The French ‘Echanges internationaux’ (International exchanges) magazine devoted its January edition (January 2012, N 93) to Azerbaijan. The edition is entitled ‘Azerbaijan: the economy in rapid evolution’. ‘Echanges internationaux’ is a publication of the French National Committee`s International Chamber of Commerce. The magazine`s January edition features France`s strategies and achievements in Azerbaijan, and highlights the country`s role as Europe`s key energy partner and its transport infrastructure. It also hails Azerbaijan`s importance as an oil and gas producer and the country`s achievements in diversifying its economy. The articles featured in the magazine also highlight the 20th anniversary of Azerbaijan`s restoring its independence, the history of the country`s oil industry and its strategy to develop non-oil sector. The edition also draws attention to the developing Azerbaijan-France economic cooperation and the activity of joint intergovernmental economic commission, and underlines the importance of the founding of the Azerbaijan-France Business Council. The following is a brief highlight of what prominent Azerbaijani and French statesmen and ministers as well as representatives of famous French companies operating in Azerbaijan wrote in their articles featured in the edition: French Ambassador to Azerbaijan Gabriel Keller writes in his article entitled ‘Cultural, historic and economic relations between France and Azerbaijan’: “French companies are making a tremendous contribution to economic development of Azerbaijan. These companies, operating in the fields of oil and gas, environment and transport, participate in diversification of the Azerbaijani economy. They also assist Azerbaijan in improving the city transport, extending and modernizing the Baku metro, purifying water and other spheres. At present about 50 French companies are operating in Azerbaijan.” Keller also touches upon cultural relations, education-related issues, the granting of scholarships to Azerbaijani students in France, and the role of France in settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as an OSCE Minsk Group co-chair. The ambassador says France put forward proposals with respect to the preparation of a peace agreement. “The initiatives put forward by France regarding stability in the region and welfare of the South Caucasus countries are already giving results. France regards Azerbaijan an internationally important country, and has strong and continuous reliance on it,” Keller notes. Azerbaijani ambassador to France Elchin Amirbayov`s article is entitled ‘Azerbaijan has made considerable progress over the past 20 years’. The ambassador highlights the history, geography and culture of Azerbaijan, saying the country “is located at the crossroads of East and West and on the old Silk Road”. Amirbayov touches upon the ongoing democratic reforms and state building processes in Azerbaijan, the country`s cooperation with international organizations, in particular the European Union, and its election as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. The ambassador also draws attention to the visit of French President Nicolas Sarkozy to Azerbaijan, the laying of the foundation stone for a French Lyceum in Baku, and the awarding of Azerbaijan`s First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva with the Order of the French Legion of Honor Officer. The diplomat also speaks of the development of non-oil sector in Azerbaijan and promotion of local and foreign investment, and also stresses the fact that Azerbaijan`s economy is praised in reports of the world`s leading organizations. Amirbayov also underlines Azerbaijan`s role in Europe`s energy security. The edition features the full text of the speech of Azerbaijan`s First Lady, member of Milli Majlis, head of Azerbaijan-France inter-parliamentary friendship group Mehriban Aliyeva called ‘Azerbaijan a reliable partner for Europe’, which she made on September 16, 2011 in the international conference on ‘Azerbaijan: a strategic partner for Europe`s energy security’ held at the office of the European Parliament in Paris. The First Lady highlights the history of Azerbaijan`s oil industry, activity of foreign companies in Azerbaijan during the first oil boom, the contribution of the Azerbaijani oilmen to the victory over fascism. Mrs. Aliyeva also emphasizes the favorable investment climate ensured in Azerbaijan after the country regained independence. The First Lady says: “By signing the 1994 Contract of the Century with a consortium of leading oil companies, Azerbaijan opened the resources of the Caspian Sea to the world for the first time in history. Since that time, the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic has signed 32 production sharing agreements with 53 international energy companies of 20 countries. The total amount of investments by foreign companies in oil and gas sector of Azerbaijan reaches $44bn. At present, Azerbaijan produces about 1m barrels of oil per day and about 30bn cubic meters of gas per year.” “Our proven gas reserves exceed 2.2trl cubic meters. This will allow our country to remain an important supplier of gas to international markets for the next decades. Azerbaijan has also invested in energy-transport infrastructure. One of our priorities is to diversify supply routes. Today 7 oil and gas pipelines deliver our resources to world markets via different routes.” Mrs. Aliyeva notes: “Azerbaijan has ensured its own energy security, and currently contributes to the energy security of the partner countries.” She also stresses the importance of Azerbaijan as a transit country: “We also play a role as a transit country, while ensuring access of oil suppliers from the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea to European and international markets. In both supply and transit, we are a reliable partner.” “Another historic achievement was the construction of the South Caucasus gas pipeline, which opened a corridor for the export of our gas. Azerbaijan is a reliable partner for Europe. Our approach to energy security lies in the fact that energy should