Spain ready to strengthen cooperation with Azerbaijan: FM

By: Aynur Jafarova

Spain is ready to strengthen open political dialogue and bilateral cooperation with Azerbaijan in all spheres of mutual interest.

The remarks were made by Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation José García-Margallo y Marfil at a briefing following the talks with his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov.

“Azerbaijan is an important country in the region. Given the interest of our country in cooperating with Azerbaijan, Spain is opening a representative office in Baku. There is also an agreement on the establishment of an intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation,” the minister said.

The current state and priority areas of bilateral cooperation and issues of international problems were discussed with Minister Mammadyarov, the Spanish Minister noted.

Mammadyarov, in turn, said relations between Spain and Azerbaijan are not at the level “that we would want them to be, but there are prospects for their development.”

“Political relations are at a good level and Spain has always supported us on the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh. At the meeting with my colleague, we also discussed regional cooperation and the situation of Ukraine. Azerbaijan also encouraged Spanish companies to cooperate,” the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister said.

He also noted both Azerbaijan and Spain have agreed to jointly provide assistance to African countries. Mammadyarov said Spain has expressed interest in the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) project.

The 826-kilometer long BTK railway is a regional rail link project that connects Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey. Azerbaijan has allocated a $775 million loan for the construction of the Georgian section of the railway. The project is financed by Azerbaijan’s state oil fund SOFAZ.

The foreign ministers of the two countries also signed a Convention for the Elimination of Double Taxation with Respect to Income and Property Tax and Prevention of Tax Avoidance.

This is the first official visit of the Spanish minister to Azerbaijan.

Spain recognized Azerbaijan’s independence in December 1991. Diplomatic relations were established in February 1992.

The trade turnover between the two countries amounted to about $158.4 million in 2012.

Azerbaijan’s embassy in Spain has initiated the establishment of a joint chamber of commerce with aims to increase the trade turnover between the two countries, to attract Spanish companies to Azerbaijan, take Azerbaijani goods to the Spanish market, to organize mutual business forums, trade and investment missions, and to organize other events to promote bilateral cooperation.