Pascal Mounier: I've learned value of friendship and hospitality in Azerbaijan - INTERVIEW

France will continue our efforts to bring the parties to resume dialogue and we hope that a compromise will be found, French Ambassador says

Baku. 26 October. REPORT.AZ/ Interview of Report News Agency with the former Ambassador of France to Azerbaijan Mr. Pascal Mounier. 

- Mr. Ambassador, what changes have occurred in the relations between Azerbaijan and France during your work here? What kind of projects were realized?

- The bilateral relations between France and Azerbaijan have dramatically improved in three years. In the political sphere, both Presidents meet regularly. President Hollande came twice to Baku and President Aliyev went twice to Paris. To be more precise, President Hollande visited Azerbaijan in May 2014 and in April 2015. President Aliyev visited France in September 2012 and October 2014.

Our cooperation in the economic field has been very promising. 30 French companies are actively working on the Azerbaijani market. During the first European Games in Baku, beautiful IVECO buses have started to circulate in Baku streets. These buses which run on gas are now fully integrated in the capital fleet and provide Azerbaijani users with comfort, safety while respecting the environment. It’s one example among others. Alstom will deliver locomotives and is involved in the metro modernisation programme as well as Systra for engineering, Bouygues for construction and Thales for signaling. Beyond transport, energy, environment, space, agriculture are also sectors where cooperation is quickly and widely developing.

Our bilateral cooperation has been also very active in the field of education and culture. France and Azerbaijan are working on a project of a joint university and a bilateral working group has been created in this purpose whose first meetings will take place next week. The French School in Baku has started its third year of activity with a fully renewed pedagogical team composed of several French teachers and a French director. It became a very attractive and professional establishment

The Heydar Aliyev Foundation, chaired by the First Lady, HE Mrs Aliyeva, whom I have the honor to meet before my departure, has also been very active in France in promoting Azerbaijan and in taking part in major cultural initiatives (like for example the renovation of the rooms dedicated to Islam in Le Louvre in Paris).

What spheres is developed more during your diplomatic mission in Baku? 

- I guess that with my team we have achieved a major mission in increasing the level of understanding and trust between our two countries as well as the quality of the bilateral dialogue. It takes two to tango and the Azerbaijani authorities, the Azerbaijani private sector as well as teachers of French language, students, etc have shown interest for a better and richer cooperation. France will continue on this track with my successor, Aurelia Bouchez, who arrives on the 27th of October. I know her personally and she is a good friend of mine. I can assure you that she is a very professional and experienced diplomat. She used to be the EU Ambassador in Astana. She is very enthusiastic to come to Baku.

- What have you learned more about Azerbaijan and Azerbaijani people working here? Do you plan to use the experience gained in Azerbaijan, in your future activities? What new appointment have you got?

- I have learned the value of friendship and of hospitality. I also learned the importance of being patient and flexible. Azerbaijan is a Muslim country where tolerance has always existed. Azerbaijani people are very open and sincere people. I have a lot of friends here with whom I will keep contact. Paris is only five hours flight from Baku. And with internet, distances are disappearing.

- This year was not successful for resolution of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, it's still in the stalemate. How do you see the perspectives of conflict settlementand role of France in this issue?

The Minsk Group cochaired by France, USA and Russia is working hard with both parties Azerbaijan and Armenia in order to find a peaceful way of resolving this complicated and painful conflict. France recognizes the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. We are concerned with the growing tension between the two parties. Cochairs will be in tyown nexr week. We will resolutely continue our efforts to bring the parties to resume dialogue and we hope that a compromise will be found. 

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