Baku. 8 September. REPORT.AZ/ Report News Agency presents Interview of "Report" news agency with the ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of Albania to Turkey and Azerbaijan Genci Mucaj.
- How do you estimate the diplomatic relations between Albania and Azerbaijan?
- The diplomatic relation with Azerbaijan was established on September 22nd 1993. The relationship between two countries are friendly and in comparison with other ex-USSR countries have enjoyed and increasing collaboration and there are 8 government agreement which are signed the last couple of years more over the TAP project has brought the two countries closer to each other.
- What can you say about economical ties between our countries? What's the level of trade turnover between Albania and Azerbaijan? And which spheres of mutual cooperation are the most active?
- Although there’re a lot of high level visits between government officials and the intention to grow the economic relation is in good will, yet the trade volume is almost in existence and we are hoping to explore ways to increase it. SOCAR has shown interest in gasification of Albania gas network, since we are part of TAP, part of the gas will be used for domestic consumption. Azerbaijan is regarded an important political and economic partner of Albania in the Caucasian region and that matter we plan to soon open respective embassies in Baku and Tirana. President Aliyev is expected to visit Albania late this year, a visit which will be well received and will indeed intensify our relationship.
The relationship between Azerbaijan and Albanian people are historic and it is not by coincidence that Azerbaijan was once called Albanians! It is said that Albanian solders of Alexander the great were settled in beautiful Azerbaijan and made it their own family.
During the time that I presented my credential to President Aliyev we spoke about the amicable feeling that the nations have and their historical ties.
You may ask any Albanian in Albania about Azerbaijan and you will automatically be embraced with a sense of warm friendship. Azeri people are loved and respected in Albania. The same I found when I visited Azerbaijan myself.
- There is too little information about Albania in Azerbaijan. What can you say about your country? How it can attract Azerbaijani businessmen and tourists?
- Yes true, unfortunately we know little about ourselves and it is on our mission to bring the two nations together, culturally and economically. Azeri businessman have invested in the neighboring Macedonia, Montenegro or have offices and do business in Albania via their headquarters in Turkey and Greece, but time has come that this trend to be changed. There’s a great potential to invest in tourism in Albania where 80% of its beautiful Mediterranean coastline are not developed and touristic resorts can offer world class services.
- How many Azerbaijani tourists visited Albania last and this year? Does Albania plan to lift visa regime for Azerbaijani citizen as Bulgaria, FYR Macedonia and Montenegro do during summer period?
- Azeri passport holders do not need visa to enter Albania. The government of Albania lifted visa for Azeri in May 2011 and we hope that will happen in Azeri part too. I am sure this only a matter of time and bureaucratic procedures. The number of tourist from Azerbaijan to Albania is still limited but this is again because of knowing too little about each other. I am confident that people will find their way to get together as government pave their road.
- Does Albania plan to open its embassy in Baku?
- Yes indeed. Both Embassies will open soon, and we have a come a long way to this day. The next coming visit of President Aliyev to Albania will also serve for this purpose among many other agreements which we hope to reach.
- What would you advice to expand our mutual cooperation?
- Freedom of movement, free initiative, people to people contacts are among best ways to connect nations. The first photo exhibition about Albania where organized with the support of Azeri Art Council, and its founder, Mr Dadash Mammadov in November 2013 which attracted lots of curious visitors and it was truly a great success.
The deputy Minister of Culture attended the event. We do plan other events too, such as business forum, tourist fair, film festival, art festival, culinary and most probably Albanian Cultural Center in Baku will be open in due course. A lot is ahead of us and time is needed but great zeal is there from both sides.
-What's the position of Albania regarding bleeding problem of Azerbaijan - Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?
- This is a conflict which certainly concerns all Azeri friends including us. Albania recognizes the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and Nagorno Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan, based on International law. We support the peace talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan as per Minsk group format, and we do want to see a peaceful solution of the conflict. In the universal principals of UN, the territorial integrity of a country forms the fundamental milestones of international rights order. Albania along EU and OSCE is committed to find a peaceful solution to the bloody conflict and build a brighter future for the region.