By Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik with VC Joy Cho, Editor Kevin Lee, Feature Editor Joseph Sung
The Republic of Korea now has a new ambassador from the Republic of Azerbaijan who was accredited to Korea in August 2022. The new ambassador is H.E. Ramin Hasanov. The Korea Post interviewed Ambassador Hasanov at the Embassy of Azerbaijan in Seoul on March 3, 2023, and learned the following details:
Prior to this appointment, Ambassador Hasanov has served as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the Federal Republic of Germany.
Overall, the interlocutor possesses almost 24 years of professional work experience and has started his diplomatic career at the system of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan.
Ambassador Hasanov held various senior-level positions both at the Ministry and various diplomatic missions of Azerbaijan abroad. As regard to his academic background, he holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in international law and international relations, both earned at the Baku State University.
Details of the interview follow:
Question: How would you summarize the overall outcomes of 2022 for Azerbaijan?
Answer: The year of 2022 was very successful for Azerbaijan. Our government has continued to successfully implement “Azerbaijan 2030: National Priorities for Socio-Economic Development” and “Socioeconomic Development Strategy of the Republic of Azerbaijan for 2022-2026”, to ensure country’s smooth transition to more diversified, competitive, innovative, sustainable, resilient, as well as technology, intellectual property and knowledge-based economy.
Despite the global economic crisis, the last year, Azerbaijani economy grew by about 5%, with the non-oil sector growth recorded at more than 9%. This is a historic achievement for our country in the post-COVID-19 period.
In 2022, Azerbaijan hosted numerous prestigious international events. For instance, on 30 June – 1 July 2022, as the chair country, the Republic of Azerbaijan hosted the Baku Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Parliamentary Network, established upon the initiative of Azerbaijan. Another important event was the 8th Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting of the Southern Gas Corridor held in Baku on 4 February 2022 in Baku. Azerbaijan also hosted several international events promoting tolerance, intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding, including 9th Global Baku Forum which was organized by Nizami Ganjavi International Center and convened on 16-18 June 2022 in Baku.
The year of 2022 was declared as the Year of Shusha in Azerbaijan. In this context, wide-ranging celebrations were held both in Azerbaijan and abroad, including in Korea, to mark the 270th Anniversary of Shusha.
On 18 July 2022, the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on strategic partnership in the field of energy was signed between Azerbaijan and the European Union. This MoU envisages doubling the capacity of the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) by 2027 and substantially increasing Azerbaijan’s natural gas exports to European markets.
On 17 December 2022, Azerbaijan with its European partners launched yet another new megaproject in the field of green energy. Black Sea Submarine Power Cable project will allow Azerbaijan to play a more significant role in ensuring European energy security. This project opens opportunities for Azerbaijan to export extra volumes of electricity generated from projected offshore wind farms to the European markets.
On the political level, Azerbaijan continued the cooperation with the countries of the region and beyond, as well as provided humanitarian, financial and COVID-19-related aid to the foreign countries in need, as an obvious example of the international solidarity.
Q: What is the situation between Azerbaijan and Armenia?
A: Last November, the Azerbaijani people proudly celebrated the 2nd anniversary of the liberation of Azerbaijani territories from Armenian occupation. Two years ago, we put an end to the 30-year occupation of Azerbaijani lands, restored historical justice and international law. By doing that, Azerbaijan also implemented itself the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council.
The Trilateral Statement signed on 10 November 2020 between Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia has put an end to the conflict and set agreed parameters for establishing durable peace in the region. Now that the war is over and the conflict has been resolved, the priorities of Azerbaijan at the current post-conflict stage have been stated unambiguously, including at the highest political level. These are the soonest and effective post-conflict rehabilitation, reconstruction and reintegration and normalization of inter-State relations.
Furthermore, to discuss among others the peace treaty, the leaders and ministers of foreign affairs of Azerbaijan and Armenia had several meetings in various formats, including with the mediations of the USA, Russia and the European Council.
