Azerbaijan

BAKU, 17 May (BelTA) – Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Aleinik told BelTA about the main results of Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko's state visit to Azerbaijan.

Economy and manufacturing cooperation

The main emphasis, according to the minister, was placed on the development of trade and economic relations. “Our mutual trade is on the rise. Last year’s figures testify to the fact, with the trade going up 18%. Today, this figure is over $450 million in the trade in goods and services. The potential of our countries, however, is still hugely untapped. We have reached specific agreements in trade relations, in the expansion of manufacturing cooperation,” he said.

In particular, an agreement was reached to expand the production line at the Ganja Automobile Plant, where Belarusian vehicles have been assembled for a long time. The plant has already made about 14,000 tractors and almost 4,000 cars. “We agreed to expand the line on the basis of MAZ chassis,” the minister said.

According to him, the parties are mulling over the possibility of launching a joint elevator production and opening of a service center for Belarusian equipment. The parties are also discussing possible supplies of Belarusian electric buses to Azerbaijan.

As part of the next effort to take trade and economic cooperation to a new level, the two countries will be making their best to stop importing from unfriendly countries the products they can buy from each other. “Our economies are complementary. All agreements are aimed at aligning our economic potentials in areas where we have relevant competencies, where we can strengthen each other's economic development,” Sergei Aleinik emphasized.

Post-conflict development

Special attention during the visit was paid to the development of the conflict-affected territories and possible participation of Belarus in this work. A proposal was made to increase supplies of Belarusian construction materials, including woodworking products, which, at present, account for about half of Belarusian exports to Azerbaijan. “We are ready to supply our machinery there - passenger, municipal, tractor, agricultural, and automotive vehicles,” Sergei Aleinik said. “We are ready to take part in the reconstruction process. These issues have been discussed in detail. I think that in the near future we will agree on specific cooperation projects.” According to him, priority attention will be given to the development of agricultural production in these territories. “Perhaps it will be done by developing agro-towns, which are many in our country and well known to our Azerbaijani friends and partners. We will work in this direction,” the minister stressed.

Healthcare and education

As for humanitarian interaction, Belarus and Azerbaijan agreed to develop cooperation in healthcare and education.

“A project to launch a joint production of pharmaceutical drugs in Azerbaijan is under consideration. We plan to launch it in the near future,” the minister said.

There are 87 inter-university agreements between the two countries in education. Two centers of Azerbaijani culture and language operate in Belarus – they are based at Belarusian State Pedagogical University named after Maxim Tank and Minsk State Linguistic University. The second center of the Belarusian language and culture has recently opened at Azerbaijan University of Languages.

Azerbaijan is particularly interested in Belarus' best practices in vocational education, the minister said. “We have agreed to define a list of specialties to ensure necessary training on the basis of our vocational education institutions in the near future,” he added.

Legal framework

“We have significantly expanded the legal framework of bilateral relations. Earlier, it had more than 100 agreements. Nine more have been signed as part of the recent visit. The new agreements cover various sectors, starting from creating more favorable conditions for trade, investment activities and ending with tourism. This is an additional large package, which will let us intensify cooperation in all these areas,” Sergei Aleinik said. “We have agreed to revise the legal framework to see which documents need to be updated and improved.”

Summing up, the minister of foreign affairs pointed out that important bilateral events aimed at implementing the agreements reached by the leaders of Belarus and Azerbaijan would take place in the near future. A regular meeting of the intergovernmental commission is scheduled for early June in Minsk to discuss all the projects considered during the visit. “The task is to clarify the roadmap of our bilateral cooperation signed for 2024-2025 and enrich it with additional specific projects that were discussed at the level of heads of state. This work will be performed in the nearest future,” Sergei Aleinik said. The speaker of the Azerbaijani parliament is expected to visit Minsk in June. The visit of the prime minister of Azerbaijan to Belarus is on the agenda.”

“We are aiming at serious joint work,” the minister stressed. 
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