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Monday, 30 December 2013 13:04

We would like to draw more Azerbaijan investments in Lithuania - Artūras Žurauskas, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Lithuania to the Republic of Azerbaijan Featured

We would like to draw more Azerbaijan investments in Lithuania - Artūras Žurauskas, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Lithuania to the Republic of Azerbaijan

Caspian Energy Investor (CEI): Mr. Ambassador, how would you evaluate the current level of relations between our countries?

 

Artūras Žurauskas, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Lithuania to the Republic of Azerbaijan: The main distinctive feature of the relations between Lithuania and Azerbaijan is certainly economy against the background of active cooperation on the political and diplomatic levels. If to estimate our relations on the political level or give a general evaluation to the Azerbaijan-Lithuania relations, I would say that the situation is very good, since we have a solid legal framework, about 20 intergovernmental and interdepartmental agreements, high negotiations activity both on the highest level and also between ministries and agencies of the two countries. Also the bilateral intergovernmental commission is successfully working, so I am pleased to ascertain the good level of relations between our countries.

Lithuania’s presidency in the EU is starting on July 1, 2013. This is a great challenge for the country and her diplomatic service. And one of the focuses of our presidency is Azerbaijan as a country to the Eastern Partnership program. Vilnius will be hosting a Summit of the EU and the Eastern Partnership countries. During this summit the position of your country will be very important. So, in this context we will continue strengthening our relations both in the political and economic fields. At the same time I have the great honour to be appointed Ambassador of the Republic of Lithuania in the Republic of Azerbaijan.

We also have a good potential for cooperation in the field of economy and business.

At the same time I would like to emphasize our involvement in exchange of experience, I mean involvement in the so-called twinning projects implemented by the European Union. We are actively involved in such projects and participate in them very successfully.

We have already been awarded about 5 twinning projects, among them is the project of the Lithuanian radiation safety centre in Azerbaijan engaged in development and improvement of infrastructure, its radiation safety and plus the project in the field of tourism. Recently we together with Austria have also won the twinning-project in the field of tourism. Our countries have much in common in respect of the tourism potential as well as favourable natural and climatic environment.

 

CEI: You said that the two countries have a solid background for cooperation in the field of business. Could you, please, tell how successfully the operation of Lithuanian companies is proceeding in Azerbaijan?

Artūras Žurauskas: There are, of course, some solved bureaucratic obstacles but if to involve solid partners, our companies successfully find niches in the market of Azerbaijan. The full potential, of course, is not used but we have a lot of possibilities for development of cooperation and in the field of energy, transport, information technologies, construction, agriculture, tourism, ecology. On the other hand, we would like to involve more Azerbaijan investments into Lithuania because it is very profitable now to invest in Lithuania. We and the entire Europe alike are in the deep economic crisis, but we have toughened the credit policy, minimized expenses and passed a very painful but effective way towards stabilization of the financial and economic situation. At the moment we have good GDP growth rates the second year running and this allows us facing the future with optimism. The matter is that the basis of our economy is export to the EU countries and consequently we depend on the situation in the entire EU market. But, as I already said, we have lived through the critical point.

 

CEI: Which sectors of economy are the closest for development of integration links and expansion of the trade turnover?

Artūras Žurauskas: The energy sector is attractive to our enterprises both in the regional and bilateral cooperation. Today it is a prospect of gas supply as soon as we have interconnectors with the Central European network of gas pipelines and this is the first option. The second option is oil supply through the port of Ilyichevsk, and perhaps after the averse operation mode of the Odessa-Brody-Gdansk oil pipeline. The most near-term option for us is a construction of a regasification terminal in two years that will allow receiving LNG from Azerbaijan.

We give a lot of attention to the logistics sector, transport projects, development of infrastructure of ports and construction of roads. There is also a possibility to join the transport corridors going via Azerbaijan to Western Europe. Also we plan to become high technologies (IT) providers and the center in the Baltic and Scandinavian regions on generation of innovations and high technologies in the IT sector. Participating in the IT exhibition due in early November will be 10 Lithuanian companies and also the Minister of Transport and Information Technologies of Lithuania.

Very good prospects are in the tourism sector. We build hotels, Spa centers and even skiing resorts, beach complexes working all the year round. The tourism boon has overwhelmed us, since the second year running we receive as many tourists as the total amount of inhabitants living in Lithuania. So, we have very good prospects of cooperation.

 

CEI: Will Lithuania join the future Nabucco system?

Artūras Žurauskas: As the EU member state, Lithuania supports all diversification projects of the European Commission aimed at expansion of gas supply sources to the EU.

 

CEI: Mr. Ambassador, could you, please, tell about yourself?

Artūras Žurauskas: I am a lawyer by training. I have been working on the diplomatic service since 1993. I worked in the ministry on different positions, in the consular service. I also headed consular, law and international treaties departments. Too, I worked as Ambassador of Lithuania in China and in Greece and simultaneously worked in such countries as South Korea, Vietnam, Mongolia, Albania, Cyprus, and Bulgaria. So, I already have certain experience which, of course, is useful to me in such important country as Azerbaijan.

I am married and have a 27-year old daughter. She is working in London for CNN company. She has not followed on my footsteps and is now engaged in the PR business.

 

CEI: Which common features do you find when compare Azerbaijan and Lithuania?

Artūras Žurauskas: In principle, we differ fundamentally as we are from the northern country, while you are the southerners. In Azerbaijan people often smile, while we are colder. But it seems to me that both of us need more optimism.

I am struck with the creative mood reigning on your roads. I visited many countries, in China, for example, there are suicides on roads. On your suicides are mainly pedestrians.

 

CEI: The cuisines of which countries do you prefer? Could you, please, tell what your favorite meals are?

Artūras Žurauskas: If to speak about cuisine, here, of course, there is a danger to put on weight. Therefore, I like to go in for sports, tennis and swimming. So in Azerbaijan I will try national meals, but also actively go in for sports. And since I was in Asia and worked there 5 years, I like such cuisines as Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and Vietnamese very much. The cuisine is also the opportunity to know other cultures. So, this part of the cultural life of people is very important too.

 

CEI: Which feature of your character you dislike most of all?

Artūras Žurauskas: On the one hand accuracy is a good feature, while on the other it strains people around. The sense of humour, the wife loves me very much for it, at least she has told so.

 

Thank you fir the interview

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