Although two years have passed since the end of the Patriotic War, Armenia continues to commit military provocations on the state border. In the latest one, in September 2022, the Azerbaijani Armed Forces had to launch a resolute counter-offensive operation to repel yet another military provocation by Armenia.
Despite the war crimes, urbicide, culturicide and ecocide acts carried out by Armenia for almost 30 years, Azerbaijan is still committed to the peace talks and presented its relevant proposals to Armenian side. Currently, there are all the pre-requisites to sign a peace treaty with Armenia, which is possible based on the well-known principles proposed by Azerbaijan. However, Armenia still makes contradictory statements, demonstrates non-constructive position and deliberately hinders the peace process.
Q: What measures are being taken by the Government to develop the liberated territories?
A: As I mentioned above, in 2020, after 30 years of occupation of its internationally-recognized territories, Azerbaijan managed to restore its territorial integrity. During the occupation period, the aggressors destroyed and looted everything that existed on and under those lands, from residential buildings to infrastructure, schools to hospitals, cultural monuments to religious sites, flora and fauna to mineral resources and precious metals.
Although the 30-year occupation is over, its severe consequences still exist. 9 cities and hundreds of villages of Azerbaijan have been wiped off the face of the earth by Armenia. Aghdam, once a large and prosperous city, has been destroyed to an extent that foreign experts call it the Hiroshima of the Caucasus. The Government of Azerbaijan has already initiated practical steps aiming at eliminating the consequences of the decades-old occupation of the territories of Azerbaijan by Armenia accompanied by massive destruction.
Azerbaijan is strongly interested in economic development of the liberated territories and, in this regard, Azerbaijan has launched the large-scale restoration and reconstruction projects in those territories.
These projects are based on the advanced technologies and are implemented through smart city and smart village concepts. First and foremost, the extensive construction activities have been implementing in Shusha city, cultural capital of Azerbaijan. In parallel, we have been building hospitals, schools and residential buildings in Aghdam, Fuzuli, Zangilan and Lachin.
The Azerbaijani Government has identified the transformation of the country’s Karabakh region into a green energy zone as a priority within the ongoing reconstruction and development projects in the liberated territories. The goal of the Azerbaijani government is to transform the region fully into a green energy zone by 2050, as well as reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 40%.
Priority sectors to be developed in the liberated territories include extractive industries, industry, tourism, transportation and logistics service, agriculture, including traditional viticulture and wine production.
According to the Decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan related to the acceleration of economic and social welfare in the liberated territories, the following mechanisms are envisaged for entrepreneurs: tax benefits, social insurance and other incentives for entrepreneurs engaged in processing industry and service infrastructure; concessions on utility services (electricity, natural gas and water consumption) for entrepreneurs engaged in production activities; customs benefits for entrepreneurs engaged in production activities related to the import of raw materials; determination of labor migration quotas and procedure improvement for work permits supporting investors who apply environmentally friendly technologies; create green growth and use renewable energy sources; expansion of access to financial resources for entrepreneurs operating in the liberated territories; additional support of investors who apply clean technologies, create green growth and use renewable energy sources.
On 16 November 2022, the President of Azerbaijan signed a Decree approving the First State Program on the Great Return to the liberated territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan. In 2022, the first IDPs returned to their ancestral land in Aghali smart village of Zangilan district of Azerbaijan, decades after being forcibly-expelled by the Armenian armed forces in the early 1990s. This was a historic accomplishment for Azerbaijan, because in less than two years after our glorious victory in the 44-day Patriotic War, Azerbaijan has ensured the return of the IDPs to their native land and established decent living conditions for them. The large-scale works have been continuing to realize the Zangazur Corridor, by constructing the transport infrastructure. Through this Corridor, we will have a communication line with Nakhchivan.
In October 2022, Azerbaijan commissioned an international airport in Zangilan, the second airport (the first one was opened in Fuzuli) it has constructed in Karabakh. This airport is envisaged to act as a hub in Azerbaijan’s Zangazur Corridor project.
