Following a document signing ceremony between Azerbaijan and Ukraine, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych held a press conference.
The Presidents made statements for the press.
A joint press conference by the presidents of Azerbaijan and Ukraine
Statement by President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan
- Dear Viktor Fyodorovych!
Esteemed guests, ladies and gentlemen!
With all my heart, I welcome you, Viktor Fyodorovych, to Azerbaijan. This is your first visit to our country as president of Ukraine. I am glad that your visit has been a success and that today’s talks and exchanges of opinion have once again shown how close our countries and peoples are and how close are our countries’ positions.
Very friendly relations between our countries are now a tradition. Today our relations are going through a new stage of development; they are increasingly specific and are distinguished by a dynamism and mutual desire to develop in every sphere.
A very active political dialogue is in process. We are in permanent contact and the exchange of official visits is testimony to the high level of political inter-action between our countries. I recall my official visit to Ukraine at the end of last year with great warmth. Naturally, mutual visits help to bring our countries closer together. We are also working strenuously and supporting each other in international organizations. In the UN, the OSCE, the Council of Europe, the CIS and other organizations our cooperation is of great importance.
We have discussed today a very broad agenda of economic and political inter-action. I briefed the Ukrainian president on progress in the talks towards a settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani, Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. I would like to express my thanks to Ukraine for its principled position on a settlement of the conflict, which was reflected in the joint statement signed today and which states that the conflict must be settled on the basis of the norms and principles of international law, taking into account the principles of territorial integrity, sovereignty and the inviolability of state borders.
At today’s Council of Presidents we also discussed the economic relations between our countries and we have seen good statistics, results and growth in trade. Of course, the rapid growth in trade gives us great optimism and hope. Investment projects are also being implemented by our companies and I am confident that their volume will increase in the near future.
Cooperation in the military-technical sphere also has a traditional format. Now we are engaging at a qualitatively new level and expanding our cooperation in this important sector of the economy. I am confident that the groundwork being done today will enable us to vigorously develop our mutually-advantageous military-technical cooperation, including joint developments and joint production.
Cooperation in the energy sector is an important part of our relations, and here we are enjoying success. One needs only to look at last year’s statistics on supplies of oil and petroleum products from Azerbaijan to Ukraine to see how rapidly they are increasing. Some 1.5 million tonnes of Azerbaijani oil was transported to Ukraine last year alone. This is a new project and the result of active and very effective cooperation between our countries. This question has been under discussion for many years and today it has come to concrete resolution.
A document on the transportation of Azerbaijani liquefied gas to Ukraine was also signed in January this year between the two presidents. We attach great importance to this project and consultations are proceeding today. We have large reserves of gas and we aim to diversify the geography of our supply routes; this, I believe, will also be of importance to our Ukrainian partners.
In other words, today’s discussions and the results of the meeting of the Council of Presidents are very, very impressive. I say again, they are specific, pragmatic and realistic and are based on lasting political and humanitarian ties.
I am very pleased to welcome our friend Viktor Fyodorovych Yanukovych to our country. I recall your last visit to our country, when you were prime minister. Five years have passed since then but throughout that time we have maintained ties and relations. Today these relations are helping in many ways to strengthen relations between our countries.
Once again, Viktor Fyodorovych, welcome.
Statement by President Viktor Yanukovych of Ukraine
- Esteemed Ilham Heydar oglu!
- Esteemed members of the delegations of Ukraine and the Azerbaijani Republic!
The third session of the Council of Presidents of the Azerbaijani Republic and Ukraine has just ended. Before this Ilham Heydar oglu and I discussed many questions in a one-to-one meeting. We were able to discuss in great detail almost the whole spectrum of issues which Ilham Heydar oglu spoke about just now, as well as mechanisms for the implementation of our joint plans. I would like to say, from the bottom of my heart, Ilham Heydar oglu, how pleased I was to see Baku’s new look. As soon as we arrived here we took the opportunity to exchange opinions with our colleagues, because the majority of the people here – like me – have not been here for five years, and we could see for ourselves the progress which has been the subject of various news and statistical reports showing that the Azerbaijani economy has been enjoying very high growth rates year on year. And for us this is a vivid example of how a state administration that has not had to endure sharp domestic or foreign political change can operate effectively. In other words, stability is the basis of a state’s development.
