Press Statements by President Ilham Aliyev and President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso
14 june 2014, 13:15
Statement by President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev
- Dear Mr. President,
Welcome to Azerbaijan! Today we have discussed the developing relations between Azerbaijan and the European Commission. I remember that a signing ceremony and a press conference were held in this same hall three years ago, signaling the start of active cooperation between Azerbaijan and the European Union in the field of energy security.
Another document was also signed today, paving the way for the future development of our cooperation. I am confident that our active cooperation will continue to develop in the coming years.
Our partnership is very positive and covers various areas. This is the second visit of the President of the European Commission to Azerbaijan. I have visited the European Commission five times. We have an ongoing dialogue. We openly and amicably discuss all aspects of our cooperation.
Our political relations are very strong and positive and have a bright future. The "Eastern Partnership" Agreement has raised them to an even higher level.
I do hope that in the coming months we will be actively working on a new format for our cooperation. Today we have had a detailed discussion of this potential cooperation format. As I noted at the press conference in Brussels last year, Azerbaijan wants to be as close as possible to the European Union, and today I want to reiterate that. It is a matter of strategic importance for us, and these relations have a great potential in the future.
The work done to date is an example of positive cooperation, as our relations cover various areas. We have discussed the situation related to political reforms and the process of democratization in Azerbaijan. Provision of fundamental freedoms is one of the main priorities of our government because we associate modernization of our country with the modernization of all spheres of life. Today all fundamental freedoms are guaranteed in Azerbaijan. There are free media and free internet. As I have informed Mr. President, 70 per cent of Azerbaijan's population are active users of the Internet. The freedom of assembly is fully guaranteed in our country. The freedom of religion is also fully provided in our country.
Azerbaijan is a multicultural country and society. One of our biggest assets is the fact that our country is home to representatives of different nations and religions who live here in peace and harmony.
The European Union is our major trading partner. If we talk about exports, the European Union accounts for 80 per cent of our exports. Our economic cooperation has a great potential. In particular, various important agreements worth billions of dollars have recently been signed with European manufacturers, covering energy and non-energy sectors. This is exactly why I think that even greater activity will be observed in the economic sphere in the near future.
We have also discussed the process of negotiations between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Unfortunately, despite the fact that negotiations have been under way for 20 years, no progress has been achieved. The main reason for that is Armenia’s reluctance to achieve peace with Azerbaijan. In other words, they do not want to change the status quo.
Despite the fact that the heads of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chair countries have made several statements on the unacceptability of the status quo, Armenia ignores all this and does everything to freeze the situation and maintain the status quo. Our lands are under occupation. Twenty per cent of our internationally recognized territory is under Armenian control. Four UN Security Council resolutions calling for an unconditional withdrawal of Armenian troops from Azerbaijani lands have yet to be implemented. Similar resolutions and decisions have been adopted by the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, the OSCE and other international organizations, but none of them has been executed.
Thus, the speediest settlement of the conflict within the norms and principles of international law and the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan is an important issue for our region. The resolution of this conflict will create a new environment in the South Caucasus region, an atmosphere of peace and cooperation.
Of course, we have also discussed issues of energy cooperation between Azerbaijan and the European Union today.
Three years ago, President Barroso and I signed a historic declaration on energy cooperation here. It can already be called a historic document because the successful implementation of this document has already been started.
In 2012, we signed an agreement on the Trans-Anatolian pipeline with Turkey. In 2013, an agreement on the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline was signed and finally, at the end of the same year, the final investment decision on "Shah Deniz-2" was signed. These agreements will pave the way for the exports of Azerbaijani gas to European markets.
The process has already begun. We intend to implement these ambitious projects in a timely manner. "Shah Deniz-2", TANAP and TAP are the largest infrastructure projects in Europe today. They are worth at least $45 billion. We have the financial and technical capacity to implement them. We cooperate with all our partners, as well as transit countries and consumers. Of course, the participation of the European Commission in the coordination of future activities among all sides and participants is a very important issue for us, and we appreciate that.
If energy security means diversification of supply routes for us, for Europe it means energy security and the diversification of sources. Azerbaijan is not only a new route for Europe, but also a new source of natural gas. We have ample reserves, and the existing infrastructure will be supplemented with new facilities. We intend to implement this historic project on time.
Our relations cover various areas. Mr. President and I have had a very frank and open discussion. I would like to express my gratitude for that.
This is the way it should be because we have to determine the directions of our future work and take further steps which will bring us together. I would also like to add that we have an excellent relationship with the majority of the European Union member-states. This also contributes to the overall positive environment of our cooperation.
Mr. President, once again welcome to Azerbaijan!