The anti-personnel mines planted by Armenia for almost 30 years continue to embrace a huge obstacle to ensure the safe return of the IDPs to the liberated territories. Armenia deliberately has not provided us with the entirely accurate minefield maps. As a result, almost 300 Azerbaijanis were killed or seriously injured in the post-war period. In this regard, throughout 2022, demining of the liberated territories has been underway to expedite the secure return of the IDPs to their homeland.
Q: What are the important events in Azerbaijan for 2023?
A: The President of the Republic of Azerbaijan has declared 2023 as a “Year of Heydar Aliyev” in Azerbaijan. 10 May 2023 will mark the 100th Anniversary of the birth of Heydar Aliyev, the national leader of the Azerbaijani people and an outstanding politician and statesman. In this regard, numerous events will be organized both in Azerbaijan and foreign countries.
Azerbaijan is the enabler of the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) which substantially contributes to European energy security. The 9th SGC Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting and 1st Green Energy Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting were held on 3 February 2023 in Baku.
As the current chair country of NAM, on 2 March 2023, Azerbaijan hosted NAM meeting in the format of Summit of Contact Group on fighting against COVID-19.
10th Global Baku Forum is planned to be organized, under the theme “The World of Today: Challenges and Hopes”, on 9 March 2023 in Baku to discuss the pressing issues.
Azerbaijan also emerges as the venue for hosting major international sporting events. In this respect, Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix 2023 will be organized in Baku on 27-30 April 2023.
Azerbaijan’s image on the global arena has been further strengthening by hosting the international events and, in this context, 74th International Astronautical Congress will be convened on 2-6 October 2023 in Baku.
Moreover, taking into account that Shusha city was declared "Culture Capital of the Turkic World" for 2023, a number of events will be held both in Azerbaijan and abroad.
Azerbaijan assumed the Economic Cooperation Organization Chairmanship as of 1 January 2023, and the chair, number of high-level events are envisaged to be held in the country.
Furthermore, a lot of international exhibitions will be held in Azerbaijan throughout 2023 such as International Caspian Oil & Gas Exhibition, Azerbaijan International Travel and Tourism Fair, Trans Logistica, Caspian Agro, BakuTel and others.
Q: What are the most prioritized fields in your country at the moment?
A: The economic diversification and development of non-oil sectors are top priorities. In this respect, the key non-oil sectors include agriculture, tourism, information-communication technologies, renewables, light industry, chemical industry, food processing, transport and logistics.
As in the past years, this year’s priorities also include the promotion of Alat Free Economic Zones, Baku International Sea Trade Port, country’s industrial and agricultural parks, as well as “Made in Azerbaijan” brand and “Invest in Azerbaijan” concept.
Besides, the implementation of the “State Program of socio-economic development of the regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan in 2019-2023", “The State Program for youth to study in prestigious higher education institutions of foreign countries for 2022-2026" and "The State Program on increasing the international competitiveness of the higher education system in the Republic of Azerbaijan for 2019-2023" would be crucial priorities as well.
Moreover, further improving the social welfare of the population, ensuring decent jobs especially for the vulnerable groups, provision of social-psychological support and rehabilitation programs to the war veterans, conducting the social and healthcare reforms and amelioration of medical services are also the priority areas.
Q: In what fields are Korea and your country cooperating together?
A: There are good political relations between the two countries and the bilateral political dialogue has further strengthened through the mutual visits at the highest levels. Furthermore, the political consultations mechanism exists between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs. The latest political consultations were held in July 2022 in Seoul.
Both countries are enjoying also dynamic economic-trade relations. Azerbaijan is the largest and most significant economic-trade partner of Korea in the South Caucasus. In 2022, compared to 2021, the bilateral trade turnover increased by 18.23%. During the same period, Azerbaijan’s exports to Korea expanded 3.52 times and imports from Korea grew by 18.14%. Korea is one of the biggest foreign direct investors to Azerbaijan’s non-oil sector.
