Visiting Belarus visa-free

The Interview of Mr.Nikolaj Packiewich, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Belarus to Azerbaijan, for the newspaper Rabitə dünyası (Azerbaijan), May 3, 2013

An interview with Belarusian ambassador to Azerbaijan Nikolai Paskevich

– How do you estimate development of the high technology sector in Azerbaijan? To what extent is investment climate advantageous at the IT market of Azerbaijan?

– We are glad to see that Azerbaijan and Belarus are confidently innovation-driven in development. The state Prezident Ilham Aliyev set a course for promotion of innovative science-driven projects as priority growth area for the non-oil sector of economics. Declaration of 2013 the year of  ICT is an evidence of the beginning of implementation in the country of the major plan of measures on information technology development. We can see dynamic modernization of industrial output, modern techno parks developing not only in such traditional industrial centers of Azerbaijan as Baku, Sumgait, Ganja, but also in such cities as Mingachevir.

We observe intensive development of telecommunication sector in Azerbaijan – the High Technologies Park and the Electronic Security Center  are established, the state Fund of Information and Communication Technologies and IT-University get started working, the number of e-services expands, switch to digital format of TV-broadcast is coming to an end. The best terms for investment are established for the high technology market.

Realization of these large-scale measures conclusively proves that in Azerbaijan balanced growth of high technologies has strategic nature. Maximal use of innovative attainment in the real sector of economy is the principal task settled.

– How do the partnership relations develop between Azerbaijan and Belarus in ICT area? Your vision on perspectives for strengthening of  collaboration between the Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies of Azerbaijan with the Ministry of Communications and Informatization of Belarus? So far as known, the joint plan of activity in the area of ICT between Azerbaijan and Belarus was signed in November, 2011. Which operations as part of this plan were put into practice?

– It is gratifying to note that cooperation in the area communications and information technologies between Azerbaijan and Belarus has become one of the key factors of bilateral cooperation, having all the necessary preconditions for further sustainable action.

In many ways, this was promoted by intensive and meaningful dialog at the summit level, trust-based relations existing between A.G. Lukashenko and I.H. Aliyev, the Presidents of our countries. The new scope of engagement marking transition to innovative knowledge-intensive aspect of our strategic partnership with Azerbaijan is opened.

Thus, constructive exchange of information between the Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies of Azerbaijan and the Ministry of Communication and Informatization of Belarus on principal directions of communication and ICT development, as well as on running projects and activities, including the initiative on formation of e-Government have been aligned.

Exchange of visits is carried out for participation at International exhibitions. In Baku, Belarusian delegation regularly participates at the International Telecommunications and Information Technologies Exhibition and Conference «Bakutel». National stand of Azerbaijan at the International Specialized Exhibition and Congress on Telecommunications, Information and Banking Technologies TIBO is at greater attention of visitors.

Practice of holding of joint business-forums became regular, as well. Belarusian-Azerbaijani business-forum in the ICT area was held in Baku in February, 2010. Just recently, in April 24, 2013 the second business-forum was successfully completed in Minsk. It’s pleasant to note that large delegation consisted of 60 representatives from the Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies of Azerbaijan, as well as such structures as ICT Development Fund, «Azerpost» LLC, «Aztelecom», Hi-Tech Park LLC, and others took participation in the forum. IT-potential of our countries was presented at the forum, where business meetings and negotiations were conducted, bilateral agreements and contracts for the supply of IT-products were concluded, and actual directions of bilateral co-operation both in the area of ICT and nanotechnologies, space were defined.

– In June, 2010 the agreement on strengthening of cooperation in the area of ICT between Azerbaijani and Belarusian governments was signed. What can you tell about initiatives implemented within the terms of the agreement?

– Intergovernmental agreement on collaboration was signed in June, 2010 during the visit of the Belarus Republic President A.G. Lukashenko to Azerbaijan. Cooperation between the Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies of Azerbaijan and Ministry of Communication and Informatization of Belarus is in active progress within the terms of the agreement.

