France and Azebaidjan
Whereas Azerbaijan is grateful to France for its efforts within the Minsk Group to seek a peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and economic exchanges are developing between the two countries, bilateral relations are excellent and marked by a significant number of visits on both sides.
- President Ilham Aliyev made a State visit to France in January 2007. He was also received by the President of the French Republic on 18 September 2012.
- The two Presidents also met on the occasion of the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius on 29 November 2013.
- On 11-12 May 2014, the French President made an official visit to Azerbaijan (the second visit by a French President after that of President Sarkozy in October 2011) and again visited Baku on 25 April 2015 on a working visit.
Azerbaijan is by far, and in value, the Caucasus country with which France has developed the most important trade relations (€1.304 billion in 2015), with a trade balance showing a big deficit for France of €954.8 million in 2015. While French imports from Azerbaijan consist exclusively of energy products, French exports to Azerbaijan are more diverse than our imports (with transport equipment posting the highest growth). In terms of investment and big contracts, French firms have a strong position in the oil and oil-related sector, as well as in the banking, telecommunication and transport sectors. In July 2013, an Azerbaijani businessman bought the Racing Club de Lens (RC Lens) French football club.
French-Azerbaijani relations in the areas of culture and cooperation are excellent.
In 2016 France will devote €277,000 to cultural cooperation and action programmes (€291,000 in 2015) while, on the Azerbaijani side, the Heydar Aliyev Foundation is financing many cultural sponsorship actions in France. In the spring of 2012, the exhibition “Plaisirs de France”, organized in Baku by the Réunion des musées nationaux - Rmn (French Meeting of National Museums) and funded by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, welcomed 40,000 visitors. A French Institute was established in 2004 in Baku, where a French high school financed by the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) and managed by the French Secular Mission (MLF) also opened in 2013 and moved to new premises in September 2014. Finally, the project on a French-Azerbaijani university in Baku, launched with the signing of a letter of intent during the French President’s visit to Azerbaijan in April 2015, should be completed by the start of the 2016 school year.