Egyptian ambassador: Azerbaijan's political leadership has a completely different approach to the development of the liberated territories-INTERVIEW

Egyptian ambassador: Azerbaijan
# 28 November 2022 20:00 (UTC +04:00)

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Arab Republic of Egypt in the Republic of Azerbaijan Hisham Mohamed Nagy Abdel Hamid was interviewed by APA

- Mr. Ambassador, how do you assess the current bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and Egypt? What steps are being taken to deepen the relations between our countries in the future?

- Relations between our countries are at a high level and have very deep, ancient roots. The roots of these relations go back even to the period before Azerbaijan gained independence. Egypt is one of the first countries to recognize Azerbaijan's independence and open its embassy in Azerbaijan. Egypt recognized the independence of Azerbaijan in 1992, and in 1993, the Egyptian embassy in Azerbaijan began to operate. Azerbaijan opened an embassy in Egypt in 1994.

Relations between the two countries are at a high level and are developing in other areas as well as the political level. Our mutual cooperation between our countries in political, economic, tourism and many other spheres, mutual support of the countries in the international arena promotes the development of relations between the two countries. In February of this year, a meeting of the Joint Commission on Intergovernmental economic, technical and scientific cooperation between the two countries was held in Azerbaijan, and in July of this year, political consultations between Azerbaijan and Egypt took place in Baku. This, in turn, further strengthens the development of Azerbaijan-Egypt relations.

At the same time, I must emphasize that steps are currently being taken to improve the level of economic relations between our countries. Because the existing economic relations between Azerbaijan and Egypt have wider prospects and it is necessary to make maximum use of the opportunities.

- As you know, Azerbaijan chairs the Non-Aligned Movement, of which Egypt is one of the founders. How do you evaluate Azerbaijan's chairmanship of this organization?

- Our relations in any organization are based on mutual relations and relations between two states. Egypt and Azerbaijan participate in a number of international organizations in a coordinated and mutual manner. As for the Non-Aligned Movement, Egypt is one of the founders of this movement. It is very gratifying that Azerbaijan joined this organization in 2010 during a meeting held in Egypt. The fact that Azerbaijan became a member of this movement in Egypt means that there are high-level relations between the two countries, and our countries cooperate very closely within the framework of this organization.

I should also mention that Azerbaijan was elected as the chairman of this organization and the term of Azerbaijan's chairmanship was extended due to the pandemic. This decision was also supported by Egypt. I especially want to note that Azerbaijan's chairmanship of this organization coincides with a different era. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the leadership of Azerbaijan on the occasion of chairing the Non-Aligned Movement.

The views I expressed about Azerbaijan regarding the Non-Aligned Movement also apply to our relations in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. There is coordinated, high-level cooperation between the two countries, relations are at a high level.

Leaving aside our mutual cooperation in international organizations, I would like to mention one point that one of the factors connecting both countries is tolerance and both countries' fight against radicalism. In general, joint cooperation between Azerbaijan and Egypt does not end with the two organizations I mentioned. We also have high-level mutual cooperation in a number of other prestigious organizations of the world, such as the UN.

- The President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, has an expected visit to Azerbaijan. However, this visit has not taken place for years. Is the visit actual?

- His Excellency the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Mr. Ilham Aliyev invited His Excellency the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt Mr. Abdulfattah al-Sisi to visit Azerbaijan, but due to the pandemic, this visit did not take place and later the invitation was renewed. At present, the preparation process for this visit is underway, and work is being done, but there is no exact information on the date of the visit. In short, the visit is expected.

- Egypt invited Azerbaijan to invest in the Suez Canal special economic zone. What are the updates on this issue?

- Yes, Egypt made such a proposal to Azerbaijan. We will be very happy if Azerbaijan is one of the countries investing in that region. I think that there are currently discussions about this issue in Azerbaijan. We are waiting for the answer from the Azerbaijani side. The purpose of the works carried out in the Suez SEZ is to develop communication, road infrastructure, technology, sea transportation, and other areas. Residential complexes are also expected to be built there, and the works will contribute to the development of the regional states and the increase in the volume of international trade. What are the updates on this issue?

