Western politicians: Azerbaijan is key player in South Caucasus
The US and the European Union countries, in particular Austria, Germany and France, are interested in developing and strengthening relations with Azerbaijan as a key country in the South Caucasus, the former Austrian Federal Chancellor, Wolfgang Schüssel, the former Prime Minister of France, Dominique de Villepin, the former German Ambassador to Russia, Hans-Friedrich von Ploetz, and the Chair of the Department of Government at Harvard University, Timothy Colton, told Vestnik Kavkaza on the sidelines of the official opening of the annual ‘Valdai’ meeting in Sochi.
Wolfgang Schüssel stressed that Azerbaijan is a key player in the region. "I think that the relations between Austria and Azerbaijan are quite good. We have strong economic ties, Azerbaijan is the most important economic partner in the Caucasus for us and Europe due to its rapidly developing economy," the Austrian politician said.
At the same time, it is also important that Baku is actively working to stabilize the situation in the region. "The Caucasus region is very important both for the EU as a whole, and for Austria in particular. I believe that the region will prosper in the future," the former Austrian Chancellor noted.
The former Prime Minister of France, Dominique de Villepin, said that the cooperation between Baku and Paris is developing both economically and politically and the governments always find the opportunity to reach agreement, even on controversial issues.
"The relations between Azerbaijan and France have a long history, the heads of state have long known each other, and each of them is interested in developing economic and political relations, as well as in maintaining stability in the region. I know that President Ilham Aliyev and the Azerbaijani leadership are familiar with France and often visit our country," he added.
The former German Ambassador to Russia, Hans-Friedrich von Ploetz, said that he paid several visits to Azerbaijan and noted that his country maintains active economic ties with all countries of the region.
"We have good relations with all the countries of the Southern Caucasus. Our business is represented in the countries of Central Asia, the Caspian Sea states and the Black Sea countries," the diplomat noted.
The Chair of the Department of Government at Harvard University, Timothy Colton, said that the relations between the US and Azerbaijan have a long history and were established in the 1990s. "Azerbaijan is largely seen as an energy supplier," he noted.
Colton also said that Azerbaijan is a very economically developed country, especially if compared with Armenia. "The economic disparity between the two countries is becoming more and more obvious. Azerbaijan is the wealthier state, and its population is three times bigger than that of Armenia," the analyst noted.