The area of space containing a great potential of collaboration serves for Illustration of teamwork of our countries’ scientists. As you know, Belarus and Azerbaijan have recently joined a Spacefaring Nation Club.

Therefore this topic became a subject of interested consideration in the area of ICT at the second business-forum in Minsk. Particularly, consensus on signing of appropriate agreements became one of the great results of the forum, especially, on collaboration of information using received from the Belarusian spacecraft. Draft agreement has already prepared and handed on the Azerbaijan side for consideration.

I’d like to note, as well that substantial Azerbaijan delegation at the Minsk forum was headed by Ali Abbasov, the Minister of Communications and Information Technologies. Academic Ali Abbasov as an outstanding scientist, one of the active adherents of development of  Belarus-Azerbaijan cooperation is well known in Belarus. We see Azerbaijan to be headily among the top ranking countries for advanced level of technology adoption in fields of society life due to efforts of the Ministry of Communications and IT and personally of A.Abbasov. At the business-forum, held in Minsk, A.Abbasov met with Mikhail Myasnikovich, the Prime-minister of Belarus, N.Panteley, the Minister of Communications and Informatization of Belarus. Within the frameworks of meetings prospects of bilateral cooperation were discussed. We consider that prime significance must be attached to contacts in management level of branches, and periodicity of bilateral visits is an indispensable guaranty of success.

– Are Azerbaijan communication companies presented at the Belarus IT market? Which IT companies of the Belarus Republic are working in Azerbaijan today?

– Residents of Belarus High Technologies Park and Azerbaijan IT companies actively share their experience, long-term development in the various areas, including “e-Government”, oil and gas, bank, insurance development and other economy sectors. On one hand, such a way allows preparing own cadres in the IT area, on the other hand – functioning of High Technologies Parks allows drawing advanced foreign experiment into the country.

In the year of 2010, during the first Belarus-Azerbaijan business-forum in Baku, association agreements between specialized universities, contracts between IT-companies were signed. An agreement on strengthening of cooperation in the ICT field and training of personnel was achieved at meetings between Azerbaijan Company “Ultra” and Belarus company “System technology”.  A number of residents of Belarus High Technologies Park carry out allocation system of e-banking in some Azerbaijan banks.

During the second business-forum in Minsk, Azerbaijani software companies (Sinam, Ultra, BestComp Group, Microsoft, etc.) discussed concrete aspects of collaboration with Belarus colleagues.

Certainly, cooperation potential of our companies is not fully discovered. I’m sure that partner relations between representatives of IT sector will maturate trending up.

– Which areas today are preferable for Belarus in collaboration with Azerbaijan?

– In the context of bilateral Belarus-Azerbaijan cooperation it is important to tell about projects growing out of a simple barter. This is creation of the new joint productions in the various areas of economy, realization of the joint innovative projects, intensification of cooperation in the field of science, education, public health service, building industry, including creation of joint educational institutions, export of services, and certainly, development of information technologies. The realm of investment cooperation is a special direction that must be in progress. Spectrum of possible perspective projects is wide enough. Our country is open for cooperation with our Azerbaijan partners in all the areas of mutual interest, as well.

– What are your plans for the nearest future?

– In June, 2013 Belarus and Azerbaijan will celebrate a significant date – “20 years of Azerbaijan-Belarus diplomatic relations”. This is not only the time of summarizing the path covered, but planning for the future.

We expect the Belarus President A.G. Lukashenko to visit Azerbaijan this year. This event accomplishing the third stage of visit exchange between the presidents of Belarus and Azerbaijan, will certainly, serve for further strengthening of bilateral commercial-economic and humanitarian cooperation.

Activities of Belarus-Azerbaijan intergovernmental commission on trade and economic cooperation will also achieve upward trend, the 8-th session of which will be held in Baku in the second half of this year.

We are convinced that growth of contact intensity at the level of business and humanitarian interaction, extending co-operation in the area of production cooperation, increase of number of capital investment projects and, as a result, increase in turnover and strengthening of brotherly bonds between our nations will become the result of our joint work.