KUALA LUMPUR, July 2 (Bernama) -- Malaysia is an important partner of Azerbaijan in the ASEAN region and the Islamic world, and the country also attaches great significance to close dialogue and cooperation with Malaysia in the spirit of friendship, mutual understanding and trust, said Azerbaijan Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov after expressing his sincere thanks for interest to Azerbaijan and its foreign policy and extending his best friendly regards to the people of Malaysia.
He said Azerbaijan and Malaysia have enormous potential for, and a strong commitment to, further enhancing bilateral cooperation for the benefit of the peoples of the two countries.
Mammadyarov said the meeting between National Leader Heydar Aliyev, the late President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, held on the sidelines of the 7th Session of the Islamic Summit Conference in Casablanca, Morocco, in December 1994, put in place the foundation of the contemporary Azerbaijan-Malaysia relations.
The minister noted that the year 2018 marked the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Azerbaijan and Malaysia, while the exchange of congratulatory letters between the President of Azerbaijan and the Prime Minister of Malaysia, as well as between the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, took place to commemorate this significant milestone.
"Over the past period, our friendly relations have been further strengthened, and our cooperation in various areas of mutual interest, including within the framework of international organisations, has grown tremendously. The exchange of diplomatic missions, high level visits and meetings between the two countries have contributed significantly to the development of bilateral cooperation. In 2014, a Joint Declaration on Friendly Relations and Partnership between the Republic of Azerbaijan and Malaysia was signed,” Mammadyarov said.
The Azerbaijan Foreign Minister said this in a reply, in an exclusive interview with Bernama International News Service in conjunction with Azerbaijan's 100 Years of Diplomatic Service. He was asked to what extent the ASEAN region and member countries like Malaysia are important to Azerbaijan in its international relations and diplomacy.
Touching on the ongoing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Mammadyarov said the Government of Azerbaijan highly appreciates the position of Malaysia regarding the resolution of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on the basis of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of the internationally recognised borders of Azerbaijan.
We are also deeply satisfied with the current level of inter-parliamentary relations, he said.
Noting that the Malaysian national oil company, Petroliam Nasional Berhad (PETRONAS), has invested more than US$4 billion in Azerbaijan’s economy to date, the minister pointed out that Azerbaijan and Malaysia enjoy close cooperation in the energy sector.
Touching on the launching of Azerbaijan’s first telecommunications satellite Azerspace-1 into orbit in 2013, he described this launching as a fruitful cooperation with Malaysia.
Mammadyarov said a number of Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) have been signed between the higher education institutions of the two countries.
In February 2016, a MoU was signed between the Anti-Corruption Department under the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to establish cooperation in preventing corruption, the minister noted.
By signing the Agreement on cooperation with the Azerbaijan State News Agency (AZERTAC) in 2014, the Malaysian National News Agency (BERNAMA) has witnessed itself significant progress in bilateral relations, he said.
However, the minister said that there are still areas where Azerbaijan would wish to see more progress.
"The current volume of bilateral trade does not correspond to the market potential of our countries. The further intensification of people-to-people relations could bring the two countries even closer," he said.
In the context of Azerbaijan-ASEAN relations, Mammadyarov said the republic is consistently developing its relations with ASEAN member states in the political, economic, humanitarian and other spheres, and to provide a strong impetus to bilateral cooperation, Azerbaijan has opened its embassies in Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam, which also cover ASEAN and its remaining member states.
The Parliament (Milli Majlis) of Azerbaijan has passed the law setting up an embassy in Thailand, he added.
"In light of the growing importance of the ASEAN region in the global economy and the sustainable socio-economic development of Azerbaijan, there is a huge potential for enhancing bilateral cooperation in many areas, including trade, investment and tourism," Mammadyarov said.