President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek held a joint press conference in Brussels.
Statement by the President of European Parliament Jerzy Buzek
I am very happy to welcome President Aliyev on his first visit to the European Parliament as a president of the country because it never happened before. It is a continuation of our meeting in Baku which was very interesting and fruitful from the point of view of mutual understanding. It is very important because it is about three thousand kilometers from Brussels to Baku. It is a big distance. But we are based absolutely on the same values. We think in the same way. We do have some problems.
We need our association agreement, we need our comprehensive deep free trade area agreement, we need visa facilitation and of course develop our context on the level of parliaments is a delegation. My colleague is here with us with the leader of the delegation to the southern Caucasus and you know this; Eastern partnership which is very important and we think that it will be very important in the future and let me say that I welcome Azerbaijan President Aliyev's decision to release prisoners of conscience, just a few days after our visits to Azerbaijan. Big number of them.
I explained to Mister President that it is very often that we are criticizing countries outside the European Union or sometimes inside the European Union taking into account problems of democracy, media rights or something like that. We are ready to be as tough inside the European Union as outside of this Union.
But it is a quite visible progress from the point of view of relations and also compatibility. We need also compatibility in the economy, Azerbaijan is doing very well, energy is excellent future in front of us especially in such as projects as gas projects similar to the Ceyhan oil pipeline in the past few years ago. It could change completely the situation in the region.
Let me say at the end that European Union and European Parliament pay enormously big attention to the solving of the problem of Nagorno Karabakh. It is the frozen problem in this part of the world. We treat very seriously the Minsk Group activities – France, Russia and the United States. It is also very important to note Madrid criteria. I repeated all of these points to the President and we are ready for assistance and help. If you or Azerbaijan feel it necessary.
So, thank you once again, Mister President. We have been discussing much longer that it was expected. Our journalists had to wait for us. I would like to apologize as a host for the delay. Mister President, please.
Statement by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev
Thank you very much, Mister President. I am glad to see you again. Thank you for invitation to visit the European Parliament and the opportunity to continue our contacts. We met relatively recently in Baku during your visit to Azerbaijan and had a very interesting and productive discussion. That was also a good opportunity for you to know our country better and today we are continuing the dialogue of partners and friends.
I am sure that my visit to the European Union, the European Commission and the European Parliament will play a very important role in development of our future relations. Today, we are united in one very important thing which is to become closer to each other and establish long term strategic partnership relations between European institutions and Azerbaijan that would cover as many areas as possible.
During our today’s discussions, of course, a lot has been devoted to the continuation of political reforms in Azerbaijan, the continuation and strengthening of democratic process and bringing the criteria of political system of Azerbaijan close to criteria of the political system in the European Union member states. Also, economic reforms which are being implemented in Azerbaijan can be successful only if accompanied by political reforms.
We have a very liberal economic legislation which allows us to attract foreign investments. Foreign companies usually invest in the countries with predictable political situation where their investors are duly protected.
Today, we discussed also the issue of regional security. As Mister President mentioned, the resolution of Armenian-Azerbaijani, Nagorno Karabakh conflict is very important not only for Azerbaijan, but for regional development and security because it is the major threat to regional security and stability. We are very encouraged by the statements of leaders of Minsk Group co-chairing countries. Also, today’s statement of President Barroso that the status quo is not acceptable. Today, also, with President Buzek we shared the same views. This is very important statement because we were waiting for this kind of approach for many years. As you know our lands are under occupation for almost 20 years. Hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis are refugees and IDPs in their own territory.
The changing of status quo will lead to the beginning of liberation of Azerbaijani territories, establishment of the Peace Agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan, opening of all communications and return of all refugees and IDPs to the place of regional residence. That will create absolutely new situation in the region of Southern Caucasus, then three countries of Southern Caucasus can jointly work on the issues of political transformation, economic reforms and close contact with European institutions.
Creation of Euronest is one of the important events in the recent history which is line with the general trend of relations between Europe and our region. Eastern Partnership, Euronest, Association Agreement negotiations are the important elements in our co-operation which allows us to be closer to Europe.
Of course, today, we discussed issues of energy security. As President Buzek correctly mentioned, the construction of Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline changes the whole situation in the region. It created a new corridor which is now being used for already gas transportation from Azerbaijan to world markets which started. It creates good conditions for continuation of energy co-operation between Europe and Azerbaijan. During President Barroso’s visit to Azerbaijan in January, we signed the Declaration of Southern Gas Corridor which is actually more than declaration. It has very important points there. We established the joint working group which already works and produces good results. As a country with big energy resources, Azerbaijan wants to be able to realize our potential to transport our energy resources to world markets. Europe, in its turn, needs diversification and more supplies from new sources. Our interests coincide here. Therefore, our co-operation is very broad. Agenda is very substantial. Today’s visit to European Parliament shows once again how important is this relationship important for both of us.
Mister President, thank you once again for hospitality and invitation and for today’s conversation.
Shaig Mammadov, Azerbaijani Television:
My question is for Mister President of the European Parliament. It is obvious that the occupation of Azerbaijani lands by Armenia has led to one million of refugees and IDPs with mass violation of human rights. Isn’t it a high time for the European Parliament to pass an appropriate decision in this respect? Thank you.
President of European Parliament Jerzy Buzek
Well, it is question about our really deep and comprehensive engagement in helping to solve this problem in the nearest future because two important statements are necessary. That all the Madrid criteria should be fulfilled and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan is one of the most important criteria in this case. The European Parliament strongly supports such approach. It is a very good beginning of any discussion. As you know, there will be in the nearest future the meeting in Kazan which is organized by Russia as one of the parties in Minsk Group between Azerbaijan and Armenia. It is a very good signal and sign. In our Euronest, both delegations – ten members of the Parliament of Armenia and ten members of the Parliament of Azerbaijan – could sit side by side to discuss all the problems. Now, two members of our Euronest Assembly will be nominated as co-chairmen of the same working committee. So, it will run everyday activity. Euronest is working. So, we try to bring closer Azerbaijan and Armenia to solve the conflict. It is very important on the parliamentarian level. It will be easier inside the Euronest. So, thanks also to the decision of leaders of Azerbaijani Parliament we could start the Euronest one and a half month ago, in the beginning of May.