The mutual high-level visits, various trade promotion platforms and mechanisms, as well as diverse economic events contribute to boosting bilateral economic-trade cooperation. Azerbaijan continues its efforts to diversify the economy, develop non-oil sector, advance economic clusters and improve export structure, as well as promote Alat Free Economic Zone, “Made in Azerbaijan” brand and “Invest in Azerbaijan” concept. In this context, to achieve the country’s strategic goals and targets, Azerbaijan considers Korea as a reliable partner.
The interest of Korean companies to Azerbaijani economy and products is continuously increasing. 77 Korean companies are currently operating in Azerbaijan in the fields of trade, industry, construction and services.
The Joint Commission on Economic Cooperation between the Government of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Government of the Republic of Korea has been established in 2015 to promote bilateral economic, trade and investment cooperation, as well as to foster “G2G” and “B2B” contacts. The next meeting of the Joint Commission is envisaged to be held in upcoming months.
Other important areas of bilateral cooperation are education, science and human capital development. Since launching of its operations in Azerbaijan, KOICA has implemented several grant agreements covering various economic sectors. Numerous Azerbaijani officials and government collaborators have participated in KOICA’s and KDI’s capacity building trainings aimed at exploring Korea's leading experience and best practices. Moreover, almost 200 Azerbaijani students currently study at various universities of Korea thanks to the diverse scholarships. The dual degree programs exist between the universities of the two countries.
Q: Which area would you like to see more cooperation between the two countries?
A: The end of the long-lasted conflict between the Armenia and Azerbaijan and liberation of long-time occupied territories of Azerbaijan opened new opportunities for sustainable development in the region. Therefore, we invite Korean investors to examine investment opportunities in the liberated territories of Azerbaijan and beyond. The participation of Korean investors in the development of Karabakh and Eastern Zangazur as a "green energy zones" can be mutually-beneficial cooperation track.
The Trans-Caspian East-West Middle Corridor is emerging as a viable and safe alternative for traditional routes connecting Turkey to Central Asia and China via the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea. We invite Korean transit operators and logistics companies to benefit from the economic advantages provided by Middle Corridor.
Azerbaijan is also investing in expansion of the Alat Free Economic Zone (AFEZ). AFEZ with its multiple advantages for the investors, including VAT, customs duties and taxes exemptions, and waivers from export-import operations is a unique opportunity for Korean companies and investors willing to engage with our region. Its central location and proximity to large production and export centers and hubs, including the Baku International Sea Trade Port, is another advantage.
Located at the crossroads of the international transportation corridors, Baku International Sea Trade Port acts as the crucial intermodal and multimodal distribution hub. Enhancing the cooperation between Baku International Sea Trade Port and Korean sea ports will enlarge the bilateral relations, particularly in the field of logistics. We also call on the Korean investors to explore the opportunities at the Baku International Sea Trade Port’s Fertilizer and Grain Terminals.
Industrial, agro and techno-parks established in Azerbaijan, being most appropriate sites for the investment in the region, offer multitude of favorable business conditions. In this respect, we invite Korean businesses to benefit from the commercial opportunities offered at Azerbaijani clusters.
Being part of the Digital Silk Road mega project, Trans-Caspian Fiber-Optic subsea data transmission cable project will formulate digital telecommunication corridor between Europe and Asia. Azerbaijan Digital Hub, as a part of Digital Silk Road, can be a promising engagement opportunity for the Korean investors. Azerbaijan and Korean can further enhance partnership in the field of education and research, including in the fields of student exchange, faculty and scientific staff between higher education institutions, explore the possibility of implementing more dual degree programs, establish cooperation between the institutions, develop and implement joint research projects, organize joint scientific events.
Q: How is the business and investment environment in Azerbaijan?
A: Investment inflows are one of the vital sources for promoting Azerbaijan`s sustainable and inclusive development. A favorable business and investment environment have been established in Azerbaijan, and significant measures have been recently realized to further improve the business climate to attract foreign investments. Moreover, the country possesses a liberal foreign trade regime.
According to “The Law on Investment Activity”, dated 22 June 2022, the state guarantees the protection of the rights and freedoms of investors, and prohibits unreasonable and discriminatory treatment, intimidation, harassment and violence against investors and their investments.