- How is the cooperation in the sphere of tourism between Azerbaijan and Egypt encouraging? How do you rate it?

- First of all, I should say that there were flights between Baku and Sharm el-Sheikh, but there was a break due to the coronavirus. These flights were resumed on March 18 of this year. This also shows that Azerbaijani citizens are very eager to visit Egypt and their number continues to grow. Note that tourists can very easily get a visa for Egypt by approaching the embassy and or at the airport, which is an advantage.

Flights to the city of Sharm el-Sheikh made a great contribution to the development of mutual cooperation between our countries, to the rapprochement of the peoples of Azerbaijan and Egypt, and to the fact that the people could get more information about each other. It should be noted that there are deep-rooted friendly relations between these two nations. Let's not look at this issue only from the point of view of tourism. In addition to the development of tourism, it supports the development of other important spheres, the level of cultural relations between the countries, and the integration of the countries.

Visitors to Sharm el-Sheikh think that it is only a tourist town, but when they walk around the city, they see that Sharm el-Sheikh is a city of large-scale conferences. As an example, the 27th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-27) was held in Sharm el-Sheikh on November 6-18. About 100 heads of state and government, and 60 thousand representatives took part there. Not every state can host such a big event.

Azerbaijan's Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources Mukhtar Babayev, within the framework of this conference, held a bilateral meeting with his Egyptian counterpart Yasmin Fuad, which is an example of the relations between our countries.

I should also add that Egypt has many cities to visit. Among them, in addition to resort cities, there are also a number of other touristic cities with a large number of historical monuments reflecting ancient history.

- Mr. Ambassador, can you share with us your impressions of your visit to the liberated territories of Azerbaijan?

- I visited the liberated territories, including Agdam and Kalbajar. I don't want to talk about what happened in the past in those areas. I now want to talk about the work done for the prosperity and development of those areas in the future. It is noticeable that the political leadership of Azerbaijan has a completely different approach to the development of the liberated territories.

Kalbajar is a region with a very high perspective on the development of tourism. I can compare it with the Alps in Switzerland. There is such a nature there... Kalbajar is surrounded by snowy mountains, green meadows, and rivers. This is the wonder of nature. Many countries do not have such beauty. After the resumption of transportation to Kalbajar, there will be a huge influx of tourists.

Let me add that my visits to the liberated areas were very successful and efficient.

- Considering that Azerbaijan has been under occupation for many years, but despite this, Azerbaijan is taking steps to achieve peace with Armenia...

- Experience shows that every problem, conflict is solved through negotiations and with the help of mediators. I hope that with the support of mediators, peace will be achieved between Azerbaijan and Armenia and all misunderstandings will be resolved once and for all. Ensuring peace in the South Caucasus is in the interests of not only Azerbaijan and Armenia but also a number of states because this region is located in a very favorable, important geopolitical and geographical position. Egypt always supports the peaceful resolution of conflicts.

- Egypt is the first Arab country to recognize Israel's independence, and because of that, it faced a number of problems. Currently, a number of Arab countries are normalizing their relations with Israel. As a result of the steps you took years ago, relations between Israel and Arab countries are normalizing. It would be interesting to learn your thoughts on this.

- The recently signed agreement between the Arab countries and Israel called the "Abraham Agreement" includes cooperation in many economic spheres, besides talking about the possibilities of establishing peace in the Middle East.

As for Egypt, on October 6, 1973, Egypt started a war to liberate its occupied territories, and this war ended with the signing of the Camp David Accords in 1979. Egypt confirms the principle of solving problems through peace and negotiations, and our country's desire is to achieve a permanent solution to the Palestinian issue as the basis of peace in the Middle East.

- There was tension in the relations between Egypt and Turkey. At what level is the process of normalization of international relations at present? I should also mention that the photo of the leaders of Egypt and Turkey was on the agenda at the opening ceremony of the world football championship held in Qatar.

- Egypt and Turkey are two big countries in the Middle East. Nothing is impossible in politics. As for the tension between our countries and the photo of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi at the banquet given to the leaders on the occasion of the opening of the World Championship in Qatar, I do not want to get ahead of the events. Time will tell.

Photo by Orkhan Karimov © APA group