not divide but unite nations and peoples. Energy should rather serve regional and international cooperation than competition or clashes. Interests of suppliers, transit countries and consumers should be the same, and, above all, lead to the prediction and mutual benefit. This is the energy philosophy of our country.” The First Lady also underlines the contribution of French energy companies Total and Gaz de France to opening a new gas field Absheron in the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian Sea. “The new field will increase the energy potential of Azerbaijan, as well as Europe`s energy security.” Mrs. Aliyeva says: “On 13 January, 2011 in Baku, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso signed a Joint Declaration on the South Corridor gas. We hope that in the near future Azerbaijani gas will be delivered to the gas markets in Europe, and relations between the European Union and Azerbaijan will become even stronger.” French Minister of Industry, Energy and Digital Economy Eric Besson`s article is titled ‘The launch of Azerbaijan`s first telecommunication satellite into space is an indicator of France`s prestige in Azerbaijan’. The Minister says: “While cooperation with Azerbaijan spans energy and ICT sectors, it will be expanded in the future." “Underlining the importance of a French company`s winning a tender for the launch of Azerbaijan`s first satellite into space, Besson notes: "Azerbaijan is France`s main partner in Caucasus, benefiting from our direct investments in this region. Relations are steadily developing." Expressing willingness in developing even more the cooperation in the ICT and services sector, the Minister points out French companies want to cooperate with Azerbaijan in agriculture, food industry, new technologies. He also touches upon the importance of the meeting with his Azerbaijani counterpart. Azerbaijani Minister of Communication and Information Technology Ali Abbasov writes in his article called ‘New technologies, new opportunities’: "Both countries intend to expand technical cooperation and trade turnover.” The Minister recalls talks with his French counterpart. Sharing his views on the prospects for France-Azerbaijan ICT cooperation, contribution of French companies to the economy of Azerbaijan, he points out: "Modernity of Baku is an indicator of our country`s progress in terms of new technologies." In his article titled ‘Azerbaijan is a vitally important country in the energy field’, Azerbaijan`s Minister of Industry and Energy Natig Aliyev says: "The rise in world population, economic development, increased demand in energy causes environmental and economic tension and that is why energy security became one of the major problems countries are concerned of." The Minister mentions Azerbaijan as “the new source, which can contribute to Europe`s energy security, reconstruction, modernization of pipelines, development of infrastructure”. The Minister provides information about alternative gas pipelines, adding “Azerbaijan will remain committed to its obligations as a reliable partner in any project”. French Minister of Transport Thierry Mariani`s article is titled ‘Strategic partner in Caucasus’. "Azerbaijan is an irreplaceable country in the international and regional energy sphere. It delivers energy to Europe with the two important pipelines (BTC, BTE). Along with being the first nation to begin industrial oil production, Azerbaijan is the country playing an important role in shipping energy resources westwards. Azerbaijan is the partner with the special geostrategic importance among South Caucasus nations and France`s top trade partner in the Caucasus region. France is going to establish cooperation in not only energy field but also other ones," the Minister says. In his article titled ‘Experience and opportunities of developed countries including France is interesting’, Azerbaijan`s Minister of Transport Ziya Mammadov says: "Development of modern and solid transport infrastructure meeting national and international standards is necessary for the country with rapidly developing economy. Without it, it is impossible to diversify either our country`s economy or develop our regions. Foreign companies including those from France are benefiting from implementation of projects in this field.” The Minister also provides information about the tasks facing the country in the transport sector, future projects, role of roads in establishing relations between the region and the rest of the world, and studying France`s experience in transport sector. The article of Vice-President of the France-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce James Hogan is called ‘Foreign investments in Azerbaijan’. "Energy resources and favorable geographical location makes Azerbaijan, situated at the crossroads of West and East, attractive for foreign investments. Azerbaijan managed to create the solid legal framework to protect investments and rights in this sphere. The positive experience of Azerbaijani law-makers in recent years will help to overcome existing shortcomings within short time,” Hogan notes. Chief of Baku-based regional economic service Daniel Patat says in his article titled ‘The economy in transition’: “Large French companies are successfully operating in Azerbaijan. Caucasus is a very interesting region for French companies. Unlike Georgia and Armenia, Azerbaijan managed to avoid the crisis. There are good opportunities for French companies to implement infrastructure projects in the fields of construction, services, environment and tourism. French companies regard Azerbaijan a country with favorable investment climate.” He also highlights the issues of foreign trade and touches upon the promising investment sectors in Azerbaijan. European parliamentarian Rachida Dati`s article is called ‘Solution to the energy security challenge’. “According to the Europe-2020 strategy, energy security is an essential issue for Europe which must be dealt with already nowadays, and not in 2020. Azerbaijan plays a special role in terms of ensuring Europe`s energy security,” Dati notes. President of