Reporter: In 2022, Vietnam and Azerbaijan celebrate the 30th anniversary of official diplomatic relations. However, the two countries have had strong ties since the time Azerbaijan was under the former Soviet Union, through the foundation set up by leader Heydar Aliyev and President Ho Chi Minh. As the new Ambassador of Azerbaijan to Vietnam, can you give an overview of the cooperative relationship between the two countries in recent years?
Mr. Shovgi Kamal Oglu Mehdizade: As you correctly mentioned last year we marked the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Azerbaijan and Vietnam. At the same time, the history of traditionally friendly relations between our countries and nations is longer, and was founded by the national leaders of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev, and Vietnam - Ho Chi Minh. In July 1959, the great son of Vietnam, President Ho Chi Minh, in the framework of his visit to the Soviet Union, paid a historical visit to Azerbaijan as well. This visit is rightfully considered historic because it was the first direct contact between the governments of Vietnam and Azerbaijan and gave an impetus to the development of cooperation in many areas. Yet another important stage started with the visit of Heydar Aliyev to Vietnam as a First Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR in 1983. In the capacity of head of highest ever delegation of Soviet Union he participated in inauguration of infrastructure projects, visited regions of Vietnam, met with the local governments, experts and workers, as well as with compatriots working in oil-gas and constructions fields.
Azerbaijan was one of those Soviet Republics where we had the leading number of the Vietnamese students who graduated and became specialists not only in the oil and gas, engineering, construction, but also military, legislation, math, geology and other spheres. Graduates of Azerbaijani universities after returning to their homeland contributed to the restoration and development of Vietnam. All those young Vietnamese with their behaviors, culture, attitude to studies and, especially, to elderly people left very warm memories in Azerbaijan about Vietnam and its people. Embassy will initiate publishing books and films about role of our national leaders, as well as Vietnamese who studied in Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis’ worked in Vietnam in the establishment and development of friendship relations between our two nations.
The visit of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev to Vietnam in 2014 and the visit of the President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to Azerbaijan in 2015 gave strong impetus for further strengthening and raising to new higher level of political relations between our countries. By the initiative of our President, Azerbaijan in 2013 opened Embassy in Hanoi, thus demonstrating its adherence to historical friendship between our nations. Nowadays, relations with Vietnam are one, of important areas of foreign policy agenda of Azerbaijan in Asia, given rich historical heritage.
These relations will be cemented through realization of cooperation agenda between New Azerbaijan Party and Communist Party of Vietnam. Special attention will be paid to the establishment and strengthening of people -to-people contacts in all spheres, including science, education, music, sport as well. We have a lot of potential for cooperation in tourism. Although many events were held last year to mark the anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries, noteworthy to touch upon one related to young participants. The Embassy organized an online chess friendship tournament between young chess players of two countries.
Reporter: The year 2023 will mark important milestones in the diplomatic relations between Azerbaijan and Vietnam. Azerbaijan will celebrate the 100th birthday of the late President Aliyev and the 40th anniversary of his official visit to Vietnam. In your opinion, how do these important milestones play a role in strengthening Vietnam-Azerbaijan relations?
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the birthday of our national leader Heydar Aliyev, and the 40th anniversary of his historical visit to Vietnam. Heydar Aliyev was one of the prominent and strongest leaders and members of the Political Buro in the Soviet Union. Whenever he worked - in Azerbaijan or in Moscow, he deserved sincere and strong respect for his responsibility to achieve highest results while paying special attention to communication with ordinary people. Its known, that Heydar Aliyev personally was very dedicated to the relations with Vietnam and his further activities contributed to the strengthening of Soviet aid to Vietnam. Along with official meetings with the leadership of Vietnam, the opening of the construction of the Friendship Bridge in Hanoi and other important infrastructure objects took place with the participation of Heydar Aliyev. In the framework of his visit, he met with compatriot engineers and oil experts and appealed to them to work tirelessly and do their best in supporting the friend country. At those periods up to 5 thousand young Vietnamese students have studied in universities of Azerbaijan, for some of them diplomas were awarded by Heydar Aliyev himself. This is a vivid example of his personal support for Vietnamese students in Azerbaijan. Also, after his visit to Vietnam many of new Azerbaijani specialists were sent to Vietnam to help rebuild the war-torn country’s infrastructure and oil industry.
|President of Azerbaijan visited to Vietnam in 1983. (Photo: The Embassy of Azerbaijan to Vietnam)
Reporter: How do you assess the prospect of expanding cooperation between the two countries in the coming time, especially in fields where the two sides have advantages, such as trade, oil and gas, defense, education and training?
Mr. Shovgi Kamal Oglu Mehdizade: Economic relations have also been developing dynamically in recent years. Nevertheless, the trade turnover between our countries does not meet the economic potential of our countries. Therefore, it is important to jointly begin the search for new promising areas of cooperation in the economic sphere. This will be facilitated by the next meeting of Azerbaijan- Vietnam Intergovernmental Commission on economic, trade scientific and technical cooperation. Taking into consideration that today, Azerbaijan has the fastest growing economy in the wider region and the Vietnamese economy is one of the fastest growing among Asian countries. The two countries have great potential for the development of mutually beneficial cooperation in various sectors of the economy and trade, transport and logistics. At the same time, it is important to develop and strengthen cooperation in the field of tourism, culture, education, science and sports. Mentioned directions will remain in the focus of the Embassy's activities.
