Author: Almaz MAHMUD
Azerbaijan and Estonia have established relations as soon as the both countries became independent twenty-seven years ago. However, the level of intensive relations, active cooperation, large indicators of mutual trade and investment between our countries is less than desirable. At the same time, both sides agree on the potential for developing large-scale relations and do not see problems for using their resources. For instance, Estonia is very interested in using the potential of the international transport corridor North-South, in which Azerbaijan serves as a linking country. On the other hand, our countries enjoy successful exchange of experience in the sector of information technology.
Our guest is the Vice-President of the Estonian Parliament, Kalle LAANET, who agreed to answers the questions of R+ about the current level and prospects for the development of relations between Azerbaijan and Estonia.
How do you evaluate the dynamics of the development of Azerbaijani-Estonian relations over this period? Do you think they’re good?
Relations between Estonia and Azerbaijan are definitely good and they have gotten even better as the years have passed. Estonia is one of the countries where Azerbaijan strives to develop its relations as a reliable partner.
In recent years, we have made significant progress in terms of political, economic and humanitarian cooperation between our countries. High-level reciprocal visits have been organised and important documents have been signed for the development of our relations.
What are the areas that the Republic of Estonia has more interest in Azerbaijan? What does make Azerbaijan attractive to Estonia?
Both countries are interested in economic and political cooperation. In particular, Estonia is interested in sharing its vast experience issues related to digital technology and E-government. Estonian entrepreneurs are excited about the Azerbaijani real estate market, the huge potential for the developing digital communications market and of course the growing IT-sector.
What kind of humanitarian, joint economic and investment projects can be implemented between the two countries?
Estonia highly appreciates the existing cooperation with Azerbaijan. That is the reason for many bilateral projects. The most recent one took place this year and was focused on capacity building of NGOs in the EaP countries. In the economic field, Estonia has made direct investments mainly into IT and communications sectors. Azerbaijan has invested in Estonian trade and real estate sectors. As these sectors have seen growth in both Estonia and Azerbaijan, joint investment projects should continue in the future.
Baku attaches importance to the support of Tallinn in the process of integration into the Euro-Atlantic space and close cooperation with the European Union. How Estonia is committed to providing such support to Azerbaijan under current international conditions?
Azerbaijan had Estonia’s support in joining the Council of Europe. Azerbaijan submitted an official application in 1996 when Estonia was presiding over the Council of Europe. Azerbaijan joined the Council of Europe family in 2001. Azerbaijan has Estonia’s full support in its progress towards European structures. This support is provided by such institutions as the Estonian Centre for Eastern Partnership, strategic partnership and possible perspective of a free-trade agreement.
Does Estonia support Azerbaijan's position in the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict? Do you think the modern world is interested in the peaceful settlement of conflicts? Is it ready for it?
Estonia and the EU continue to fully support the mediation efforts and proposals of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs (France, USA, Russia). We support meaningful negotiations and welcome the resumption of the high-level dialogue between the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia.
In October 2018, Baku hosted the International Humanitarian Forum, where you represented Estonia. Do such forums have any impact on the international community?
Multilateral relations are the cornerstone for communication on the world stage. Baku Humanitarian Forum is a good example of the foundation we have to lay.
High level of mobile and Internet technologies makes it possible to not only make payments but also hold elections in electronic format. Does Estonia support the development of Azerbaijan in this area?
In recent years, Estonia has made a tangible progress in terms of the development of e-government. As part of our cooperation, Estonia has held schoolings in Azerbaijan, where the students have demonstrated real interest in e-government. For example, how information and communications technology (ICT) has helped the development of the state. E-Azerbaijan has made enormous progress in recent years, wide usage of e-service from smart devices has particularly been positive