Official dinner reception was hosted on behalf of President of Bulgaria Rosen Plevneliev in honor of President Ilham Aliyev VIDEO

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Sofia, March 5, AZERTAC

An official dinner reception has been hosted on behalf of President of the Republic of Bulgaria Rosen Plevneliev in honor of President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev in Sofia.

The national anthems of the two countries were played.

Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev addressed the event.

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev said:

- Dear Mr. President!

Ladies and gentlemen!

First of all, I want to thank you for the hospitality extended to me and my delegation. I want to take this opportunity to sincerely congratulate the people of Bulgaria on the national holiday of 3 March, Liberation Day.

I am very glad to visit Bulgaria again. Your country is rich in history and culture. This is my third visit to your country. It is a vivid example of the high level of relations between our countries. I appreciate the results of the visit. The negotiations and the exchange of views we have held, the documents we have signed, in particular the "Joint Declaration on Strategic Partnership between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Republic of Bulgaria" convince us that the results will be successful and our strategic partnership will further strengthen.

The relations between the peoples of Azerbaijan and Bulgaria have an ancient history. Numerous facts confirm our ties in the fields of culture, art and science. The poems of genius Azerbaijani poet Nizami Ganjavi were translated and published in Bulgarian back in the 19th century. Prominent Azerbaijani poets and writers have created wonderful works devoted to Bulgaria and the Bulgarian people. The classics of Bulgarian literature Ivan Vazov, Hristo Botev, Yemelyan Stanev and many others are read with love in Azerbaijan today.

There are good opportunities for the development of our relations in the economic sphere. The favorable political and economic environment available in Azerbaijan is highly appreciated by international financial institutions.

The Davos Economic Forum has honored Azerbaijan with 38th place in the world in terms of economic competitiveness. This is evidence of good conditions for mutual investment between the two countries, the activities of companies and the expansion of bilateral cooperation. At the same time, there are broad prospects for cooperation in the energy sector.

The proven gas reserves of our country, which has ample hydrocarbon resources, constitute 2.6 trillion cubic meters. Currently, there are seven oil and gas pipelines transporting energy resources from Azerbaijan in different directions. Azerbaijan is the major shareholder in the TANAP project, while in TAP and "Shah Deniz" we own a large share. Along with the expansion of the South Caucasus gas pipeline, these projects are the largest infrastructure projects currently under construction in Europe and are worth at least $45 billion.

Azerbaijan is not content only with the development of the energy sector. We are investing heavily in other projects that contribute to regional cooperation. The first phase of the largest International Trade Seaport in the Caspian and the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway will be completed this year. Thus, we will put into operation the most convenient and shortest railway connecting Asia and Europe.

Azerbaijan is ready to share the opportunities of this transport infrastructure with its partners. There are ample opportunities for the successful development of relations between our countries in the humanitarian field. Baku Slavic University teaches Bulgarian language, history and culture. A centre for Bulgarian language and culture has been in operation since 2004. In 2013, a Center of the Azerbaijani language and culture was established at Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski with a view to acquainting the Bulgarian youth with the culture, language and literature of Azerbaijan. Currently, the university teaches the "Azerbaijani multiculturalism" discipline.

The cooperation carried out with Bulgaria within the European Union is also gratifying. Azerbaijan has been hosting international events for many years now. The first European Games due to be held in Baku in June this year will be one of such events. I wish the Bulgarian participants in this event, which we will organize at a high-level, every success.

Azerbaijan also plays an important part in protecting the security and stability, promoting development and international cooperation in its region. Unfortunately, the most difficult problem in the region, the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, remains unresolved.

As a result of military aggression on the part of Armenia, 20 per cent of Azerbaijani territory, our historical lands of Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent seven regions have been occupied. A policy of ethnic cleansing has been carried out in these areas, more than a million of our fellow countrymen have become refugees and internally displaced persons. The UN Security Council has adopted four resolutions in connection with the conflict, demanding an unconditional withdrawal of Armenian armed forces from the occupied territories. Similar decisions and resolutions have been adopted by the OSCE, NATO, the European Parliament, PACE, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and other influential international organizations. I would like to note again that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict should be resolved within the territorial integrity, sovereignty and inviolability of borders of Azerbaijan, as highlighted in the "Joint Declaration on Strategic Partnership between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Republic of Bulgaria" signed today. I express my gratitude to the Bulgarian side for such a fair position.

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