Baku, September 15, AZERTAC
After the ceremony of signing the documents President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and President of the Czech Republic Milos Zeman held a joint press conference.
The heads of state made statements and responded to questions from media representatives.
Statement by President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev:
- Dear Mr. President,
Ladies and gentlemen!
Mr. President, let me warmly welcome you to Azerbaijan again. Welcome to our country! We attach great importance to your visit. I am confident that the visit will be successful and its results will bring our countries even closer together.
Our relations are developing successfully. There are excellent results in political, economic and cultural fields. We successfully cooperate in the political sphere. We also work and cooperate in the international plane, within the framework of international organizations. Today, we have sincerely and thoroughly discussed various aspects of our relations. We see once again that there are no obstacles for the deepening of bilateral cooperation. On the contrary, there are partnership and friendly relations between us.
The declaration on strategic cooperation we have signed today is a clear proof of my words. It is a very serious political document that reflects the essence of our bilateral relations and has lifted our relations to the level of strategic partnership.
I told you that we have seven similar agreements and declarations with member-states of the European Union. We have already signed documents on strategic partnership with eight member countries of the European Union.
This Declaration reflects the various aspects of our relations. At the same time, it points to the essence of our most painful problem – the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the ways of its settlement. Thank you for this position and for your support. The Declaration states that the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict must be resolved on the basis of the UN Charter, relevant UN Security Council resolutions, the Helsinki Final Act, sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of borders of countries. This is the only possible solution. All conflicts must be resolved on the basis of norms and principles of international law.
The internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent seven districts, have been under Armenian occupation for many years. A policy of ethnic cleansing has been carried out against our people in these districts. As a result of this policy, more than a million Azerbaijanis have become refugees and IDPs in their native land. Twenty per cent of our land is under occupation, while Armenia continues its aggressive policy and ignores the calls of international mediators. The OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs dealing with the issue – Russia, France and the United States – have stated at the highest level that the status quo related to this conflict was unacceptable and had to be changed. Changing the status quo, of course, means an end to occupation. We want that and the international community wants that. I am sure we will achieve that. Azerbaijan will restore its territorial integrity and international law and justice will prevail.
The statement also reflects other areas. We successfully cooperate in the field of economy. I can say that we discussed mainly bilateral economic cooperation both at the level of delegations and in the bilateral format. There is excellent potential here. Trade between our countries is growing. At the same time, major funds are allocated for Czech banks to implement projects in Azerbaijan. We are grateful for this because these funds help implement various infrastructure projects in Azerbaijan, primarily those in the transport sector. We have had a thorough exchange on this issue and, of course, appreciate the results. At the same time, we must look to the future. I am sure that the Czech-Azerbaijani business forum tomorrow will be an important event for the deepening of bilateral economic cooperation.
Issues of mutual investment are also important. Both the Czech Republic and Azerbaijan are very favorable countries for foreign investment. Foreign investment is protected at a high level. We must try to ensure that our businessmen know each other better and that cooperation is deepened. A meeting of the intergovernmental commission has also been held recently. It is also a very important format. Thus, I am sure that even better results will be achieved in the economic field in the coming years. I can already say that we may be pleased with the level of trade.
Cooperation in the energy sector, of course, is also a subject of negotiations. Azerbaijan exports crude oil to the Czech Republic. Azerbaijani oil accounts for a certain part in the energy balance of the Czech Republic – about 30 per cent. This is also a very important event. At present, Azerbaijan is engaged in the realization of the Southern Gas Corridor. It is a giant energy project. Its total cost is $45 billion. It will contribute to the second phase in the development of the "Shah Deniz" gas field. At the same time, three new gas pipelines will be built: the South Caucasus gas pipeline linking Azerbaijan with Georgia, TANAP passing through Turkey and TAP, a third gas project stretching from the border of Turkey to the borders of Italy. Along with the development of the "Shah Deniz-2" gas field project, these four giant projects form the Southern Gas Corridor, and Azerbaijan is acting as the leader of all this. Azerbaijan participates in all these projects as an investor and in some projects as the main investor. Despite the fact that oil prices have fallen sharply in recent months, there are no delays with this project and all work is being done in a timely manner. Azerbaijan is absolutely confident that as a result of international cooperation this project will be implemented. Therefore, the construction of a new gas pipeline from Azerbaijan to Europe will be ensured.
There are good prospects for cooperation in other areas as well. I want to emphasize the humanitarian sphere. People in Azerbaijan are very interested in the culture and history of the Czech Republic. I am confident, Mr. President, that you and members of your delegation will become acquainted with this area.
I welcome you again - welcome to Azerbaijan! I am confident that your visit will be successful.