Baku, December 13, AZERTAC
Following the ceremony of signing documents, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and Prime Minister of the State of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu have made press statements.
Statement of President Ilham Aliyev
Dear Mr. Prime Minister,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Once again, Mr. Prime Minister, I welcome you to Azerbaijan. I am very glad to host you in our country. You visited Azerbaijan almost 20 years ago and now it is a second visit of yours. Though it is a short visit, it is very productive. Definitely, the visit will strengthen bilateral ties between our countries.
We cooperate in many areas. The documents signed today clearly show that we have very big potential for cooperation. All the documents are very important. Among them I would like to underline the importance of the document, which will allow us to create a joint economic commission, which is a very efficient mechanism of bilateral cooperation. I’m sure it will help to increase trade turnover and to diversify it. Though, trade turnover is at the good level, but mainly because of the oil supplies from Azerbaijan to Israel. We need to work in order to diversify and increase it.
We discussed today a very broad range of issues concerning our bilateral relations, regional development, and the discussions were very open, friendly and will help us to strengthen our bilateral ties.
We have very good prospects for cooperation in agriculture. We discussed it with Mr. Prime Minister. Israel has very modern technologies. Some of them we are using, and some of them probably will come to Azerbaijan later. There are good prospects for cooperation in that area.
Tourism is one of the areas of potential development. I am sure that the direct flight between Israel and Azerbaijan will help us to see the growing number of tourists in both directions. Cooperation in the area of education has very great potential.
Also we actively cooperate in the area of defense industries and this cooperation lasts already for many years. I’ll just bring you one figure to illustrate how broad this cooperation is. So far the contracts between Azerbaijani and Israeli companies with respect to purchasing defense equipment has been close to five billion dollars. More precisely, 4,850,000,000 dollars. The biggest part of these contracts has already been executed and still we continue to work on that. And we are very satisfied with the level of this cooperation.
We talked about people-to-people contacts. This is an important part of our bilateral cooperation because Jews in Azerbaijan and Azerbaijani diaspora in Israel, which consists mainly of Jews from Azerbaijan, is an important factor of our bilateral relations. For centuries, Jews and Azerbaijanis have lived in peace, friendship and continue to live here in Azerbaijan. And the Jewish community in Azerbaijan is a very active part of our society, they contribute a lot to the development of modern Azerbaijan and these close relations between our people is a very important factor in our bilateral relations. For your information, I’d like to say that there are seven synagogues, five of them in Baku, Jewish schools in Azerbaijan. You will visit one of them – Chabad Ohr Avner educational center, which was inaugurated in 2010. I remember that day because I was there at the inauguration ceremony, and the late President Shimon Peres made a video address to us. I am glad that Mr. Prime Minister has time in his tight schedule to visit that educational center and also to meet representatives of the Jewish community.
Relations between Jews and Azerbaijanis have always been very good, during all the times of our history. Jews have lived in Azerbaijan for centuries. It’s their home, they feel themselves at home, and they do a lot in order to strengthen our country. This was during the times of the Tsarist Russia when Azerbaijan was part of Russian Empire, this was during Soviet Union times and now for 25 years of independence relations between the people, all the people who live in Azerbaijan is a good example of multiculturalism, mutual respect, and respect for each others’ traditions, religion. I always say that respect for your own religion and tradition starts with respect for traditions and religions of your neighbor. By the way, I’d like to say that this year was declared the year of multiculturalism in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is recognized in the world as one of the international centers of multiculturalism. I am glad that our citizens, our former citizens – Jews who live now in Israel – keep close ties with Azerbaijan. They help us, they promote us. We have diaspora organizations in many countries, but only in Israel our diaspora consists of people of Jewish origin. This also shows unity between Jews and Azerbaijanis.
Our relations are very broad, diversified. They cover many areas. I mentioned some of them. And I am sure that the visit of Mr. Prime Minister will allow us to discover new areas of cooperation. We have established very close, friendly relations and the visit of the Prime Minister is a good indicator of that.
Once again, Mr. Prime Minister, I’ would like to welcome you and wish you a pleasant stay in Azerbaijan. And I hope that your next visit will be earlier than in 20 years.