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Saturday, Feb. 21, 2009

Envoy lauds role of ODA in Azerbaijan's development


Staff writer

Official development assistance may be on a long-term decline, but its effectiveness remains integral to Azerbaijan's development, the country's deputy foreign minister said Friday in Tokyo.

According to the Foreign Ministry, Japan ranked as the biggest donor to Azerbaijan in 2002, supplying approximately $141 million. However, aid plummeted to only $4.1 million in 2006, leaving Japan in fifth place overall.

But Araz Azimov, in Tokyo to attend a meeting between Japan and a regional organization of Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova, pointed out that Japan's agreement last week to assist Azerbaijan's construction of water supply facilities will benefit 700,000 people.

"Japan's ODA is still very effective for our country," Azimov told The Japan Times.

The diplomat pointed out that Japan is the only country that has assigned a special representative to negotiate with the regional organization, demonstrating Tokyo's willingness to build ties with the group.

Japan's positive attitude toward the Caucasus hasn't changed for years, despite the frequent change of prime ministers in Tokyo in recent times, he said.

Azimov expressed hope that Tokyo will assist and instruct the oil-exporting state in efficient energy use, as Azeri President Ilham Aliyev has proposed expanding the country's nonoil sector and developing the use of clean energy.

Azimov said that weather conditions in Azerbaijan are suitable for both solar and wind energy, and that Japan's involvement in laying the foundations would be "mutually beneficial."

Calling Azerbaijan a "naturally established corridor between Asia and Europe," Azimov said Japan's business sector has shown growing interest in investing in the region.

The inquiries about building railways in Azerbaijan made during a visit by Azimov to the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren) pleased the deputy foreign minister, who called it "the right direction and way of thinking."

"Japan is playing a role in the global economy and global politics which cannot be neglected," he said, expressing support for restructuring the U.N. Security Council and making Japan a permanent member.



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