By Elena Kosolapova
Azeri Observer Staff Writer
The French Embassy in Baku and friends of France from Azerbaijan and other countries celebrated Bastille Day in Baku on Thursday. The event was held offline for the first time in three years. In the two previous years, offline gatherings were banned due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Bastille Day is France’s premier national holiday. This date commemorates the taking of the Bastille prison by the Parisian people, on July 14, 1789, an event that marked the beginning of the Revolution and allowed the establishment of a Republic with the motto “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”.
Speaking at the event, French Ambassador to Azerbaijan Zacharie Gross noted that this year Azerbaijan and France celebrate the 30th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations.
“Azerbaijan-France relations are based on friendship and trust, and the countries are looking forward to the further improvement of these relations,” Gross said.
According to the Ambassador, over this period bilateral cooperation has developed in all areas, such as higher education, research, culture, archaeology, energy, transport, agriculture, and space, to take just a few examples. This cooperation was in line with a principle of mutual respect and in the interest of the two countries. French companies have invested heavily in Azerbaijan and wish to continue developing trade.
“France is extremely optimistic about the development of bilateral cooperation and continues to provide technical support to Azerbaijan in the landmine clearance. France keeps transferring mine detection equipment to the Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA),” Ambassador Gross said, adding that the de-mining process is quite important for the return of former internally displaced persons to their lands.
Earlier, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev sent a congratulatory letter to his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on the occasion of the country’s national holiday. In the letter, he noted that this year marks a significant anniversary in the history of Azerbaijan-France interstate relations.
“In the current year, when we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries, we review our achievements during the past period and explore the possibilities for a further expansion of effective cooperation we have developed in the fields of economy, energy, culture, education, etc. I believe there are prospects for the development of our mutually beneficial cooperation in various directions,” President Aliyev wrote.
He noted that having ended the 30-year occupation of its lands, Azerbaijan wants to turn the page of the war, normalize relations with Armenia and sign a peace treaty.
“We believe that France can make a valuable contribution to the process of preparing a peace treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan based on the five principles we have presented in accordance with international law,” the President said. “We appreciate France’s contribution to the process of demining of our territories, and hope that your country will provide necessary support in clarifying the fate of nearly 4,000 of our compatriots who went missing during the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan also congratulated France on the occasion of the National Day.
“On the occasion of the National Day of the French Republic, we express our best wishes & sincere congratulations to the Government and People of France,” the ministry wrote on Twitter.