An official reception has been held on behalf of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in honor of Greek President Karolos Papoulias who is paying an official visit to our country.
In remarks at the reception, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said:
- Dear Mr. President!
Ladies and gentlemen!
First of all, I would like to warmly salute you and the delegation you are leading and welcome you to Azerbaijan!
I am giving a high assessment to your first visit to Azerbaijan from the standpoint of the development of our bilateral relations. I am sure that the meetings we have held, the documents signed, the exchanges of opinion and discussions conducted, as well as the business forum due tomorrow, will give an impetus to a further expansion of our bilateral relations.
I am pleased to recall my visit to Greece in 2009. We are attaching special importance to the development of our relations with Greece, a country with ancient history and culture. There are broad prospects for the development of cooperation between Azerbaijan and Greece in the areas of tourism, renewable energy, agriculture, etc.
There are also opportunities for bilateral cooperation in such areas as emergency situations, environmental protection, maritime transport. I believe that your visit will contribute to a further development of our cooperation in different spheres.
Next year we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. I do hope that Azerbaijan and Greece will mark this remarkable date by new achievements in different spheres of cooperation.
Relations with the European Union and Euro-Atlantic organizations are an important part of our foreign policies. The joint declaration on the Southern gas corridor Azerbaijan signed with the EU in January is a graphic example of that.
Azerbaijan and Greece also cooperate closely within international organizations. Our cooperation within the UN, OSCE, the Council of Europe, the Black Sea Economic Cooperation organization is very gratifying indeed.
Azerbaijan, a country rich in natural resources and is a leading regional economy. Along with oil reserves, Azerbaijan has confirmed gas reserves exceeding 2.2 trillion cubic meters. Energy cooperation is a priority direction in our relations with the European Union.
At present, there are seven oil and gas pipelines transporting Azerbaijan’s energy resources in various directions. Our country is attaching special importance to diversifying energy exports and is ready to contribute to European energy security.
The major oil and gas projects we are implementing show that we are a reliable partner. Our natural gas is already transported to Greece. We hope Greece will contribute to the transsportation of Azerbaijani gas to European markets as a transit country.
Over the past years Azerbaijan has carried out very successful political and economic reforms. As a result, our gross domestic product has increased about three times, salaries and pensions five to six times, the level of poverty has dropped 4.5 times in the last seven years. A total of $82 billion has been invested in Azerbaijan and over 900,000 jobs created.
In an effort to take its energy resources to world markets, Azerbaijan has created an infrastructure meeting modern standards. Our country is playing an important part in diversifying energy exports and contributing to European energy security.
All this, i.e. the specific projects we are implementing, secures Azerbaijan’s dynamic development on the one hand, and, on the other, brings peace and security to the region and facilitates the processes ongoing here.
Mr. President! Let me reaffirm my satisfaction with hosting you in Azerbaijan, wish you good health, and sustainable development, and further successes to your country and people.
I would like to raise this glass to the development of sincere and friendly relations and mutually beneficial cooperation between Greece and Azerbaijan.
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In remarks at the reception, President of Greece Karolos Papoulias said:
- Mr. President!
Dear Mrs. Aliyeva.
I am very pleased to be in your country on an official visit. I want to thank you very much for the sincere hospitality my delegation and I have enjoyed. Your kind words and friendly message to the people of Greece reflect the wonderful level of relations between our countries and peoples.
Our people have had contacts and cultural influence since ancient times. In his notes about Media, Herodotus wrote that according to the tradition Alexander the Great sent a friendly letter to the prince of Media, Atropates, and the latter replied with an equally friendly letter.
Centuries later, great Azerbaijani poet Nizami Ganjavi dedicated his “Iskandarnamah” epic to Alexander the Great, depicting him as a leader possessing in-depth strategic knowledge.
Our peoples maintained contact in the Byzantine period as well, and a Greek community has been active in the Black Sea region for centuries. Today these contacts bind our countries together.
The President of Greece expressed his satisfaction with the dynamic development of bilateral relations, including the expanding contacts between the countries. He said the third meeting of the joint intergovernmental commission held in Baku recently was a graphic example of that.
Stressing that numerous contacts were evidence of developing bilateral relations, the Greek President said the fourth Greek-Azerbaijani business forum due in Baku would encourage further development of bilateral economic and trade relations.
President Karolos Papoulias said:
As for the energy sphere, I would like to emphasize all cooperation issues, namely the obvious progress in discussions on the construction of a gas pipeline from Azerbaijan to Italy through Turkey and Greece.
The Memorandum of Understanding signed between the State Oil Company of the Republic of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) and the Public Gas Corporation of Greece (DEPA) today is a step in this direction. We hope that the Memorandum will give a further impetus to our energy cooperation.
The agreement on maritime transport will enable a more intense maritime cargo traffic between our countries. Greece, a global cargo shipment leader, may help Azerbaijan to further develop its maritime transport.
Touching upon humanitarian relations, the Greek President expressed hope that the Center of modern Greek language and culture under Baku Slavic University and the workshop on theatrical education in Athens would contribute to a further development of cultural relations.
Speaking about Azerbaijan’s cooperation with the European Union, Karolos Papoulias said:
Greece, an EU member, believes that such EU initiatives as the Eastern Partnership over the Caucasus and the Black Sea cooperation, as well as the role the special envoy is playing, are extremely important. We are welcoming the talks recently launched between your country and the EU with the aim of reaching the Association Agreement. As for the development of your relations with the EU, you may count on our country’s firm support.
In conclusion, indicating that regional and international issues were discussed in the talks with the President of Azerbaijan, the Greek President expressed his gratitude for the hospitality and wished progress and prosperity to the people of Azerbaijan.