Our Analytics 14 january — 15:00

Ilham Aliyev leases Ukrainian lands for Azerbaijan

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BY ELNUR MAMMADOV, AZERI DAILY COLUMNIST

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev is on a working visit to Kyiv, where he meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

According to the press-service of the head of Ukraine, the meeting is taking place at the Mariinsky Palace in the Ukrainian capital. It is planned that then the presidents will come out with statements to the media.

What prompted the heads of the two states to hold a meeting in such a difficult time for the entire post-Soviet space, which in the protocols was reservedly called a working visit?

It should be noted that during his visit to Brussels in the middle of last month, where the Eastern Partnership summit of the European Union was held, Zelenskyy specially met and talked about something with Aliyev. In conclusion, he invited the head of Azerbaijan to visit Kyiv, which in itself speaks of the effectiveness of the conversation. This is confirmed by the prompt response of I. Aliyev's to the invitation, which undoubtedly testifies to the importance of the upcoming negotiations and considerable expectations from their results of the leaders of the two countries.

In Brussels, Zelenskyy invited Aliyev to Kyiv... Aliyev immediately responded

Azerbaijan has always maintained friendly relations with all the countries of the former USSR, with the exception, for obvious reasons, of Armenia. And Ukraine occupies a special place among them, although the two countries do not have common borders. Many examples of developing economic and close humanitarian ties can be cited. Suffice it to say that a large diaspora of Azerbaijanis lives and works in this country, who make a significant contribution to the development of the host country, which was repeatedly reported by the media of both countries.

In addition, almost 5,000 Azerbaijani students receive higher education in Ukraine. And the current visit of Ilham Aliyev to Kyiv will undoubtedly give a new impetus to the positive advancement of relations between Baku and Kyiv, especially in the economic plane.

The main goal of today's meeting of the two presidents is, of course, the further development of trade and economic ties between the countries. This is evidenced by the list of documents to be signed by the heads of state. And these documents of an economic nature cover, first of all, the spheres of energy and agriculture, that is, the traditional areas in which bilateral cooperation between the countries is quite intensive.

But what attracts attention in this list is the document providing for the transfer of land by Ukraine on lease to Azerbaijan. One remembers that the day before yesterday, in an interview with Azerbaijani television channels, President Aliyev casually noticed this, without specifying, however, exactly where these farmlands are located. Nevertheless, he, in particular, noted that in order to ensure the country's food security, it is planned to rent land in other countries, mainly for sowing wheat and delivering manufactured products to the country.

Aliyev takes Ukrainian arable land

But at that time, no one probably imagined that this idea would begin to be implemented so quickly and on a large scale. Although everything is logical: it is Ukraine that has huge fertile areas for growing highly productive wheat, which are open for rent by foreign countries. Azerbaijan decided to take advantage of this, which provides itself with only 60% of food wheat.

As for the energy sector, it is enough to note the work of the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) in this country. SOCAR filling stations are already a well-known brand in Ukraine. Moreover, there are many mutually beneficial opportunities for the further development of bilateral cooperation in the energy sector.

In general, Ukraine is an extremely profitable market for Azerbaijani agricultural and petrochemical products. This is an important alternative market for Azerbaijan's exports. Ukraine itself traditionally specialises in the production of metal structures, metal-based building materials, paper, cardboard, medicines, etc. It is these products that it exports to Azerbaijan.

So, the visit of the President of Azerbaijan I. Aliyev to Ukraine, his negotiations with the head of the country V. Zelenskyy, apparently, will be very fruitful for the two states.

This is evidenced by the already established economic ties: in general, Ukraine ranks 6th in foreign trade with Azerbaijan, and 12th in exports. According to the results of 11 months of last year, the trade turnover between the two countries amounted to $866 million. At the same time, the volume of exports reached 446 million dollars. And in 2020, the total trade turnover amounted to $771 million, of which $418 million accounted for exports, and $353 million for imports. To date, 155 agreements have been signed between the countries.

Here one could, perhaps, stop, if not for one circumstance. During the aforementioned Brussels meeting of the presidents, Volodymyr Zelenskyy proposed holding a summit in Kyiv in February 2022 with the participation of the leaders of Azerbaijan and Turkey, dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Ukraine and Azerbaijan and Turkey. However, the topic of both the upcoming and the current meeting is much broader -- it is, in addition to other economic issues, the transport and logistics potential of cooperation between countries, in particular, the need to intensify measures for the implementation of the transit of goods along the Europe-Caucasus-Asia route using rail and sea transport. So the visit of Ilham Aliyev to Kyiv can be considered a new stage in the development of bilateral relations with Ukraine and the transfer of these ties to regional and even international tracks.

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