Energy co-op between Azerbaijan, Czech Republic - of strategic importance

Energy Opinion 27 January 2023 09:20
Baku, Azerbaijan Trend News Agency
Energy co-op between Azerbaijan, Czech Republic - of strategic importance

The bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and the Czech Republic revived over the past after a previous slowdown, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the cooperation developed in many directions, Jaroslav Kurfürst, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, told Trend in an exclusive interview.

"Trade and economic cooperation is among the top priorities of our bilateral relations. The trade statistics of 2022, which was significantly affected by the coronavirus pandemic, have shown gradual recovery and impressive year-on-year growth. According to the data of the Czech Statistical Office, the trade turnover in the period from January through November 2022 has increased by 116 percent, which is really promising," he said.

According to the deputy minister, a gradual return of Czech companies to the Azerbaijani market has been observed from the second half of 2022, with the revival of these business activities supported by the resumption of the direct Prague-Baku air route.

Further speaking, the official noted that, currently, the Czech Republic is exploring opportunities to expand its presence in the transport connectivity and energy sectors in Azerbaijan.

"In the previous decade, the most important Czech investment projects in Azerbaijan were in the field of transport infrastructure. Our flagship project, the reconstruction of the Azerbaijani part of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway Corridor, was completed by a group of our companies led by Moravia Steel in 2019. As we are approaching a new and very different era, we are hoping for new investment opportunities for our companies in Azerbaijan in the sphere of connectivity and energy," he said.

According to the deputy minister, the cooperation between Azerbaijan and the Czech Republic in the energy field is of strategic importance.

"A pilot project completed by Czech companies in the Garavalli village school in the Shamakhi region in 2018 was aimed at raising awareness about the efficient use of energy resources. We consider bilateral cooperation in these areas important; therefore the Czech-Azerbaijani Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Energy was signed during the visit of our Minister of Foreign Affairs in Baku in September 2021," he said.

The implementation of the Agreement may boost the bilateral cooperation in the field of diversification of the energy supplies, as well as the involvement of Czech companies in projects focusing on energy efficiency and renewables, Kurfürst noted.

Meanwhile, the Czech Republic has also been talking about activities promoting economic and trade cooperation with relevant Azerbaijani institutions, Kurfürst noted.

"The prospects for cooperation are broad, they are based on the friendly relations between our countries and our Strategic Partnership. However, this year is a bit special since on January 27, we are celebrating together the 30th anniversary of the establishment of our mutual diplomatic relations. We are confident that we will successfully use this opportunity to further strengthen cooperation with Azerbaijan in many areas. We would very much welcome the development of relations between our parliaments and will focus on further strengthening our high-level political dialogue," he said.

According to the deputy minister, the earliest bilateral event scheduled for 2023 is the 5th Session of the Joint Commission on Economic, Scientific-Technical and Cultural Cooperation and accompanying business forum in Prague in early March.

"This event will certainly intensify the discussion in the various fields of cooperation between the two countries," he noted.

As Kurfürst pointed out, Czech businessmen are keen to explore new opportunities in the Azerbaijani market.

"Our economic and energy cooperation already has a deep tradition and we believe that we will succeed in developing it further. Czech companies are very much interested in business cooperation with their Azerbaijani counterparts; hence several projects to assist Czech entrepreneurs at Azerbaijani market will be supported by our government during this year. The undergoing preparation of the Czech stand at the Azerbaijan International Travel and Tourism Fair and the Caspian Agro fairs is also worth mentioning. At the same time, currently, several projects are in the initial stage of discussion. We believe that the upcoming 5th Session of the Joint Commission on Economic, Scientific-Technical and Cultural Cooperation and accompanying business forum in Prague in early March will provide further momentum," he concluded.