Baku, July 22, AZERTAC
After the one-on-one meeting, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and President of the European Council Donald Tusk have made statements for the press.
Statement by President Ilham Aliyev:
Dear Mr President,
Welcome to Azerbaijan. Your visit is of great importance in terms of relations between European Union and Azerbaijan. We want to develop this partnership in the future and we are very satisfied that we have already a big asset - many years of active cooperation between EU and Azerbaijan.
Today we discussed a broad range of issues of bilateral relations, regional issues. We see positive developments in EU-Azerbaijan partnership. Your visit, Mr. President, is a good indicator of the importance of these relations. We have close political ties and want to develop them in the future.
We discussed today the issues of regional security, particularly Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and ways how to resolve this conflict. I informed Mr. President of the current situation on the negotiation table and the history of the conflict. The conflict lasts for more than two decades. Internationally recognized part of Azerbaijan - Nagorno-Karabakh and seven other districts - are under Armenian occupation for more than twenty years. United Nations Security Council adopted four resolutions demanding immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian troops from our territories. But they are not implemented. Armenia occupies Nagorno-Karabakh and seven other districts of Azerbaijan, millions of Azerbaijanis are victims of this aggression. They became IDPs and refugees and our people were subject to ethnic cleansing from Armenia. The soonest resolution of the conflict, based on the international law norms and relevant UN Security Council resolutions, will be to the benefit of all the people of the region of South Caucasus. We hope that international community will put more pressure on aggressor to start de-occupation of Azerbaijani lands and as soon as the de-occupation starts, I think the process of normalization of relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia can also start. Territorial integrity of Azerbaijan has the same value as the territorial integrity of any other country and the conflict must be resolved on this basis.
We discussed our economic cooperation and we are very glad that Europe is our main trading partner. Almost half of our foreign trade is with member states of European Union. And European Union countries are our main investors - also about fifty percent of foreign investments come from European Union. There is good potential to develop this economic cooperation through investments, other forms of economic activity.
One of the elements of potential cooperation is transportation. We are now together with our neighbors in the phase of completion of the railroad, which connects Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey and thus connects Europe and Asia. This will be new a silk route, which will increase mutual trade volumes between Europe and Asia and Azerbaijan as a transit country will play its important role.
Also, of course, we discussed today issues related to the energy security. We are good partners with Europe. The Southern Gas Corridor project, which was launched last September in Baku already is in the active phase of implementation. Azerbaijan initiated this project and is actively working together with partners, neighboring countries and the investors to implement the project on time. We have huge gas reserves. Proven reserves are about 2.6 trillion cubic meters. Shahdeniz gas field, which is so far the only resource base for the Southern Gas Corridor, contains more than one trillion cubic meters of gas. So our reserves will be enough to supply European consumers with natural gas for decades ahead. Southern Gas Corridor is a project, which unites countries and which is to the benefit of the producers, transitors and consumers. I think we found the right balance between these three segments of this energy project, which was reflected in the declaration adopted here in Baku in February at the first meeting of the consultative board of Southern Gas Corridor.
This March TANAP, which is part of Southern Gas Corridor, also started to be constructed. So we are on time. This is a project of energy security. Today energy security cannot be separated from the national security of the countries. This is a project of energy diversification, because Southern Gas Corridor is not only diversification of routes, but most importantly, it is diversification of supply sources. Azerbaijan with its resources, infrastructure and with the experience of implementing these mega energy projects, of course, is playing its role and we are very glad that the role of Azerbaijan in this area was reflected in the recently adopted documents of EU.
We discussed also the regional security issues in the broad region of Caspian, Middle East, Central Asia. Also we have a good potential of cooperation in the area of culture, in the humanitarian area. The issues related to religious tolerance, interreligious dialogue are very actively addressed here in Azerbaijan. Actually, Azerbaijan is known already as one of the international centers of multiculturalism. I think this also could be part of the future format of cooperation between EU and Azerbaijan. We have very active relations with most of the member states of European Union in political, economic and other areas. So this shows that the picture is very positive. Of course, the visit of Mr. President is a good sign of our partnership and it opens the way for future active and productive cooperation.
Mr. President welcome once again.