Statement of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev:
Dear Mr. President!
Let me cordially welcome you to Azerbaijan!
Mr. President, your visit represents tremendous importance for the development of Bulgarian-Azerbaijani relations. I am sure that the results of this visit will further promote our ties. Our relations have a very solid foundation. We are successfully cooperating in different spheres. This cooperation is broadening and deepening by the day. Our political relations are at a high level, which is confirmed by mutual visits, namely high-level visits. We have regular meetings, conduct exchanges of opinion in Azerbaijan, Bulgaria and other countries. I am very pleased that all organizations and ministries have established very effective relations.
In other words, the durability of political relations is giving a powerful impetus to the development of relations in different spheres. We discussed practically all issues on the agenda today and saw again that our bilateral agenda is very extensive and multifaceted. We have a great potential in the economic sphere. I do hope that in the coming years this potential is fully materialized. Mutual investment projects, creation of joint ventures and joint economic activity will further strengthen our relations.
Today we have extensively discussed our energy contacts. There are wonderful prospects in this sphere and some specific steps have already been taken. Bulgaria and Azerbaijan signed a memorandum in the gas sphere in Sofia last year, and a working group has already held a number of meetings as part of that. These meetings are very reassuring. We have discussed these issues more broadly today. I am sure that cooperation between Bulgaria and Azerbaijan in the gas sector will be very successful, secure the interests of our countries and contribute a lot to regional cooperation because the oil and gas projects launched and being successfully implemented by Azerbaijan have already reached regional proportions. These projects represent tremendous importance for the energy security of the region and Europe.
Azerbaijan intends to fully realize its energy potential. To do that, we certainly need new directions, new markets. I am sure that consumers are also interested in new sources. Therefore, our interests in this sphere overlap. I am sure that the instructions we have issued today will facilitate cooperation in this sphere. Thus, a very successful and long-term energy cooperation between Bulgaria and Azerbaijan will be ensured.
Today we have discussed Azerbaijan’s existing relations with the European Union and European institutions. Bulgaria is playing a positive role in the deepening of cooperation between Azerbaijan and European institutions. We value this role very highly. We do hope that thanks to the implementation of the Eastern Partnership program the relations between Azerbaijan and the European Union will elevate to a higher level.
The European Parliament’s recent resolution on the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Upper Qarabag is viewed very positively in Azerbaijan. The resolution is fair, it discloses the essence of the conflict and contains specific proposals on the withdrawal of occupying forces from Azerbaijani lands. As you may be aware, our lands have been under the control of Armenian occupiers for many years. Azerbaijanis have been exposed to a policy of ethnic cleansing. Twenty per cent of our territory has been under occupation for years. As a result of this occupation, over a million Azerbaijani citizens became refugees and IDPs in their native lands. We want this issue to be resolved as soon as possible on the basis of resolutions and decisions of international organizations and within the framework of international law. Every new decision, namely the resolution by the European Parliament and other organizations, further strengthens our position and provides support for a fair solution of the issue. We also appreciate the participation of Bulgarian representatives in the adoption of the said resolution.
In other words, Bulgaria holds a special place in the relations between the European Union and Azerbaijan. We have always received support from Bulgaria. We can feel this support today too. We have extensively discussed different spheres of our cooperation today. I want to repeat that our positions on all the matters we have discussed overlap, we have common goals. We want bilateral relations to develop rapidly, so that regional cooperation, the cooperation between Caspian Sea and Black Sea regions, is more successful, there are peace and security in the region, all political and economic processes develop in a positive direction and the situation in this region, namely the security measures, are further invigorated.
I am sure that your visit will be successful and its results will facilitate the development of Bulgarian-Azerbaijani relations. Dear Mr. President, let me welcome you to Azerbaijan again!
Х Х Х
Statement of Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov:
Dear Mr. President!
I would like to sincerely thank you for the invitation and hospitality we have enjoyed. I am very pleased with the negotiations held. Our countries have traditionally friendly relations. Today we have the opportunity to lend new meaning, new quality to these relations. I think that these relations can serve as an example of ties between a European Union member-state and a state of your region.
Mr. President, you have mentioned our relations with different European institutions. We would like to point to the factors which have contributed to our relations. I think we can conduct correct and positive analysis of the trade between our countries and review its new structure. From this standpoint, we expect broader cooperation between ministries and specialized institutions. Today’s talks can certainly give an impetus to the investment process. This can further bolster mutual investment interest. We have discussed these issues as well. I do hope that they make it to the agenda of relevant institutions and ministries.
I am also giving a positive assessment to our talks in the energy sector. In this respect our relations are developing well, there are positive results. We are pleased with the opportunity Bulgaria has acquired to receive one billion cubic meters of Azerbaijani gas. This is a very positive fact, and cooperation in this sphere will begin next year. I think that this will be an important contribution to the energy security of my country.
At the same time, while working actively, we are giving a positive assessment to the activity of a joint working group. There is a plan to deliver compressed gas from Azerbaijan to Europe through Bulgaria. I would like to highlight that whereas our first project is of bilateral nature, the project on compressed gas may have regional implications. I think this will contribute a lot to diversifying energy resources and their transit routes. It may also benefit Azerbaijan. Therefore, Azerbaijan will obtain direct access to European energy markets.
Without going into detail, I would like to indicate that the working group is focusing on specific issues – transit volumes, natural gas transportation routes. I want to highlight that different organizations are involved in this project.
I am also giving a positive assessment to President Ilham Aliyev pointing to cooperation in other spheres, including security. I would also like to mention our cooperation in science, education and culture. We have good opportunities and prospects in these spheres.
Let me indicate that our relations are increasingly reflecting European nuances. Bulgaria, as a member of European institutions, will take part in developing a policy towards this region, namely towards friendly Azerbaijan. We will do our best to lend more meaning and content to different initiatives, most notably the Eastern Partnership. We are doing that to enable the peoples living here to feel that their problems are the focus of attention for Europe, namely from the standpoint of the energy sector.
I would also like to note that by interacting with European institutions, we provide necessary support to the Minsk Group dealing with the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Upper Qarabag. We want this conflict, as Mr. President stated, to be resolved as soon as possible because this could contribute to the successful development of the South Caucasus. We will continue providing our support to the Minsk Group and other institutions. We will continue to do that in the future.
In conclusion, I would like to express, on my own behalf and on behalf of our delegation, our satisfaction with the fact that all the issues agreed will be materialized in the foreseeable future. Therefore, a new European criterion of our relations will emerge.
Thank you very much, Mr. President.