Interview by Azerbaijan Reporter Mehpara Sultanova on 10 May 2017

Interview of Ambassador Malefane on Political and Cultural Relations of Azerbaijan and South Africa

10 May 2017

How do you estimate general relationship between two countries?

Our relationship is very cordial. We have seen the numbers of delegations from South Africa to Baku. We also have visited to Baku on several occasions. Related to high level visits, our minister of foreign affairs who went to Baku as guest to president of Azerbaijan.  It was also part of consolidation to improve relationships. The way the relationship is strong. We are also in the proses of appointing an honorary council in Azerbaijan.  It can be much better presents in Baku.

How did you meet the news about appointment ambassador to Azerbaijan?

I have never been to Azerbaijan before my appointment. I was wondering what I should expect. But when I first went to present my accreditation the embassy put together program for me to meet to ministries, ambassadors, and business communities. I found palace to be quiet and excitement, and people a quiet warm. I was received warmly by Azerbaijan government, business communities and local people.  So, I really was excited to the appointment arrangement when I can be to see. My contribution of my colleges in the embassies strength me and our relationship between two countries.

What can you say about political relationships between RSA and Azerbaijan?

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of South Africa has especially visited to Baku, not transiting to another country via Baku. That in shelf shows that political relations with Azerbaijan are quite solid and our subsequent visit to Baku also in firmed.

RSA is also development country from point of view economy. How do you see collaboration between Azerbaijan and RSA in this sphere? As you know Azerbaijan is going to pass post-petrol period…

One of the things I came out discussion with Ministry of Foreign Affair of Azerbaijan when I visited to Baku was economic relationship. We need to communicate more than we used to. We need to share information. Because there are so much potential between two countries economic rise. One of the key sectors in collaboration sectors is defense sector. You know Baku is critical market for defense industrial developed. As you Baku able to be innovative and in manufacturing with some of the important defense equipment. So that area in itself is very fruitful. Over in about that Azerbaijan is not a popular destination for South Africans. It basically presents itself as an opportunity that we need to done together.  To see tourism flow of RSA to Azerbaijan. Our tourists go to Azerbaijan and vice versa. Then they can expose some opportunities. Then Azerbaijan can present normally tourist business, capability. Increase of volume of Azerbaijan citizens going to South Africa it is also exploring opportunities in African tourism sector. We are hosting one of the larger tourism fares. South Africa attracting participant “bay us and sell us” from across the world. We expose RSA capable all. Azerbaijan tourism office will also be delegation participating in this fare. It cans assistance increase relationships. 

What kind of tourism will be interesting for Azerbaijani tourist in South Africa?

It depends on people’s preferences, parliamentary conditions, historical background, ambitions, dreams and so on. Some of them attended sport event, come hospital, medical operations or come to country to explore. You will use transport, other facilities, everything spend money. South Africa cocktail of many experiences.  It across many things. Typically Azerbaijani citizen South Africa a country is exploring and enjoying venue.

Tourist comes to our country mainly from Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. There are people coming for business tourism and do business. There are popular destinations in our country. I can say that our country well organized business, infrastructure, banking system and developed it. Tourism is one of key economic rivalry and potential sector in RSA.

A cultural relationship is one of the main ways to approach of people. Now Azerbaijan gives great priority to this factor. As you know each two year holding Forum on intercultural dialog…

Cultural relationships are concrete for diplomatic ties between countries. For example in South Africa there is South Africa -Azerbaijan Business Forum. One of the think that local South African cultural groups in South Africa during Azerbaijan national day, the locals coming participate cultural performance. They been taught how perform Azerbaijan national dances and songs. So it one of things that we need cultivates and improves. Apart from that we can manage present and celebrate one of country days in Azerbaijan:  hold showcase, what is Africa culturally and what able to offer. Also we are open another cultural exchange program organized in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan will be informed about it surely. We will organize cultural program. South African cultural group go and participate, also delegation from embassy also come for to be part of this event.

Recently you have visited Baku and held meetings. What was proposing of this visit, if no secret?

One of thing that has been result of our engagement with Azerbaijan. We signed agreement between two countries on collaboration diplomatic training. So in Diplomatic Academy in Baku will collaborate with institute for diplomats in South Africa on diplomatic training. Some of our future diplomats will come to Azerbaijan for training. That is in itself result of work that we make collaboration. So in this way we also improve our relationships.

How did you see Azerbaijan Baku? What kind of impression created on your mind?

I was only in Baku. It is modern city. You have choice different choose for resonant, markets, fashion stores.  It is quite exciting and attractive venue. Even in night time I found quite attractive and nice city. I have also been in the Old City. People are very friendly.

As you know Baku now is hosting Islamic Game…

My visit to Baku is coincided motorizing event. As for Islamic Game International compotation, it is good. Baku doing well. More people come to your country major event and conferences. In result they expose country. It is good thing and true games. Baku city embracing you welcoming and offering you wonderful place for travel. And any tourist would like to come.

Did you find similarities between our people?

Azerbaijan people are quite warm. This similarity is also in our country, generally Africa. Besides diplomat at times I also used to walk Baku alone. I didn’t fill any discomfort in street. People continue their business. Politely ask me where I am from. Also offer show me other palace.  People tent open up you, before not knowing who you are.  

Do you have any monument in the UNESKO list?

Their number is 5. It is quite a good sign for us. We are basically contributing to history of mankind in the world. One of our popular sites is Crel of humankind. It is not easy to include monument to this list. It is very difficult and responsible proses.

 What is position RSA to the Karabag conflict?  

We are supporting resolutions of United Nations. We calling find peacefully solution of conflict. We are opposing situation generating into conflict. Result of conflict innocent people lose their leaves, we say that it is not legal occupancy of this territory. In this regard implementing United Nations’ resolution is better way.

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The interview is published in two section as cultural and political in Azeri language.

Cultural parts are published in the link;
http://medeniyyet.az/page/news/39340/Medeniyyet-elaqelerin-qurulmasinda-cox-muhum-amildir.html

Political parts are published in the link;
http://www.1news.az/az/siyaset/20170530100626361.html