I was, of course, very pleased to see that one component of this stability is Azerbaijan’s policy towards Ukraine. These traditions began with Heydar Aliyev, who, in difficult times for Ukraine, when things were very tough, extended a helping hand. Then, in the 1990s, Azerbaijan helped Ukraine to obtain oil and lubricants which we did not possess and we were able to supply our farms with fuel and, in general, gave our country, as they say, a whiff of oxygen. The Ukrainian people remember this and hold a bright memory of Heydar Aliyev.
The traditions that have been implanted in relations between our countries are continuing. But it would be wrong of us now, when we have such colossal potential between our countries, not to undertake projects to raise substantially the level of economy, which is the basis for improving the lives of our peoples.
Of course the trade turnover we achieved last year is unprecedented in all the years of our countries’ independence. This year Ukraine will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its independence. And so will Azerbaijan. And we provided a vivid lead last year, when trade turnover reached such a level that Ukraine is now Azerbaijan’s second leading partner in trade. This is the second time I have said this today. This is pleasing for us and, of course, it is very important that we have accomplished what you and I set out to do. The Odessa-Brody oil pipeline is finally up and running. Of course, we have fallen short of extending it to the Baltic Sea. We must, surely, think together about how we can complete this task in the near future, and we have been discussing this question with Ilham Heydar oglu. We will be working to ensure that this pipeline reaches the Baltic. I will not talk about the details of our plans, but we are well aware that we are committed to jointly implementing the opportunities which currently exist.
Ilham Heydar oglu has actually anticipated me on many other questions; he has already spoken about a number of them. I can merely add that our joint investment projects, which we agreed to implement together, will operate on a 50-50 basis. These projects will be funded jointly. And this means that the facilities we will build – and it doesn’t matter on whose territory they are built – will be the joint property of our two states – the Azerbaijani Republic and Ukraine. This is the highest level of trust and, of course, I think that it is even more effective to first plan together and then to implement.
The large number of projects that we are currently considering concern not only planning, but also various areas of scientific research, adopting joint decisions in the development of new technology, utilizing our scientific-practical bases and scientific research organizations. We will be doing this very soon. We signed the contracts today. In other words, the consequences of our joint decisions form the basis of the plans that we signed today, up to 2014 or 2015 in various documents.
I would like to express, first of all, our delegation’s huge gratitude for the hospitality you have shown us in Azerbaijan and, of course, for the prompt way decisions have been taken and carried out. This is typical of our bilateral relations.
Of course, a great deal of work to coordinate our joint activities in various international organizations lies ahead. This is very important in conditions of economic globalization and the struggle against various man-made disasters. In this connection, I would like to thank you, Ilham Heydar oglu, and the Azerbaijani people for taking the decision to allocate a million dollars to the Chernobyl Fund for the ‘Refuge’ project at the Chernobyl nuclear power station. This is also a vivid example of how the inseparable link between our peoples manifests itself in grief, if I may put it like that, when the time came and a decision had to be taken that was directly linked to the safety of the people of Ukraine and the tragedy that occurred 25 years ago. Still, today, this is immensely stressful to the Ukrainian people, because we feel responsible not only to our neighbours but also to Europe and the whole world for the consequences of this tragedy. And we know that this project will enable us, from 2015, to really begin to eliminate the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster, in other words, to clear the area where the disaster occurred and extract the remnants of nuclear fuel. Therefore I salute you and say a huge thank-you to the Azerbaijani people. Thank you.
Then the heads of state answered journalists’ questions.
[Q] Esteemed presidents, could you be a little more specific about the agreement on liquefied gas. In particular, is it clear how the terminal will be built in Ukraine? Will this be by investment, or will it be built at the expense of the states? Will Azerbaijan be able to supply this terminal with gas and will it be cost-effective?
[A] President Ilham Aliyev: The document on this project was signed this January during our meeting with Viktor Fyodorovych in Davos. Not very much time has passed and we are now beginning serious consultations on the project. Of course, the questions you ask are of very great importance when it comes to project implementation, because all technical, commercial and legal questions must be resolved. During our discussions we have seen a very strong desire on the part of our Ukrainian partners to implement this project. It was initiated by the Ukrainian side and this shows that Ukraine has a vested interested in carrying it out, as well as in diversifying its sources of supply. That is why we are now holding consultations on this project at ministerial level, as well as with companies, and I think that the outcome of these consultations will be specific proposals and a technical-economic basis which will reflect precisely the areas I have mentioned – the commercial side, supply volumes, transportation and the means of supplying the gas. There are various options here, as you will understand. Therefore we see this project as a long-term one and, for our part, we will be taking an active role in the processes linked with its implementation.
