Kassym-Jomart Tokayev's visit to Azerbaijan is historic event - head of KazISS

30 years of fruitful cooperation between Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan is the result of painstaking work of domestic and foreign diplomats
Фото: azh.kz 25.08.2022 1151

President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev arrived in Baku on an official visit, where he met with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. Director of the Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Yerkin Tukumov in an interview with the correspondent of the El.kz expressed an expert opinion on the importance of such cooperation, gave an assessment of diplomatic relations between Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan for the past three decades and spoke about the future prospects of this bilateral partnership

- What role do you think the working visit of the head of state Kassym-Jomart Tokayev to Azerbaijan plays for the development of the country's foreign policy?

- In general, I would say what Azerbaijan means for our country. Here the situation is developing in such a way that despite the friendly relations of our states, we do not know much about each other. I was personally convinced of this when I visited the city of Baku in May this year. There, as the director of the Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and the head of the leading analytical structure of Azerbaijan, the Center for International Relations Studies under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, I signed a memorandum on the establishment of the Azerbaijani-Kazakh Expert Council. I had enough time to walk around the city, talk to experts, journalists, deputies and other politicians. And I concluded that Azerbaijan shows great interest in what is happening in Kazakhstan, closely follows the events inside our country. In principle, we have always been an important eastern neighbor for them. However, at the household level, Azerbaijani people do not have enough knowledge about Kazakhstan. And I believe that we also do not have enough information about what is happening in Azerbaijan. In this regard, our geographical location and the Caspian Sea, which separates our states, played a role. Therefore, there is an illusion that we do not border with the Republic of Azerbaijan, because we do not have common land borders that we have with Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and so on.

But in fact, Azerbaijan is also our neighbor, which is important for us no less than other neighboring countries.

On the other hand, the economic level of development of mutual trade between us is expressed in only $330 million according to last year's data. This indicator, according to statistics, shows that over the past year, mutual trade between Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan has tripled.

However, in my opinion, this is still an insufficient indicator of trade and economic cooperation, if we are talking about ties with close neighbors. This means only one thing - we have much to grow and strive for.

The third point is that now Kazakhstan needs to diversify transit routes. And this question is raised not only today or yesterday, but throughout all the years of our independence.

Therefore, if we consider these three factors, then, of course, the visit of our President to Azerbaijan is an important and necessary step towards rapprochement and even closer work of our states in various fields. It also plays a huge role in removing many barriers to full cooperation between the two states. This is both our interest and the interest of the Azerbaijani side. So our current initiatives can definitely be called mutually beneficial.

I would also like to note that Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan are friends not against anyone, but with each other in order to develop our large subregion of Eurasia. And this is very important to understand. Here we observe the so-called Win-Win situation for all parties. Therefore, when they say that the current visit of Kassym-Jomart Kemelevich to Azerbaijan is a historic event, I absolutely agree with this.

In my opinion, this will be a rather serious breakthrough between our countries and regions. As I said earlier, we have much to grow. For example, it would be a big and necessary step in the development of transport communications between us, tourism. In addition, it is important to pay attention not only to trade and economic cooperation, but also to cultural and humanitarian cooperation. So far, we do not have such particularly large projects, and that is why we need to know more about each other.

The more such knowledge our countries have, the greater the desire to cooperate. Fortunately, both we and Azerbaijan have something to tell about ourselves.

- Diplomatic relations between Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan celebrate their 30th anniversary this year. In your opinion, Yerkin Valitkhanovich, how fruitful and effective is this cooperation?

- Our diplomatic cooperation has always been quite fruitful, since we have no claims to each other or any controversial, conflict situations at the political level. Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan worked very closely in the Caspian format, which is also important. In principle, we have always supported Azerbaijan on many issues of its territorial integrity. Similarly, with regard to Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan has quite positive communications. All this was done for a reason, it is the result of really painstaking work of domestic and foreign diplomats. Therefore, we approach the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between us with such positive base. Now we are faced with the task of further developing this.

- What, in your opinion, are the further prospects for partnership between our countries?

- The potential for the development of our relations in any industry, whatever you take, is enormous. For example, when I wanted to go from Baku to Aktau by ferry, I did not succeed. This happened because only freight traffic is carried out on such a route. And the lack of passenger traffic by sea between our countries is a big omission that needs to be made up. Then the level of communication between our citizens would increase, the number of tourist flows would increase, and in general, for the population of both countries, this would open up new opportunities, not to mention the economy. Now it is also planned to open an air flight Nur-Sultan - Baku, and I think that this is a very correct decision. In addition, it is also worth thinking about creating films of co-production, maybe even historical.

After all, our common history has, in fact, not 30 years, but is rooted far into the centuries-old past. And this also needs to be studied and shown. Therefore, even in the cultural and historical issue there is a huge layer of work and potential. Our round table, held in May this year in Baku, was aimed at ensuring that the expert centers of the two countries provide food for thought at all levels - not only at the governmental level, but also in the field of culture, education, science.

- What opinion does the Azerbaijani side express on this issue to Kazakhstan? What theses were voiced by them in the process of holding a joint event?

- Azerbaijan is extremely positive about cooperation with us and looks at it with hope. After all, if for us Azerbaijan is a direct access to the South Caucasus, Turkey, the European Union and the Middle East, then Kazakhstan for Azerbaijanis is an outlet to Central Asia, China, and in the market - access to the Eurasian Economic Union.

So it's just as important to them. In trade, between us, there is a huge potential, and here I mean not only the exchange of goods, but also trade in the broad sense - the exchange of thoughts, capital, labor and so on. This is a two-way process that will benefit everyone.

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