The country of Senegal, located in the west of Africa, got its name from hospitality. Although this country is not well known in Azerbaijan, Dakar Square, built after the twinning of its capital Dakar and Baku, is famous. One of the central squares of Dakar is also named after Baku.

Senegal’s ambassador to Azerbaijan, Cheikh Gueye (who also represents his country in Türkiye and resides in Ankara), spoke about his plans to further expand relations between the two countries in an interview with the Turkish Bureau of Report.

– Mr. Ambassador, how do you assess the current state of Senegal-Azerbaijani relations?

– I am the ambassador of my country in Türkiye as well as Azerbaijan, and my residence is in Ankara. The history of relations between the two countries goes back to the past. For example, Senegal and Azerbaijan have always supported each other within the UN and the Non-Aligned Movement. Relations between our countries are at a high level. But as a representative of my country, I try to be as active as I can to raise these relations to a higher level. I have certain proposals and plans.

– What are your proposals and plans?

– I believe that our countries can cooperate in many areas, and there are ample opportunities for this. In this sense, as an ambassador, I try to further develop political and diplomatic relations. We will try to further develop our relations at the level of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs.

At one of the events, I met a large number of journalists from Azerbaijan and Senegal. There, I stated that there is a need for mutual promotion of both countries, and for this, we should use the power of the media. In addition, Azerbaijan has many years of experience in the field of oil and gas. In Senegal, oil has just been discovered, that is, we have just joined the ranks of oil-producing countries. In this regard, we need to exchange experience with Azerbaijan. Last month, when I presented my credentials to President Ilham Aliyev, I expressed my thoughts about this. The head of state welcomed this and even stated that it is possible for students from Senegal to study in higher education institutions operating in Azerbaijan in the field of oil and energy.

Another area of our cooperation may cover economic issues. We can attract businessmen to economic cooperation and give them incentives for this. At the same time, it is possible to establish cooperation between Azerbaijan and Senegal in private, public, and social fields. For example, it is very easy to start a business in Senegal. That’s because the authorities in our country facilitate the activities of foreign investors. We are also interested in Azerbaijani businessmen coming to our country and establishing businesses. They can establish businesses in agriculture, textiles, and industry. There is no obstacle. In our agriculture, cashew is one of our main production areas. In this field, Azerbaijani businessmen can establish their businesses in a short period of time. We will also discuss what products we can export to Azerbaijan.

– What products are mainly exported from your country to Azerbaijan?

– Azerbaijan does not buy anything from Senegal yet. For this, it is necessary to further develop cooperation. Let me also say that, on a practical level, our presidents agree on many issues.

In my opinion, many African countries would like to cooperate with Azerbaijan in all fields. To my mind, there is currently not enough information about Africa in Azerbaijan.

– There is a famous Dakar Square in Baku, the two cities were twinned back in 1967. In honor of this brotherhood, there is even a monument in Dakar Square with the inscription Cités Unies (Twinned Cities) in French. How is Azerbaijan known in Senegal?

– Yes, there is a Baku Square in Dakar, just as there is a Dakar Square in Baku. This place is very popular in Dakar. It has also been renovated. We even have a monument related to Baku. It is a symbol of our brotherhood. Through this brotherhood, we have known each other since the Soviet era. But it is possible to further develop these relations. Frankly, there is little information about Azerbaijan in Africa. My goal is to get to know each other better. For this, we can organize cultural days, decades, and other activities.

– What are the relations between Senegal and Azerbaijan in the field of tourism? What steps are planned for the development and promotion of this field?

– Senegal is a tourist country. We are famous for our hospitality. Even Senegal means “hospitable country.” This is also reflected on our coat of arms: One people, one faith, one goal. Although Islam is the leading religion, our country is tolerant. Since Senegal used to be a French colony, the French language is widespread in our country, but in addition to the local language, some speak English and some speak Portuguese. Our food is also well-known. Even our Thieboudienne dish with fish and rice is included in the UNESCO national heritage list. We also have two popular drinks made from ginger and the oldest tree in the world, our symbol of longevity, the rare Baobab tree. It is very important for health.

Our fish are also famous. Besides, our well-known football players are not few. There are even some of them who play in the Fenerbahce football team of our brotherly country, Türkiye.

It is very easy for Azerbaijani tourists to travel to Senegal. Also, Senegal is not a very expensive country for tourist travel. Visa is free. If there was a Soviet period, relations between Azerbaijan and African countries could not have risen to this level. And now your country is independent and connects with any continental country. We have a different culture, and Azerbaijani people will be able to get acquainted with this culture. We, as the embassy, will provide any information about this. The best thing is to fly from Baku to Dakar (laughs-ed.).

– Is a high-level visit expected from Senegal to Azerbaijan in the near future?

– Last month, when I presented my credentials to the president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, he invited the head of state of Senegal, Macky Sall, to Baku to participate in COP29. I conveyed it. The president of Senegal accepted the invitation and said that he will visit Azerbaijan.

– Have you visited Karabakh, East Zangazur, after liberation from occupation?

– I received an invitation. But it was not possible for me to go because I did not present my credentials to the president of Azerbaijan at that time. My visit to Karabakh and East Zangazur is among my main plans. I will apply to go there. Let me also say that Senegal supports Azerbaijan’s policy on the Karabakh issue. Mr. Ilham Aliyev gave me a very nice book about Karabakh. The beautifully designed book is very valuable to me.

– You probably have certain impressions about Azerbaijan…