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Still Untapped Potential to Grow Azeri-Egyptian Ties

Mrs. Suzanne Mohamed Gamil

Ambassador of Egypt to Azerbaijan

Question: Mrs. Ambassador, how do you assess the diplomatic and political relations between Egypt and Azerbaijan?

Answer: We should mention that the relations between our two countries are based on a rich history. We have a deep friendship with Azerbaijan. In fact, Egypt is one of the first countries that recognized Azerbaijan’s Independence in December 1991, and diplomatic relations were established between the two countries in March 1992. We support each other in the UN and in all other international organizations and closely cooperate in the international arena. We have good bilateral economic relations which should be broadened. In addition to that, I have to note that there are many similarities between our cultures.

Q.: What sort of goals do you hope to accomplish during your mission in Azerbaijan?

A.: First of all, we need to improve the relations between the two countries in all spheres, especially in economics and commerce. Moreover, we should work on increasing the awareness of the public and of ordinary citizens in Azerbaijan about Egypt, its current situation, and the progress we have achieved. We also have a goal of improving relations in the fields of culture and tourism.

Q.: In what fields do you see potential for the development of relations between our two countries?

A.: We have a lot of potential for development, and as examples we can consider economic and investment relations, especially in oil and gas; military cooperation; and tourism.

Q.: How do you assess the state of tourism between Egypt and Azerbaijan?  In your opinion, what can be done to increase tourism between the two countries?

A.: I should mention the last visit of the Egyptian delegation which was held in Baku in May 2016. During that visit we organized a press conference attended by almost 20 Egyptian tourism companies, where several new packages with good prices to visit places in Egypt such as Sharm El-Sheikh, Hurghada, Upper Egypt, Luxor and Aswan were offered. The Egyptian delegation announced that Cairo would open direct flights from Baku to Sharm el-Sheikh. That was a good opportunity for both sides, but unfortunately, the flight stopped 2 months after the launch, and we still don’t have a fixed date for the reopening. We’ll continue doing our job by encouraging tourism relations between the two countries using all tools and means.

Q.: Compared to other Arab countries, women in Egypt have been actively involved in the social and political life of the country. One could say that Egyptian women are more emancipated than women in other Arab countries. How can that be explained?

A.: If you go back in the history of Egypt, you’ll find out that women’s roles and the women’s movement was always obvious in Egyptian social and political life. Some time ago, women started to be educated through the highest level of education, and in the middle of the 20th century we had the first female pilot. Now we have reached the level where we have women serving as government ministers and are actively participating in the government, currently the Ministers of Investment, Minister of Social Security, Minister of International Cooperation, and the Minister of Labour and Immigration are all women. We have also many female ambassadors in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and judges as well. Egypt has even nominated one of our best female officials, an ex-ambassador and minister, Dr. Moushira Khattab, to be the Director of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, because of her efficiency and her capacity to lead this important organization. Egyptian women are still fighting to have the same rights as men because they make up half of Egyptian community.

Q: You’ve recently been appointed Ambassador of Egypt in Baku. How easy or difficult has it been for you to adjust to the way of life in Azerbaijan?  Do you see any similarities between Egyptians and Azerbaijanis? Have you had the time to go around Baku, visit places of interest? Do you have a favorite place in the city?

A.: Since I came to Baku, I have found that there is no big difference between the two societies. The only difficult thing for me is lacking knowledge of the language, but when you go to any place you meet the people who would like to help you or give you advice. The weather is almost the same. May be the only difference is the weather in winter; it’s more windy in Baku than in Egypt.

Talking about similarities, first of all, I want to mention that it is very easy to understand people because we have many common words that have originated from the Arabic language. Additionally, both countries do not discriminate between people based on religion, skin color or thoughts and beliefs.

Baku, one of the world’s most beautiful cities, is located at the junction of Europe and Asia, and it’s an amazing combination of the ancient history and modernization of the country, and moreover, it’s the largest cultural center of Azerbaijan. One of the places I like in Baku is the Torgovaya Str (Main street) in downtown.

No doubt, Azerbaijan has many beautiful cities and regions, and I had the opportunity to visit some of them like Gusar, Shahdag, and Ganja. I still have the time to visit other places like Gabala and Sheki, In sha Allah.

It’s really a great pleasure for me to end my diplomatic career as an Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt in Azerbaijan, and I wish prosperity for friendly people of Azerbaijan with all of my respect to its leadership, His Excellency Mr. Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

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