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Azerbaijan is a serious and reliable partner for France

Azerbaijan is a serious and reliable partner for France
According to MPs, First Vice-President of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyeva's visit to Paris will give further impetus to the relations

France is one of the developed states of Western Europe. Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco, Andorra and Spain are border countries of France. The country is one of the  founders of the European Union. Moreover, France is the third  largest country of Europe after Russia and Ukraine.  Diplomatic relations between Azerbaijan and France that plays a crucial  role in  political, economic and cultural life of Europe have been formed since 1918, when the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was proclaimed. With the collapse of ADR in 1920 and the inclusion of Azerbaijan into the Soviet Union, the relations were suspended.   Over 70 years  relations between France and Azerbaijan were regulated only by the USSR Foreign Ministry.  After restoration of independence in 1991, interstate relations between Azerbaijan and France also entered a new stage. France recognized independence of Azerbaijan in January 1992, and diplomatic relations were established in February of the same year. The French ambassador was the second diplomat who started official activity in Azerbaijan follwing  the Turkish ambassador. However, Azerbaijani-French  relations were relatively weak at the initial stage. This was due to the tense military-political situation over  Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in Azerbaijan and close cooperation of France with Armenia.   Pivotal changes  were observed in Azerbaijani-French relations after Heydar Aliyev came to political power for the second time.  Since 1993, Azerbaijan's foreign policy in the European direction has further been strengthened. Relations with leading  European states, especially France have been expanded. France is one of  co-chair states ( with United States and Russia)  of the OSCE Minsk Group, which is the mediator for the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Azerbaijan-France partnership has been boosted during President Ilham Aliyev's  presidency since 2003.  It is no coincidence that President Ilham Aliyev made his first foreign visit to France as he elected  president of Azerbaijan. Without doubt, the activity of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation has had a great role in bringing the relations to such a high level. President of the Foundation, first Vice-President Mehriban Aliyeva kept these relations in the center of attention and contributed to the development of relations between the two countries. First Vice President Mehriban Aliyeva’s visit  to France also stimulated the relations.   While on a visit to the Republic of France  First Vice-president of the Republic of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyeva met David De Rothschild, the head of Rothschild Global Financial Advisory, Eric Ghebali, executive vice-president of Suez Groupe Company for international development, founder and former president of the National Cancer Institute of France professor David Khayat Next day, First Vice-President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyeva and French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe have held a one-on-one meeting in Paris.  Following the meeting, a ceremony of signing Azerbaijan-France documents was held with the participation of Mehriban Aliyeva and Édouard Philippe.   Azerbaijan’s Minister of Finance Samir Sharifov and Minister of State attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of the French Republic Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne signed "The Convention for the reconstruction of the Sumgayit-Yalama railway line of the North-South transport corridor as part of the railway sector development program” between the Republic of Azerbaijan and French Development Agency.   Chairman of the Central Bank of Azerbaijan Elman Rustamov and Managing Director at Rothschild & Cie Banque Arielle Malard de Rothschild signed "The agreement on Strategic Cooperation between the Central Bank of Azerbaijan and Rothschild & Cie Banque”.   Chairman of Baku Metro CJSC Zaur Huseynov and Senior Executive Vice President of Thales International Raphael Eskinazi signed "The research agreement on the establishment of Operation Control Center, and the agreement on the implementation of alarm and telecommunication systems of the Khojasan depot”.   Furthermore, First Vice-president Mehriban Aliyeva met with  President of the French Senate Gérard Larcher. First Vice-President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyeva has met with First Lady of France Brigitte Macron at the Elysee Palace. Moreover, First Vice-President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyeva, accompanied by Culture Minister of France Franck Riester, has visited the Orsay Museum in Paris.   Member of Milli Mejlis Hikmet Babaoglu shared his views with "Kaspi” newspaper on meetings held  during First –Vice President Mehriban Aliyeva’s visit to France and signed documents there. Azerbaijani MP emphasized one-on-one meeting held between First –Vice President and French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe was of great significance . As during the meeting French Prime Minister hailed the successful development of bilateral relations between the two countries in a number of areas, including in political and economic ones, and underlined good prospects for cooperation.   
According to the MP, France and Azerbaijan have very good relations in economic, cultural and humanitarian spheres, but there are also great potential for cooperation and more areas too: "It should be taken into consideration that France is a member of " Big Five " group determining European policy, and  a member of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs. Therefore, the high level relations with France is always in the focus of attention of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is a crucial  and reliable partner for France too. There are 59 French companies operating  in various fields of Azerbaijani economy. Following the meeting with the French Prime Minister, the documents signed on railways, communication and the banking sector show that the interests of the two states require further deepening of cooperation and the sides are ready for it." he added. 
Pointing out Azerbaijan’s stance on the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, First Vice-President Mehriban Aliyeva noted that the current status-quo is unacceptable. She underlined the UN Security Council’s four resolutions on the settlement of the conflict, saying the dispute must be resolved on the basis of these resolutions, and norms of international law, within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.
Member of Milli Mejlis  Musa Gasimli also believes that First-Vice President Mehriban Aliyeva's visit to France will stimulate the relations between France and Azerbaijan: "France is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, a nuclear state, NATO member and one of the seven developed countries of the world. There is a rich history of relations between Azerbaijan and France. During the years of independence, in 1993, the national leader Heydar Aliyev made his first foreign trip to France. Today relations between the two countries are growing nearly  in all areas. Azerbaijani-French relations  have great potential and good prospects. In my view, Mehriban Aliyeva's visit will give  new impetus to the relations. If we consider that France is a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, the visit will be of greater importance." Mus Gasimli said.    Rufik ISMAYILOV        

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