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Monday, 30 December 2013 12:06

We hope for Azerbaijan’s energy resources to appear in the Moldovan market in the foreseeable future - Igor Bodiu, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Moldova to the Republic of Azerbaijan

We hope for Azerbaijan’s energy resources to appear in the Moldovan market in the foreseeable future - Igor Bodiu, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Moldova to the Republic of Azerbaijan

“There are several more attractive spheres for cooperation between our countries. We have a very similar agricultural production. It was late in the past year the delegation headed by our Minister of Technologies and Information visited Azerbaijan and held a number of important meetings. We hope for achievement of new results in this sphere which is priority for bilateral cooperation. Drawing of investments from Azerbaijan to Moldova has been one of our priorities”, Igor Bodiu, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Moldova to the Republic of Azerbaijan, said in his exclusive with  First Class. 

First Class (FC): What are the outcomes of the embassy operation through 2012? What could you tell about plans for this year?

Igor Bodiu, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Moldova to the Republic of Azerbaijan: Embassy’s operation schedule was quite loaded and full of bilateral events. As is known, our relations have traditionally been bearing a friendly character. We maintain cooperation in all existing segments of bilateral relations: trade-economic, political and cultural. Thus, the past year marked a number of important events. Noteworthy are the visit made by Moldovan Prime Minister to the Republic of Azerbaijan in January 2012, conduction (in Kishinev) of the session of the intergovernmental commission for trade-economic cooperation, as well as a number of interministerial meetings.

The culture days of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Moldova were the following significant event in bilateral relations. Therefore, the year was tense enough from the standpoint of bilateral relations and important events. 

 

FC: Which official visits are planned to be made this year?

Igor Bodiu: The embassies of friendly states are always engaged in arrangement of important bilateral visits. We have scheduled President Ilham Aliyev’s visit to the Republic of Moldova for this year. However, there will be more details about this issue after completion of the elections in the Republic of Azerbaijan. Besides, Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs for the European Integration of the Republic of Moldova, Yuri Lyanke is expected to arrive in Baku in the beginning of April of this year. He is also expected to participate in the meeting of former graduates of the Moscow State University of International Relations. The culture days of Moldova are planned to be held in Azerbaijan in 2013.

 

FC: What work is carried out for attracting tourists to Azerbaijan and from this country to Moldova?

Igor Bodiu: Development of tourism industry has been on initial stage both in Moldova and Azerbaijan. Therefore, the bilateral cooperation in this area has also been on the initial stage. Nevertheless, both Moldova and Azerbaijan have been actively cooperating in the tourism sphere within the framework of GUAM (Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova). GYAM has a certain program which aims at attraction of tourists from the third countries. Moldovan tourists do certainly visit Azerbaijan. As far as the Azerbaijani tourists are concerned, they mainly make visits for private initiatives and interests. To our regret, there has been no contact established between the tourism firms.

It is noteworthy that no visa regime exists between our countries. Any Azerbaijani may arrive in Moldova at any time he/she wishes. So may the Moldovan tourist. Unfortunately, very high tariffs are still observed in the tourist sphere of Azerbaijan. The tariff policy impacts directly on mutual tourist exchanges. It is noteworthy that we face our own problems in Moldova. For instance, the conditions of roads leading to tourist facilities that would be of great interest to Azerbaijani tourists are not satisfactory. So, people who do not prefer traveling along bad roads abstain from visiting regions where sights are located. But still, we hope for perspective development of the bilateral tourism and will make all efforts in this direction.

 

FC: Which spheres are attractive for cooperation between our countries?

Igor Bodiu: There are several more attractive spheres for cooperation between our countries. We have a very similar agricultural production. Therefore, we attach priority to technological cooperation, exchange of specialists and research work in this sphere. Energy, mutual investments and telecommunication technologies are also attractive spheres for cooperation.

I know that 2013 has been announced the year of information technologies in Azerbaijan. The first Azerbaijani satellite has been recently launched. Our relevant ministries have established good contacts in this area. It was late in the past year the delegation headed by our Minister of Technologies and Information visited Azerbaijan and held a number of important meetings. We hope for achievement of new results in this sphere which is priority for bilateral cooperation. Attraction of investments is also an important sphere of bilateral cooperation. Unfortunately, Moldova may not talk big about it. The neighbor countries such as Romania and Ukraine have already started attracting investments from Azerbaijan which come through SOCAR and SOFAZ. Attraction of investments from Azerbaijan to Moldova has also been one of our priorities.

