Now Azerbaijan seeks Indian tourists, investment

May 12th, 2010 - 11:39 am ICT by IANS  

By Alkesh Sharma
Chandigarh, May 12 (IANS) The Central Asian country of Azerbaijan, one of the main exporters of oil and gas to India, is looking to expand bilateral ties in areas like tourism, movies and investment in the non-oil sector.

“India is an important country for us and we certainly want to strengthen our relations beyond the area of oil and gas. We want an increased number of tourists and investors from here and we are working in that direction,” Azad Nagiyev, deputy chief of the Azerbaijan Embassy in New Delhi, told IANS here in an interview.

Located at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, hydrocarbon-rich Azerbaijan has been one of the main exporters of oil and gas to India. The country’s officials are exploring new areas of partnership with India.

“I am myself studying the needs of local people by travelling to different places. Our aim is to disseminate knowledge about Azerbaijan among the masses and for that we would organise various events and seminars in the coming days,” said Nagiyev.

About bilateral relations, Nagiyev said: “Both India and Azerbaijan have rich cultural heritage and share common roots. Azerbaijan is the motherland of many prominent poets and artists of yesteryear who later made India their home.”

“There are many temples and monuments, displaying Indian culture and art, which were established long back in the 14th century, in our capital city Baku. We also have many cities and towns in Azerbaijan that were established by Indians and these places attract many Indian tourists,” he pointed out.

Azerbaijan became an independent country after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Bollywood movies are very popular in Azerbaijan. “There is a huge fan following for your stars and there you will find many local people with the names of Raj Kapoor and Nargis,” said Nagiyev.

“We also want Indian film producers to come to Azerbaijan and to capture exquisite locales of our country.”

Around 500 Indian families are now based in Azerbaijan, most of whom are engaged in their own businesses.

Nagiyev said his country wants Indian businessmen to invest in non-oil sector.

“Oil and gas sector are already established in Azerbaijan and they do not offer much scope to new investors from India. The major task before us is to establish a strong base in agriculture, tourism, high technology and electronics sectors where we want the participation of Indian investors,” he said.

Two-way trade between Azerbaijan and India at present is estimated at over $2 billion.

“We want to double it in the coming months,” said Nagiyev.

(Alkesh Sharma can be contacted at alkesh.s@ians.in)

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