Azerbaijani Export and Investment Promotion Foundation (AZPROMO) Adil Mammadov`s article is called ‘AZPROMO to boost Azerbaijan-France business relations’. In her article titled ‘Decentralized cooperation’, French Senator from Orne Nathalie Goulet highlights sister city relations between French L`Agle commune and Azerbaijan`s Naftalan city as well as the issues of cultural cooperation, including the organization of concerts and other cultural events. Goulet also hails the Heydar Aliyev Foundation`s contribution to preserving churches in Lower Normandy. “Along with offering much to Azerbaijan, we can also learn a lot from Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis. Azerbaijan is the pearl of Caucasus and it is open to any cooperation. I call on all French regions to closely cooperate with Azerbaijan.” In his article French Senator from Lower Rhine and president of Alsace International Andre Reichardt hails the Heydar Aliyev Foundation`s contribution to repairing the Strasbourg Cathedral, and also highlights the cooperation between the Ganja State University and the University of Strasbourg and the Azerbaijan-France relations in the field of literature. The article of Director of the Nizami Ganjavi Literature Museum, member of Azerbaijan`s delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, MP Rafail Huseynov is entitled ‘This year Azerbaijan and Ganja celebrate the 870th jubilee of great poet Nizami Ganjavi’. In his article called ‘France-Azerbaijan friendship is built by the parliamentary exchange’, president of the France-Caucasus inter-parliamentary friendship group at the French Senate Ambroise Dupont emphasizes the role of inter-parliamentary relations in developing the bilateral economic cooperation. He also highlights what the group can do to reduce energy dependence. Dupont says: “Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev`s energy policy serves to improve the people`s social welfare and diversify the country`s economy. At the same time, political stability encourages the creation of favorable business environment.” The article of president of French Tunnelling and Underground Space Association Alain Balan is called ‘Design, construct and extend’. He highlights the importance of relations with Azerbaijan. He says Azerbaijan can benefit from France`s experience in construction technologies. Balan stresses French companies` projects in Azerbaijan`s construction sector, adding they assist the country in preparing specialists in architecture, construction and engineering. In his article entitled ‘Launching the country`s first satellite into space was important for Arianespace’, Chairman & CEO of Arianespace Jean-Yves Le Gall says: “The launch of Azerbaijan`s first communications satellite into space in 2012 was in the company`s list of more than 20 orders. We will also launch other satellites of Azerbaijan into space in the future.” The article of international consultant Andre Berthe is called ‘Energy utilization of waste: Baku solves the problem’. Director general of Lactalis Caspi in Azerbaijan Emmanuel Durand says in his article entitled ‘A promising market for milk products’: “Lactalis Caspi LLC opened its commercial branch in Azerbaijan in 2011. There is a very favorable environment for milk production here. We plan to increase the number of our sale facilities and open representations in Azerbaijan`s regions in the near future.” The article of consultant at Mainland Business Consulting Kamala Muradova is called ‘The language of business is the same everywhere’. Sade`s official responsible for European zone Jean-Luc Debrin says: “Sade is working to purify polluted water in Azerbaijan. The company has implemented a number of projects in the country since 2010.” The article of General Manager of Schlumberger Azerbaijan Rob Algie is entitled ‘Azerbaijan, both an historical country and an exciting future for Schlumberger’. He says Schlumberger performed its first jobs in Azerbaijan in 1931, adding “we really started our first continuous operations in Azerbaijan in 1992”. “Today 16 different product lines divided into three different groups: reservoir characterization, drilling and reservoir production are supported by Schlumberger in Azerbaijan.” The article of Director for Europe at Systra Andre Ohnheiser is called ‘Baku is building the metro of future’. “We are working to bring the Baku metro to modern standards. We are building additional lines. Our goal is to build a state-of-the-art metro in Baku.” Commercial Director at Thales Air Systems Olivier Achard`s article is called ‘12 years of successful partnership’. Achard highlights what the company is doing in Azerbaijan, saying “we are working in the sphere of clean, safe and effective air traffic management”. “We are working to modernize the Azerbaijani airport, including the building of a new terminal and control center.” The article of Total Director General in Azerbaijan Marc Feuillade is titled ‘Great energy projects’. He highlights Total`s 15 year-long activity in Azerbaijan: “Total plays its role in developing Azerbaijan`s energy sector. We are participating in three big projects – Shahdeniz, Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan and South Caucasus gas pipeline project. We are cooperating with SOCAR. Total is working in Azerbaijan to realize its long-term goals. I would like to see more French companies in Azerbaijan.” Schneider Electric`s Country President for Azerbaijan Jacques Laebens` article is entitled ‘The first hybrid wind, Solar and Biogas power station in Azerbaijan, a real revolution’. “On September 13 2011, President of Azerbaijan Republic, Ilham Aliyev, inaugurated the first hybrid Wind, Solar and Biogas power station in Azerbaijan. Located in Gobustan, 1 hour drive west of Baku, the power station is a Test Site developed by the State Agency for Alternative and Renewable Energy in cooperation with Schneider Electric.” “For Azerbaijan, whose target is to produce at least 10% of its electricity needs from renewable sources by 2020, no doubt this first accomplishment is very strategic,” Laebens says.
Baku. 13.02.2012. Azertag.