Ambassador: Germany satisfied with medical knowledge, skills of Azerbaijani specialists - INTERVIEW


Azerbaijan is one of Germany's main economic and political partners in Western Europe. Economic relations between the two countries are based on two centuries of history. So, in the second half of the 19th century, the German company Siemens built large copper smelting plants in Gadabay district and cobalt plants in Dashkasan. The political relations between the two countries were established at the end of the 20th century. On January 12, 1992, Germany recognized the independence of Azerbaijan, which laid the foundation for the establishment of diplomatic relations.

During the past 32 years, these relations have developed in an upward direction. In 2020 alone, the share of Azerbaijan in the trade turnover of Germany with the countries of the South Caucasus was about 65 percent. In 2022, the volume of annual trade turnover between the two countries was $1.255 billion. Today, Azerbaijan is among the main oil-exporting countries for Germany. Several Azerbaijani companies in fields such as banking, airlines, and oil have representative offices in Germany. In addition, there is expanding cooperation in the fields of energy, gas, and healthcare.

Thanks to the strength of all these relations, hundreds of Azerbaijanis study or work in Germany today.

Against the background of the development of relations between the two countries, Report had an interview with the Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Azerbaijan to Germany, Nasimi Aghayev:

- When I looked at your biography, I saw that Germany is not a stranger to you. So, in 2003–2005, you studied for a master's degree in Germany, and in 2005–2008, you worked as a secretary at the Embassy of Azerbaijan in Germany. That is, you are familiar with the country and the environment. Has this awareness been helpful in your current job?

- Yes, as you mentioned, studying in Germany, as well as continuing part of my activities as a diplomat in German-speaking countries such as Germany and Austria, were very useful for my activities as an ambassador. Both during education and work activities, there is an opportunity to get to know German society, way of thinking, and traditions in depth. This, as a diplomat, helps to establish close communication and business relations with German officials and public representatives in professional activity, as well as to reach an understanding on issues where there is a difference of opinion and to solve problematic issues.

​- Germany is one of the main economic partners of Azerbaijan in Europe. How have the dynamics of trade between the two countries changed in recent years?

- Yes, Germany is one of the main economic partners of Azerbaijan in Europe. Azerbaijan is Germany's most important economic partner in the South Caucasus. Officials of both countries have repeatedly expressed this in their statements. In January–September 2023, the trade turnover between Azerbaijan and Germany amounted to $1.3 billion. The volume of imports from Germany to Azerbaijan was approximately $700 million, and the volume of exports was $550 million. This indicates a significant increase compared to previous years. Currently, more than 160 Azerbaijani companies operate in Germany. There are 163 German companies in Azerbaijan. In my opinion, there is a wide potential for economic and trade relations between the two countries and for the further development of these relations. Efforts from both sides should be increased, and opportunities should be evaluated. Strengthening economic relations with Germany, increasing the volume of investments from this country, attracting modern technologies to our country, as well as bringing products and services produced in Azerbaijan to the German market are one of the main priorities of our embassy.

- Are new economic projects expected to be implemented soon?

- It is gratifying that German companies are also interested in the opportunities in the liberated territories of Azerbaijan, Karabakh, and East Zangazur economic regions, and the infrastructure and investment projects implemented in those regions. In this regard, the relevant institutions in Azerbaijan received requests from several German companies. As an embassy, we work to further expand this interest in German companies and involve them in the mentioned projects. Also, the activities carried out by Azerbaijan in the field of renewable energy and the decisive role played by our country in the development of the Middle Corridor have attracted the great interest of German companies, and we are working on specific joint projects in this direction.

- Are mutual visits by state officials expected in the near future?

- There are frequent mutual visits between the two countries. In 2023 alone, President Ilham Aliyev made two working visits to Germany. One of these visits was related to participation in the Munich Security Conference. The other one was paid to Berlin at the invitation of Chancellor Olaf Scholtz. Both visits made an important contribution to the development of bilateral relations. Besides, the Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, Annalena Baerbock, visited Baku in November 2023. This was the first visit by a German foreign minister to Azerbaijan in seven years. The visit of the Speaker of the Milli Majlis (Parliament), Sahiba Gafarova, to Berlin at the end of November and the fruitful meeting with the President of the German Bundestag, Bärbel Bas, played an important role in strengthening our inter-parliamentary relations. The visits of Hikmat Hajiyev, the assistant to the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and Elchin Amirbayov, the President's Representative on special assignments, to Berlin last year, as well as the mutual visits of the deputy foreign ministers of the two countries and the political consultations, created a favorable basis for the deepening of bilateral relations. All these visits indicate the high interest and importance the two countries show each other. Our embassy continues to work on increasing the intensity of high-level mutual visits, and we hope that the current year will be fruitful in this regard.