As far as volumes are concerned, it will be sufficient here to quote the figures we have, by that I mean volumes. Proven supplies of natural gas in Azerbaijan amount to 2.2 trillion cu m, investments planned for the near future can be counted in billions, perhaps tens of billions, of dollars and they will enable us to increase extraction. And, naturally, we have a vested interested in diversification of supplies. Today we are supplying gas resources to all our neighbouring countries. Of course, we are interested in increasing supplies to these traditional markets, as well as reaching out to new ones. Just as consumer countries are interested in new sources, so producer countries are interested in new markets. Here the interests of consumers and producers coincide and in our case they coincide fully. Therefore, I think that we will soon be involved in a series of consultations on this subject and then there will be more clarity on this question.
[Q] My question is to both presidents. Cooperation between Azerbaijan and Ukraine in the energy sphere is developing successfully. There also exist great possibilities for the development of relations between our countries in the non-oil sector. How do you assess the prospects for cooperation in this area?
[A] President Ilham Aliyev: We have had vigorous discussions today on these questions and this was also a part of our agenda at the meeting of the Council of Presidents. Of course, questions connected with energy cooperation are of special interest. But we must also diversify our economy and look at the structure of trade turnover. Today, as the co-chairs of the inter-governmental commission informed us, by far the greater part of our exports to Ukraine is oil and petroleum products, which is good in itself. But we, of course, would like the range of our exports to be extended. Especially in view of the fact that great importance is attached in Azerbaijan to the development of the non-oil sector of the economy, the processing industry is developing and industrial production is growing. So, during the meeting of the inter-governmental commission which was held in Baku recently, this question was discussed and specific forms of cooperation will be mapped out.
From today’s discussions, of the specific areas of cooperation in the non-oil sector I would cite cooperation in the military-technical sphere, which I have already mentioned. And we have a number of components here: acquisition, joint production facilities and also joint surveying. We have also discussed today prospects for cooperation in the aerospace sector. Here, Ukraine also has huge tradition and potential and Azerbaijan very much wants to develop this sphere. It is a priority for us, bearing in mind that we have set up an agency for space affairs, we are creating a space industry and we will launch our first telecommunications satellite by the end of next year.
I think that these two areas of the non-oil sector will be dominant. Also, of course, there are great prospects in the production of agricultural goods and produce and the processing industry, and we are thinking about creating joint facilities to broaden the range of exports and imports.
President Viktor Yanukovych: I would like to stress that Ukraine has a very broad spectrum of output in the structure of its exports to Azerbaijan, and these are mainly products with a high level of VAT. They include products in the machine-building and electro-technical industries and those traditional branches of the economy which have linked Ukraine and Azerbaijan for decades. But today we are already considering that some of this output can be produced in Azerbaijan. We have discussed these questions and we will stick to this strategy in the future. In other words, we will build joint enterprises in Azerbaijan, so that in the future this equipment can be serviced and partially produced using Ukrainian components which do not need to be produced in Azerbaijan. But a certain number of components will be manufactured in Azerbaijan.
I say again, the range of our output is very broad. Ilham Heydar oglu has spoken of many things: I would like to add that there is, of course, purpose in discussing the output of agricultural equipment which could be used in Azerbaijan and various types of vehicles which are being produced in Ukraine and are now on stream in Azerbaijan. We can assemble them here, and this will be of interest not only to Azerbaijan, but to the whole Caspian region, which we could supply with this equipment.
Generally speaking, our cooperation is, of course, aimed at ensuring that our economies complement each other and ensuring competitiveness in the traditional areas that exist in our countries. But additionally, of course we are thinking about the potential we have in Ukraine that could be utilized in full measure for our Azerbaijani colleagues and partners. Naturally, we have spoken to Ilham Heydar oglu about Azerbaijan’s existing supplies of output. We have a vested interest in this. We are now building filling stations and we are also discussing the possibility of acquiring and modernizing an oil refinery in Ukraine. This is perfectly realistic and of interest, if we are talking long term. Apart from supplies of raw materials, of course, it is also of interest to process them in Ukraine. That is why the trust and friendly mutual understanding that are at the heart of our relations will to a certain extent determine the speed with which decisions are adopted and fulfilled. I believe that we can increase the pace in the future. Today our relations are on course, and I believe we will stay on course in our relations for a long time to come.