Vladislav Antipin, Head of the Zakarpattia Bureau of the Executive Committee for Reforms (National Reforms Council) of the Office of the President of Ukraine, Advisor to the Governor of the Zakarpattia Oblast and Chairman of the Regional Rada, gave an interview to Report.

– Given that Zakarpattia is one of the leading regions in Ukraine, what are the shortcomings in the context of relations with Azerbaijan? What would you suggest new?

– I think there are shortcomings. Therefore, it is necessary to start economic cooperation at an intensive pace. Zakarpattia is the gateway from Ukraine to Europe and neighboring countries – Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, and Poland. That is, we can be both a gate and a hub. Therefore, Azerbaijan, engaged in strategic economic development, must be active in the Zakarpattia Oblast. What can be done? First, it is necessary to hold a forum of strong companies from Azerbaijan, for example, oil companies. It is no secret that gas and other mineral deposits have recently been discovered in the Zakarpattia Oblast. Therefore, I believe that SOCAR and other leading oil companies should take an active position in the exploration of hydrocarbon fields.

Second, logistics and trade. Combining its investments with Turkish banks, Azerbaijan can play a crucial role in trade with Europe in the Zakarpattia Oblast. SOCAR Trading can also have a good image by opening gas stations at the entrance to Ukraine on highways, which are under construction from Slovakia and Hungary towards Ukraine. At the same time, logistics companies can participate in international trade and provide transportation services.

– The liberation of Azerbaijan’s territories from occupation last year led to significant economic results. Especially in terms of tourism. What are your views on the development of the region and the prospects of its cooperation with Ukraine?

– Zakarpattia is a potential tourist area. First, there are many sources of water. Besides, there are mountains and lakes with a green landscape. All this is close to both Europe and the region. It just needs investment and systematic management. There is a need for the management skills of companies experienced in hospitality. In this sense, the union of Turkish and Azerbaijani companies with extensive experience in this field would be helpful, and it would be a stimulating investment.

– Ofisimizin əsas işi də qanunvericilik aktları ilə bağlı bütün belə təşəbbüsləri bir yerə toplamaq və biznes mühitinin yaxşılaşmasına və investisiya mühitinin maksimal effektivliyinə istiqamətlənən bütün prosesləri optimallaşdırmaqdır.

– You are also a regional representative of a reforming structure in the country. At what stage are the current republic-wide reforms in the Zakarpattia Oblast?

– The Zakarpattia office of the National Reform Council is in its infancy and active phase. Now all the initiatives, information on potential investment opportunities in the region are being collected and analyzed. The legislative framework is also being studied. We will play both a pioneering and accompanying role. We are the initiators of amendments and annexes to the legislation. These initiatives are presented at meetings with the participation of the president and ministers. As Zakarpattia Oblast, we will work for the effective implementation of reforms.

– You are representing a reforming structure. Has the Verkhovna Rada approved a proposal of yours or your organization that will accelerate reforms?