Baku, October 24, AZERTAC
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and President of the Republic of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic have made statements for the press.
Statement of President Ilham Aliyev
Ladies and gentlemen,
Once again, Madam President, I would like to welcome you to our country. We are very glad that you accepted my invitation and are visiting Azerbaijan on an official visit. We had an opportunity to discuss our bilateral issues during our meeting at the conference in London at the beginning of this year. Today we had very broad discussions on the important issues of mutual interest, bilateral, regional ones, issues related to security, cooperation, trade. I think we have a very high level of mutual understanding on how to develop our cooperation. We have a very solid legal base for our cooperation. Three years ago during my official visit to Croatia we signed a declaration on strategic partnership and friendship, which is the fundamental document. Actually the name of this document shows how important it is. So, we are strategic partners and friends.
For us Croatia is one of the friendly countries which we cooperate with for many years. Strategic partnership and friendship declaration covers all the areas of our cooperation. We have very good political contacts and today’s visit of Madam President shows that we actively communicate in the framework of international organizations, United Nations, OSCE, Council of Europe.
Today we broadly discussed EU-Azerbaijan partnership with Madam President, and I express gratitude to Croatia for supporting the rapprochement between EU and Azerbaijan. We are now working on the future format of EU-Azerbaijan cooperation. We already have strategic partnership declarations with nine member countries of EU. And I think it is a good basis for a potential EU-Azerbaijan agreement.
We broadly discussed issues related to our economic cooperation. Of course, it will be more broadly discussed at the business forum tomorrow. But we identified the main areas of priorities, which are trade and transportation. We need to increase the level of mutual trade. There are good opportunities for transportation. It is not only our purchasing ships from Croatia – though we are very satisfied with it, these are excellent ships and help us to increase cargo transportation here on the Caspian – but also the corridor between East and West, which goes through Azerbaijan and which is a new road, New Silk Road, which will save a lot of time for companies and countries. And cooperation in the area of transportation will create new opportunities also for business groups.
We discussed also issues related to regional security. I informed Madam President of the current status of negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan on the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Unfortunately, for many years our lands are under occupation. Twenty per cent of the territory of Azerbaijan is occupied – not only Nagorno-Karabakh, but seven districts surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh autonomous district. We have more than one million refugees as a result of this occupation. So our people were subject of ethnic cleansing policy by Armenia. International organizations adopted important decisions and resolutions, particularly Security Council of United Nations adopted four resolutions demanding immediate, full and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian troops from the territories of Azerbaijan. These resolutions remain on paper for more than twenty years. And other organizations like the European Parliament, Council of Europe, Islamic Cooperation Organization, Non-Alignment Movement, all of them, adopted similar documents. But unfortunately the conflict is not resolved because Armenia doesn’t want peace. They want to keep status-quo unchanged. They don’t want to listen to the statements of the Presidents of the Minsk Group co-chair countries – the United States, Russia and France – which on several occasions publicly said that status-quo is not acceptable. So this is a direct message to Armenian leadership, which wants to keep the status-quo unchanged and ignores not only resolutions of Security Council of United Nations, norms of international behavior, but also ignores the statements of the leaders of the three leading countries of the world. This is not acceptable and there should be serious measures taken by international community to force Armenia to comply with international law and liberate, without any precondition, territories, which do not belong to them, belong to us. Resolution of the conflict must be based on the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, which is recognized by the whole world. No country in the world, including Armenia recognizes this marionette regime of Nagorno-Karabakh. The territorial integrity of Azerbaijan is of the same value as territorial integrity of any other country.
Today we also discussed cooperation in the energy area, which is very promising. And we are already partners. Croatia participated at the second Advisory Council of the Southern Gas Corridor, which took place this February in Baku. We have a memorandum of understanding between our countries on the project related to the gas delivery to Europe. The Southern Gas Corridor Project is a global project of energy security, and Azerbaijan as a leading country is playing a very important role. This role, by the way, is appreciated and referred to in the memorandum between EU-Azerbaijan on strategic partnership in energy area.
The Southern Gas Corridor project is already a reality. Implementation of the project is on time, and I hope that at the latest stage Croatia and other countries of the Balkans will join this important project of energy security and diversification, the project of cooperation. Today seven countries are already members of the team, if I may say so. I think that several countries including Croatia will soon join it.
We have a lot of plans for development of other sectors of our economy, agriculture, tourism, of course, people-to-people contacts. The excellent performance of Robert Prosinecki, who does a great job, seems to be a good example of people-to-people contacts and the good promotion of Croatia in Azerbaijan. We are proud of our team as now after so many years of expectations our team, under his leadership, is now number two in the group. And after three games they have got seven points – two victories and one draw, which is an important achievement. Of course, what he does here is highly appreciated by our people, not only fans, football fans, but people. And of course everybody knows that he is from Croatia. So he is a good ambassador of your country, and I would like to use this opportunity to express gratitude to him for what he does. So this is also an important sign of our cooperation and the visit of Madam President, of course, opens new opportunities for that. So once again, Madam President, welcome to Azerbaijan.