In order to promote foreign investments to the non-oil sector, Azerbaijan provides investment promotion documents to legal entities and individual entrepreneurs. The Investment Promotion Document is issued by the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Azerbaijan for investment projects.
Overall, the following measures are implemented to stimulate investment activity: various tax related benefits and other government payments; expansion of the mechanism of public-private partnership; provision of loans on preferential terms and etc.
Furthermore, to make tax-related processes simpler, Azerbaijan introduced an online system (www.e-taxes.gov.az) for registration of taxpayers, correspondence with the tax office, submission of related documents and declarations.
Moreover, numerous tax and customs advantages are provided for the residents of the country’s industrial and high-tech parks. Analogous preferential treatment is also offered at Alat Free Economic Zone.
Q: We understand that Azerbaijan is rich in tourist resources. What are the reasons to travel to Azerbaijan?
A: In post-COVID-19 period, an active recovery process in all main source markets started. Azerbaijan received almost 1.6 million arrivals in 2022, which was twice more than in 2021.
The country is blessed with an enormous tourism potential to influx the international tourists and has developed necessary infrastructure to ensure the sustainability of this vibrant industry. Open Doors policy played a crucial role in further advancement of the tourism sector. Azerbaijan’s multiculturalism values and tolerance traditions also act as catalyst in attracting foreign tourists.
Located at the crossroads of cultures and civilizations, Azerbaijan is endowed with a multitude of tourism features thanks to the vital advantages, such as rich historical, natural, religious and cultural diversity, as well as delicious cuisine. In this regard, Korean tourists are welcome to visit Azerbaijan. We hope that direct flights between Azerbaijan and Korea will be established in the near future.
Azerbaijan is rich with a wide range of historic and ancient archaeological and architectural monuments. The Walled City of Baku with the Shirvanshah’s Palace and Maiden Tower, Historic Centre of Sheki with the Khan’s Palace and Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape have been included in the UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
The eternal flame sources in Ateshgah and Yanardag State Historical, Cultural and Natural Reserve present the history of natural energy in Azerbaijan. The sandy Caspian beaches around Baku offer a marvelous momentum for beach tourism. Azerbaijan’s rich nature, fauna and flora, national parks and biodiversity open tremendous opportunities for eco-tourism. Country’s vast agricultural potential enables the development of agri-tourism in Azerbaijan. The Shahdag Mountain Complex is Azerbaijan's epic ski resort. Azerbaijan is also home to several world-class health spas and balneological resorts that offer high-quality care, as well as various alternative medical treatments.
Personal details of Ambassador Hasanov:
Name in full: Ramin Hasanov (Mr.)
Date of birth: 7 November 1977
Baku State University;Bachelor’s degree, Faculty of International Law and International Relations
Baku State University; Master’s degree, Faculty of International Law and International Relations
German Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International course for foreign diplomats
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Department of Europe, America and Canada; Referent, Attaché
Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the Federal Republic of Germany; Attaché, Third Secretary
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, First Western Territorial Department; Third Secretary, Second Secretary
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, International Law and Treaties Department; Second Secretary
Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the Swiss Confederation; Second Secretary, First Secretary, Counsellor
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, International Law and Treaties Department; Head of Division
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, International Law and Treaties Department; Deputy Director
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, International Law and Treaties Department; Director
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the Federal Republic of Germany
since 19 August 2022
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the Republic of Korea
Awards and conferrals:
The Medal for the "Distinction in Diplomatic Service" for the effective performance in the diplomatic service bodies of the Republic of Azerbaijan awarded by the Decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan dated July 7, 2012, as well as the Jubilee Medals of the Republic of Azerbaijan for the "90th Anniversary of the Diplomatic Service Bodies of the Republic of Azerbaijan" and "100th Anniversary of the Diplomatic Service Bodies of the Republic of Azerbaijan”.
Diplomatic rank of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary was conferred upon by the Decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan dated July 9, 2019.
English, German, Russian, Turkish
Married, has 2 children