- The embassy's contacts with Azerbaijanis living in Germany are also interesting. We have seen in recent years that Azerbaijanis often immigrate to Germany for education or work. How many members of the Azerbaijani community in Germany are there at the moment? What events are organized for them?

- Indeed, recently, there has been an increase in the number of Azerbaijanis immigrating to Germany for education and work. This is primarily because education for foreign nationals is almost free in Germany, as well as the recent job opportunities for certain specialists, such as IT specialists and doctors. However, it is somewhat difficult to provide information about the exact number of the Azerbaijani community in Germany. Thus, not all Azerbaijani citizens living in Germany are registered at our embassy. Besides, this number is not fixed. Both the number of Azerbaijanis who acquired German citizenship and the number of Azerbaijanis who left this country and returned to their homeland for one reason or another are constantly changing. As soon as I started working as an ambassador, I addressed our compatriots and told them that our embassy is the home of every Azerbaijani and is open to them. In a short period of time, serious improvements have been made in the activities of our consular department. Our goal is to always provide prompt and transparent service to all our citizens who apply to us, to ensure citizen satisfaction.

- How is the embassy's coordination with the Azerbaijani diaspora established? Is there a possibility to influence their activities?

- Our embassy is in regular contact with our diaspora in Germany. We don't have an event where our diaspora representatives are not represented. We extend an invitation to all our compatriots on our registration list regarding the events we hold, and we support the events organized by them within the available means. Embassy staff responsible for working with the diaspora are in constant contact with them, interested in their problems, concerns, plans, and future activities, and provide the necessary support.

- In particular, we come across news that medical workers have moved to Germany. Some time ago, the II Forum of Azerbaijani Doctors was held in Berlin. How many Azerbaijani doctors work in this country? Although this is a flattering situation, it is not a positive trend in terms of the country's healthcare system. During the meeting with those doctors, do you observe signs of a desire to return to the motherland?

- Currently, more than 1,000 doctors and medical workers from Azerbaijan are working or improving their qualifications in various hospitals and medical institutions in Germany. I should also mention that the level of preparation, medical knowledge, and skills of Azerbaijani specialists satisfy the German side. They are highly trusted. Among the doctors working in Germany, we already have dozens of specialists who are chief physicians and heads of departments. This is, of course, heartwarming. The presentation of Azerbaijanis in Germany to German society in this way is also important from the point of view of the image of our country. On the other hand, these specialists can contribute to the development of medicine in Azerbaijan. This issue was also discussed at the II Forum of Azerbaijani Doctors held in Berlin in November 2023 and is always at the center of attention. There are also facts that some of the doctors working in Germany have already returned to Azerbaijan.

- What kind of events were carried out in Germany regarding the 100th anniversary of National Leader Heydar Aliyev?

- The fact that the glorious Azerbaijani Army, under the leadership of the Victorious Supreme Commander-in-Chief, President Ilham Aliyev, fully ensured the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan in the year when the 100th anniversary of the Great Leader Heydar Aliyev was celebrated, made this remarkable date even more memorable. Because the complete restoration of Azerbaijan's sovereignty and territorial integrity was Heydar Aliyev's greatest wish. As the Embassy of Azerbaijan in Germany, we also held several events in 2023 related to the 100th anniversary of the Great Leader. Among them, we can mention a large concert dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the birth of National Leader Heydar Aliyev, held on May 2, 2023, with the participation of the Berlin Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra at the Azerbaijan Cultural Center located in Berlin with the support of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and the organization of the embassy, and the Heydar Aliyev and the Cultural Heritage of Azerbaijan photo exhibition, jointly organized by the embassy, the State Committee for Diaspora Work, and Azerkhalcha OJSC, at the QGallery in Berlin on November 19, 2023. Besides, a classical music night was held at the Azerbaijani Cultural Center in Berlin on December 12, 2023, and postage stamps on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of National Leader Heydar Aliyev were published by the Federal Publishing House of Germany with the organization of the embassy and the order of Azerpost LLC. I would also like to highlight a portrait of Heydar Aliyev painted by the young Azerbaijani artist Gunay Shamsi, who lives in Berlin, with the support of the embassy. The memory of the Great Leader is dear to every Azerbaijani. Our embassy aims to continue such events in the coming years.