Baku. 10 February. REPORT.AZ/ Ambassador of Afghanistan to Azerbaijan Mohammad Taqi Khalili gave an interview to Report News Agency.
- How do you assess our bilateral ties? Which positive outcomes brought the visit of Afghani president Ashraf Ghani to Baku in December last year?
- We have made significant progress on the expanding of our relations not only between two governments but also between two nations. We have a lot of commonalities in regard of history, traditions, languages and religion. As an Afghan ambassador, I am proud to say that we have reached an important stage of our relations.
You mentioned about visit of Mr.Ashraf Ghani, indeed his visit was an important milestone in relations between Azerbaijan and Afghanistan. This was the first official visit of Afghani president since the establishment of diplomatic relations and this happened during my tenure, so. I am happy for that.
We signed several MoUs during this visit and now we started to take practical steps in order to implement these deals. We are looking forward to sign more agreements with our Azerbaijani friends. We continue to work with several ministers in Azerbaijan. For instance, State Border Service was a very good partner off Afghanistan, Ministry of Emergency Situations very supportive of Afghanistan and in the past this ministry sent help to regions in the north of Afghanistan which were affected by the flood. We are very grateful to President Ilham Aliyev for his support.
- What can you say about economic relations between two countries?
- We are hoping to see more trade turnover in the following years. In half of 2014 the trade turnover was around 116 mln. USD, in 2015 it was 155 mln. USD. We still working to see what can we done in order to increase this number. When president Ashraf Ghani was here he had successful meeting with local businessmen. There were more than 20 CEOs. We still hope to see practical steps from Azerbaijani friends to invest to our country. There were questions regarding security issue, but as president said, we are doing our best to protect foreign investments.
- Recently Azerbaijan sent another group of Azerbaijani peacekeepers to Afghanistan. How do you evaluate the efforts of Azerbaijani peacekeepers in maintaining peace and stability in your country?
- I would like to salute those Azerbaijani soldiers via Report News Agency, who stand with Afghani government and people within ISAF mission. There are about 94 Azerbaijani soldiers and Afghani government thinks highly of their job. Afghani society is on the forefront in the war against terrorism. So they are fighting not only for the security of Afghanistan but for the security of the world.
- We see some worrying trends regarding the activity of ISIS in various regions of Afghanistan. Do you think that Afghanistan will need another mission like ISAF to combat these threats?
- As I mentioned, Afghanistan fights on the forefront of these threats and that requires rejoining of forces. Once there was an experience when Afghanistan was left by itself and what was the consequence? I am sure that now the world and our partners will never leave us alone again. For this reason we need to cooperate and be united against ISIS.
- And what about cooperation in energy sphere?
- As our president Ashraf Ghani said, he is trying to make Afghanistan an energy hub country in the region. Energy is matter of big importance to Afghanistan. Taking into consideration that Azerbaijan in rich in oil and gas, Azerbaijan could play big role in providing Afghanistan with energy resources.
- What's the position of Afghanistan regarding Nagorno Karabakh issue?
- When it comes to this issue, from one side we see invaders and from other side we see rightful defenders. Afghanistan in different international organizations supported Azerbaijan in this issue. We keep supporting Azerbaijan and we stand with your country.
- As we know, you studied here in Baku more than 20 years ago. How do you compare Baku of that time and present Baku? How many Afghani students study now in Baku?
- Somehow, I think, the reason why I feel myself comfortable here is in 20 years ago. When you work in a foreign country you need to know the delicate points of its history, culture. Thanks for that experience I feel myself at home. Today I see that the leadership of the country has done a lot for the development of the country.
Regarding the number of students, in the past we had many Afghanis who studied here in Azerbaijan, including me myself and now there approximately 20 students from Afghanistan who getting education in Azerbaijani institutions. We working closely with the Ministry of Education, other relevant organizations and SOCAR in order for our students to study in Higher Oil School.