Czech deputy FM: Nagorno-Karabakh conflict can only be resolved by Azerbaijan and Armenia – INTERVIEW – Petr Drulák: Azerbaijan is one of the key energy suppliers and will play an important role in energy diversification in future

Baku: Deputy Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic Petr Drulák’s interview with APA

– What is your opinion of the current relations between the Czech Republic and Azerbaijan?

– I think the relations are actually very intensive. We do not have such intensive relations with any other country in the region. When we talk about the intensity, I mean we have very intensive economic relations. Azerbaijan is a reliable supplier of oil for the Czech Republic. We also have many companies which make investment in Azerbaijan and helps the modernization of the country’s infrastructure. We also have political relations at high level. High level visits are made from the Czech Republic to Azerbaijan. Czech President Miloš Zeman will pay a visit to Azerbaijan in September 2015. Next year we hope to have more visits from Azerbaijan to the Czech Republic.

– Both sides have expressed their willingness to bring their bilateral relations up to strategic level. What is needed to achieve it?

– When we talk about the intensity, we are already in the strategic framework. When we talk about the strategic relationship, we would probably somehow give it a clear point of political framework. For example, we would make our visits more regular. But there are still acts depending on the initiative of particular ministers, members of the government and MPs. Strategic dialogue will make these initiatives more coordinated and regular. The Azerbaijani side is working on its proposals and we are very much interested in studying these proposals. It also includes economic exchange and cooperation in the cultural area, including in education and all possible fields. They are already at high level, just we should make it more regular and more intense. The Azerbaijani side is preparing proposals how do it, and we are very keen on them.

– The Czech Republic made it clear that it doesn’t recognize so-called “elections” held in Nagorno-Karabakh. What is the opinion and position of the Czech Republic on this conflict and tackling of this conflict?

– We think that it is very unfortunate situation which makes Azerbaijan, Armenia and the whole region weaker. It is the fact that we have had this conflict for so many years. We believe that the resolution of the conflict is the responsibility of Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders. The third parties can play positive role, but they can also play negative role. In this respect, we hope that the both parties will be able to show statesmanship and wisdom. The resolution of this conflict will make the region stronger. OSCE is the organization which plays an important in stabilizing the efforts. Of course, the talks have been taking very long time. We don’t see any clear results, but on the other hand we do not have many other options. Unless we have clear bilateral initiatives, the OSCE is the available option. It is much better if the countries do not need any country mediator. The best way will be if the Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders can do it themselves. The solution can’t be provided by the OSCE, Russia, America, EU, it can be provided only by the people in Baku and Yerevan.

There are some Czech citizens among those who have made an illegal visit to Nagorno-Karabakh. Has the Czech Foreign Ministry warned its citizens against visiting Nagorno-Karabakh?

– We don’t actually follow where Czech citizens travel. All Czech citizens are informed about the fact that we don’t recognize this territory. There is no such kind of consulate system in the country. If they travel with their own choice, there’s no possibility we can prevent it. They know that this territory is not recognized and they are aware of that the fact that they will have problems when they want to travel to Azerbaijan.

– What is your view of economic relations between the two countries, especially cooperation in the transport area?

– Azerbaijan is implementing programs to modernize transportation. The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway line project is about to finish. A Czech company also is participating in a consortium on its realization. We have companies likely to contribute to the modernization of the subway system. Azerbaijan is interested in expanding its subway network. This cooperation is also meant to buy trains and buses. These are areas Czech companies are well familiar with.

The Czech Republic’s has formed 30 percent of its energy potential on account of Azerbaijani oil. What are future prospects of cooperation in the oil and gas sector? To what extent does the Czech Republic intend to participate in major projects?

– Azerbaijan is one of the key energy suppliers and will play an important role in energy diversification in future. There are some Czech companies with significant expertise in both the traditional oil and gas sector and renewable energy sectors such as the solar and wind energies. They are ready to join the ongoing energy projects in Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan will host the 1st European Games in June. What is the Czech Republic’s view of it? And to what extent does the country plan to join the Games?

– This is a new initiative. We have not organized this kind of sports event in Europe before. Azerbaijan is the first host country of the Games. I know that there will be quite a strong delegation of Czech athletes. Parliamentarians also intend to come and attend the opening of the Games. We will see how it develops.

SOURCE: Azeri Press News Agency