Social-cultural, humanitarian and scientific cooperation are interesting spheres for mutual contacts. In this regard, noteworthy is the cooperation of our ScienceAcademies and their subdivisions, exchange of information, interesting developments, cultural exchanges through creative associations, music collectives as well as cooperation in the field of youth and sports.

For instance, 10 legionaries from Moldova played for different soccer teams of Azerbaijan in the past years. There is also an exchange of sportsmen where great successes have been gained. The Moldovan prize winner (bronze medal) at London Olympiad Christina Yovu (weightlifter) has recently come to Azerbaijan and from now on she will represent this country.

We have very good contacts and prospects in bilateral relations that cover economy, policy and social-cultural sphere. Of course I wish these contacts developed more dynamically. So it is exactly what the embassy works for.

 

FC: What could you tell about gas consumption rate in Moldova?

Igor Bodiu: Unfortunately, Moldova is not an oil and gas producer. We are fully dependent on external supplies. Natural gas is flowing to Moldova from Russia and supplied by Gazprom OJSC. A joint Moldovan-Russian venture Moldovagaz operates in Moldova and purchases gas from producer whereupon it distributes within the country. Moldova also carries out an inconsiderable transit of Russian gas to certain countries especially to Balkan countries. The Republic of Moldova buys oil and oil products in neighbor countries such as Romania, Ukraine and RF.

To our regret, Moldova is not able to purchase oil products from Azerbaijan because of the distant geographical location. In future, we hope that Moldova will seek opportunities for getting linked to gas pipelines that are under construction now (Nabucco West or TAP). Besides, we also hope for Azerbaijan’s energy resources to appear in the Moldovan market in the foreseeable future. 

 

FC: What encouraged you to choose a diplomatic career? What are pluses and minuses of this work?

Igor Bodiu: I had worked a teacher at the State University of Moldova before my diplomatic career began. The salary paid to people engaged in this sphere was very low. Therefore, I took part in the contest that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced in 1992. As the result, selected were 15 people who were sent to diplomatic academy in Bucharest.

I studied at the faculty of international relations in Romanian capital from 1992 to 1994. It was a post-university education that enabled me to get a position at the Foreign Affairs Ministry Department for affairs with CIS states including Azerbaijan.

Afterwards, I worked at several embassies of Moldova in Minsk (1995-1998, First Secretary of the Embassy) and then in Moscow (2002-2005, adviser for political issues). I held different managerial positions in the office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Moldova during the period I worked outside embassies. 

I began as Second Secretary and the last position was the director of the department which was also engaged in bilateral cooperation with Azerbaijan.

 

FC: Where were you born and spent your childhood?

Igor Bodiu: I was born in Kishinev where I spent my childhood and youth. My mom is an aboriginal resident of Kishinev. My father was born in the rural area located in the north of Moldova. Therefore, I may proudly consider myself a resident belonging to the 4th generation whom one may meet very rarely because the majority of Moldova capital residents either come from rural area or are newcomers. There used to be a joke about the way the Baku residents considered themselves a “special nation”, so do Kishinev residents who refer themselves to a category of special residents or the “nation”. But it is certainly a joke.

 

FC: Which languages do you speak? What success have you gained in learning Azeri?

Igor Bodiu: I speak Romanian, Russian, English and French languages. Unfortunately, I don’t have much time for learning Azeri methodically. I know phrases that help for daily communication.

I admit that the ambassador should learn the language of the country he works in and it is one of his obligations. However, because of small size of our embassy and broad amount of obligations there is very little time left for studying the language. Apart from Azerbaijan, I represent my country in Georgia as well. The volume of daily work does not allow to plan or take language classes. My little daughter goes to an Azeri school. My wife also studied Azeri with a teacher and speaks it much better than I do.

 

FC: What is your impression about Baku and Azerbaijan?

Igor Bodiu: I am very impressed with Baku and Azerbaijan. I had got my first impression about Baku long before I came here. It was the time when I served in the Soviet army. I had friends who were from Baku spoke a lot about their beautiful city and home country. I also read a lot about Baku which used to be considered the second Odessa and was always impressed by the atmosphere observed in the capital of Azerbaijan. It is a music and multicultural city located on the shore of the sea. It is also a port city. To my regret I did not manage to visit Baku earlier. But when I came here, I witnessed mergence of cultures, very dynamic development as well as special care and concern shown to this city by President Ilham Aliyev who turned it into a beautiful city within several years.