Reporter: Over the past time, Vietnam and Azerbaijan have together maintained close consultation and coordination on international and regional issues, especially within the framework of the United Nations and the Non-Aligned Movement, of which Azerbaijan excellently received the position of President from 2019-2022. How do you assess the prospect of strengthening cooperation between Vietnam and Azerbaijan at forums that the two countries participate in, thereby contributing to affirming the two countries' positions and voices in regional and international issues?
Mr. Shovgi Kamal Oglu Mehdizade: Azerbaijan and Vietnam have built their foreign policy on the norms and principles of international law, including respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states and non-interference in internal affairs. Both countries are members of a number of international organizations and traditionally support each other’s position and each other’s candidates within international organizations. Today, the Republic of Azerbaijan is recognized as an active actor and regional power that contributes to the establishment of cooperation in the modern system of international relations as the implementer of transnational projects, global security issues, and energy security in Europe. As it is known, in 2019, Azerbaijan was elected as a chair of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Last year, Azerbaijan’s chairmanship was extended to the end of 2023 with unanimous support of all states. NAM is one of the major platforms where Azerbaijan and Vietnam fruitfully cooperate. Vietnam participated in NAM summit in 2019, in Baku.
It should be noted that during Azerbaijan's chairmanship in the organization, we always count on support of Vietnam in matters of common interest of all participants of NAM. In this regard, I have the honor to note, that in March 2023, Azerbaijan is organizing a Summit-level Meeting of the NAM contact Group in response to COVID-19 on post- pandemic global recovery in Baku. This Summit will offer a great opportunity to discuss and produce valuable ideas for better life in the post-COVID era. It will be a great pleasure for us to welcome the Vietnamese delegation in Azerbaijan again and exchange experience of the activity and achievement of our countries in the field of the post-covid recovering economy.
|Mr. Shovgi Kamal Oglu Mehdizade, Ambassador of Azerbaijan to Vietnam. (Photo: The Embassy of Azerbaijan to Vietnam)
Reporter: As a diplomatic "bridge" in Vietnam-Azerbaijan relations, in 2023, what contributions and recommendations will you make for the historic cooperative relationship between the two countries to continue to be effectively promoted?
Mr. Shovgi Kamal Oglu Mehdizade: In my opinion, the most important areas for developing and strengthening relations are the economy, trade, agriculture, energy, including renewable energy and the environment, as well as IT fields. But in order to foster cooperation in the mentioned field, first it is necessary to develop and diversify transport communications between our countries.
With the aim to benefit from its location at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, East and West Azerbaijan are heavily invested in developing its transport infrastructure. Our country has the most modern Baku International Sea Port on the Caspian Sea. The construction of a free economic zone near this port is on the way. We had the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars road -the railway system which can connect Europe with Asia. Also, Azerbaijan is developing a number of transport projects, such as West- North and South-East International transport corridors. Here we can see the huge potential of cargo transportation from Vietnam via the territory of Azerbaijan to Europe and vice-versa.
Cooperation in humanitarian area is yet another important task of our agenda. Heydar Aliyev Foundation several years ago supported the project of repairement of primary school in remoted mountainous village of Vietnam.
Reporter: As the new Ambassador of Azerbaijan to Vietnam, how do you evaluate the achievements in the development of the country and people of Vietnam over the years? On the occasion of the Lunar New Year, what message would you like to send to readers of the Communist Party of Vietnam Online Newspaper?
Mr. Shovgi Kamal Oglu Mehdizade: Thank you for these important and very interesting questions. First of all, I would like to emphasize that it is a great honor for me to be the Ambassador of Azerbaijan to Vietnam- the country with which we have a very long history of friendship. For Azerbaijanis Vietnam is a country of close friends - brave, patriotic, peaceful and hard-working people. After some challenging times for Azerbaijan and Vietnam, when we had to tackle internal problems, like economic reforms and the transition period, we are ready to start strengthening our bilateral relations in all areas of mutual interests. These times were also hardest for Azerbaijan – we liberated our territories from occupation and restored our territorial integrity. In this process we always felt the support of friends from all over the world.
When I arrived here I was impressed by the latest achievements of Vietnam. Vietnam today is a dynamically developing country with the highest rate of GDP, increasing year by year amount of foreign trade and attracting more and more investments from abroad. Although most of its population consists of a young, actively growing population, the traditions of respecting elders and parents, patriotism, hard-work and learning remain strong. These values are also very important in Azerbaijan.
And it is my honor to implement activities dedicated to developing bilateral relations between our two countries. This year I will celebrate my first Tet holiday in Vietnam and I am looking forward to learning more about it. At the same time, I have already recorded many similar traditions to Novruz Holiday, which is celebrated in Azerbaijan in March, marking awakening of nature, a new season of spring and the starting of agricultural works.
With great pleasure, I would like to wish our dear Vietnamese friends strong health, prosperity and peace. We people in Azerbaijan and Vietnam know the price of peace well from our history.
Special wishes I would like to extend to the younger generation and hope that they will protect and develop friendship relations between our nations – the great heritage left to us by our leaders and previous generations for the benefit of our countries.
Azerbaijan will further continue to extend its support and cooperation to Vietnam.
Reporter: Thank you so much!