Baku. 1 October. REPORT.AZ/ Interview of Report news agency with Denmark's Ambassador to Turkey and Azerbaijan Svend Olling.
How do you assess the Denmark-Azerbaijan cooperation? What are Denmark's priorities in cooperation with Azerbaijan?
Azerbaijan and Denmark are cooperating in several fields and the relationship is good between the two countries. On the economic side, I notice interesting development but also room for extended trade and investments. Another priority is Denmark’s commitment to dialogue on human rights issues and democracy in Azerbaijan, not least through our membership in the EU. I believe the dialogue is to be facilitated on multiple levels, including through intercultural exchanges in civil society, when people of Denmark and Azerbaijan meet each other as tourists, or as students or colleagues in the respective countries. Hopefully, tourism between Denmark and Azerbaijan will grow, as more and more Danes become interested in the Azerbaijani culture and the excellent possibilities Azerbaijan can offer travelers.
What spheres could be developed between the two countries?
The sphere of trade and investment is definitely one that I want to emphasize in terms of further development. Investment opportunities in Azerbaijan are of big interest to Danish companies. A good example is the beer industry with the Danish company Carlsberg in front. Other than that, Denmark and Azerbaijan are both members of the Council of Europe and the OSCE, which means the two countries have good possibilities for cooperation. In this context, human rights and democracy are of main concern for Denmark.
What about the the trade turnover with Azerbaijan? What products are exported/imported to/from Azerbaijan?
The trade volume in 2017 was 115 MDKK,which is actually a fall of 40 percent compared to the previous year. This is of course something that I would like to see change, as I believe the options for expanded trade are present. Pharmaceutical products make up the biggest group of imported goods from Denmark to Azerbaijan. Other than that, Azerbaijani import of miscellaneous foods from Denmark has been on the rise lately with a 76 percent increase compared to previous year,which is very positive.The beer industry in Azerbaijan is also of great interest to Denmark. The Danish company Carlsberg bought the biggest brewing plant in Azerbaijan, Khirdalan, in 2008 and today, products of Carlsberg Azerbaijan take 60% of the Azerbaijan beer market. Carlsberg Azerbaijan employs about 250 people and about 400 people indirectly, including distributors, agencies and contractors. Export from Azerbaijan to Denmark is very limited. This is hopefully to change into a more positive direction in the coming years.
How do you see the perspectives in developing energy cooperation with Azerbaijan?
The energy sector is one in which both Azerbaijan and Denmark are on the forefront, and cooperation is thereforevery relevant. Mærsk Drilling has a history of activity in Azerbaijan and other smaller Danish companies are also working on projects in the energy sector in the country. Other than that, I see green energy and renewables asother areas in which cooperation can develop in the future. Denmark is a world leader in these areas and has one of the most sustainable energy systems in the world. This expertise is of course something we want to promote in other countries, in this case Azerbaijan.
What projects could Denmark implement in Azerbaijan to make countries closer to each other and to present its culture, traditions etc.?
In September, I had the pleasure of travelling to Azerbaijan to participate in the EU days in Nakhchivan. The program included a day in the EuroVillage, which was a great pleasure to attend. There was a great interest from the public and the many questions of interest made it clear that the people of Azerbaijan wants to know more about Denmark and the other EU-countries. In this regard, I think the Azerbaijani public should be informed about the EU’s Erasmus+ programs that Azerbaijani students and youth can apply to in the form of scholarships, exchanges, volunteering and other youth activities.The programs provide unique possibilities of mutual academic and cultural exchanges that will create strong social bonds and benefit both countries, both in the short and in the long term.