Eurovision song contest attracted many foreigners to Baku last year. They all were very astonished by all that pleasant they saw here.

I like the attention and importance that are attached to historical places in Baku, for instance an Inner City. The old city of Baku is actively rehabilitated. The number of foreign delegations taken there is increasing. I am also impressed by the construction of the coastal boulevard, its improvement and the erection of the Flag square.

 

FC: Could you please tell about your family. How often do you spend time with a family?

Igor Bodiu: My family now is my wife and little daughter. My eldest daughter studied in the USA and now works a financial analyst for the well known company American express.

To my regret, ambassadors have very little time to spare for their family. I feel it and find it a short coming. This feeling arises especially in my little daughter who wishes to see her papa very often, spend time with him and play chess with him. Of course I wish I could spend more time with my family. Therefore, we try to go out for a walk in boulevard on weekends, to watch something, sit in the restaurant and taste delicious dishes of the Azerbaijani cuisine. The family is my support and backup. Therefore, in my opinion, a family is the main achievement in life of each man and the main purpose of life.

 

FC: What is it you are mostly afraid of in your life?

Igor Bodiu: It is a hard question. As far as fear is concerned, I am afraid for my health, safety of family. I am also anxious for my old parents, welfare of brothers, friends and my close family members. I am afraid of resuming of military actions in the conflict zone of my country. There is also a conflict observed within the territory of Moldova, just like in Azerbaijan. I am afraid of the uncertainty that my country may face in future as well as for the future of my children.

 

FC: Is there any unusual situation you have ever faced in your life?

Igor Bodiu: It happened to me when I was a student. We used to be engaged in autumn agricultural work. The local residents found out about a foreigner from Latin America who allegedly was in our group and invited him to the house of the man whose son studied with us. However, as there was no such foreigner, we disguised one of our dark skin friends as the Mexican and asked him to present himself as a foreigner. My job was to translate in this issue. We were received and treated as favorite guests throughout the whole evening. It was a real fun and we always remember it as an anecdote. We certainly felt awkward since people thought that the guy was a foreigner and were very hospitable to us whereas we deceived them in reality. However, we were young and funny guys who listened to the master’s son who asked us to play good. The family was very pleased to host foreigners in their house as others did not get such opportunity. Here is a little story about Moldovan hospitality.

 

FC: Which feature do you dislike in your character?

Igor Bodiu: It is a very difficult question ... I guess I am a southerner and a hot-temper person that I mostly dislike in me. It is a real minus for the diplomatic profession. Hot temper, straightforwardness, and the wish to quickly react on any certain situation do not combine with diplomacy. One should be more self-restrained, wiser and should not yield to any provocations or external input.

 

FC: Which features do you value in people?

Igor Bodiu: I mostly value decency in people. I don’t care about the nationality, skin color or about the way he thinks or does. If a person is decent, keeps his word, he will never be mean to you. Therefore, I mostly value decency in people. Though, I should note that there were people whom I stopped considering friends as they broke this decency “canon”.

 

FC: Which cuisine do you like and what are your favorite dishes?

Igor Bodiu: As it is said “tastes differ”. However, I do not agree with it. What is there left to argue about but tastes? I like eastern cuisine of different countries: especially the Japanese and Chinese. I have fallen in love with them since I tasted them first. It was early in 1990s when Chinese and Japanese restaurants began appearing in our capitals.

I really like the Moldovan cuisine which underlies a national mentality, attitude to the environment and to a guest.

I like the national cuisine of Azerbaijan too: different types of barbeque, kutabs, salads (especially Mangal, Choban, etc). The Azerbaijani cuisine is very similar with the Moldovan. Thus, the availability of delicious fruit, vegetables makes your cuisine very attractive.  The salad can be made out of the same vegetables. However, it will not be as delicious as the food cooked on mangal if it is made in other place or get the meat, bought from foreign market, fried. 

Therefore, I am a convinced cuisine traditionalist. Though, I may assess new dishes but still I give preference to a  traditional cuisine.

 

 

Thank you for the interview

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