Toespraak

30-04-2015

Azerbaijan - Belgium Business Forum

April, 30th, 2015


- - - the spoken word alone prevails - - -

 

[Introduction]

 

Mr. Minister,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

I am delighted to be here in Baku for the first time as Belgian Secretary of State for Foreign Trade. In my previous position as Belgian Minister of Defence, I had the opportunity to visit Azerbaijan several times, mainly in the context of the important contributions both of our countries delivered to NATO and the International Security and Assistance Force in Afghanistan. Indeed, Azerbaijan played and continues to play an important role in guaranteeing security and stability in this region of the world, and I have very much appreciated the constructive role of this country in the past years as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, and of course also your contributions within the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe and in partnerships with the European Union.

 

Excellences, Ladies and gentlemen,

First of all, Iā€™d like to express all my gratitude to AZPROMO for the excellent organization of this Business Forum. Teshekkurler Azpromoya ! (Great thanks to Azpromo)

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I just had a very fruitful exchange of views with Vice-Minister of Economy Sahil Babayev. Our companies were informed about the impressive Tamiz Shahar Project, for which they can offer cutting-edge technology and expertise. I met with SOCAR, with the Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources and I will meet tomorrow with the Vice-Minister of Transport and the Vice-Minister of Emergency Situations. I am really pleased to be able to work through such a substantial and promising schedule and I wish to thank the Azerbaijani authorities for their dynamic cooperation. Yesterday, we visited the SOFAZ Tower, which happens to be a jewel of Belgian engineering, and our companies visited the International Sea Trade Port of Baku, a must for Belgium which is the gateway to the European market and the number one country for logistics and distribution in Europe.

This Belgian Mission is in many ways unprecedented in our relations with Azerbaijan. We brought together about sixty companies, including flagship companies, and we produced a fine example of cooperation between the Voka Chamber, the Walloon export agency AWEX and our Embassy in Baku.

 

This mission is also long overdue. It is obvious that our trade relations and broader economic relations are far below their potential. We are interested in contributing to ā€“ and benefiting from ā€“ the accelerated growth, transformation and modernisation of Azerbaijan and we are here with a broad range of companies that can do just that.

 

Another colleague of mine will be visiting Azerbaijan in the coming months : the Minister of Sports of Wallonia for the European Games in Baku. He will come with a 120-strong sports delegation, that means as many Belgian athletes as in the Olympic Games in London. I take the opportunity to congratulate Azerbaijan for the very impressive feat : in two and a half years, you built the kind of infrastructure that others take seven years to build.

 

 [Conclusion]

 

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is just the beginning. I am convinced that our meeting will yield very concrete results. Now it is up to the companies to show what they can do.

Thank you for your attention.

 

- - - the spoken word alone prevails - - -


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