After the signing ceremony, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a joint press conference.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Ilham Aliyev made statements for the press.
Statement by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan:
- Dear President Ilham Aliyev!
Dear media representatives!
Ladies and gentlemen!
Let me sincerely salute you all.
At the beginning of my remarks, I would like to express gratitude on my own behalf and on behalf of my country to the 145-people Azerbaijani search and rescue team operating in the province of Van in the aftermath of an earthquake there and to President Ilham Aliyev for issuing an appropriate instruction. Our grateful nation will always remember the brotherly assistance extended to us by Azerbaijan at such a sensitive moment which has saddened us all. In the past week we have experienced deeply painful events. We know that the people of Azerbaijan share in this grief of the Turkish people and experience the same feeling of bereavement.
Dear friends, we discussed Turkish-Azerbaijani relations and regional matters during a meeting with dear President and my brother Ilham Aliyev today. Azerbaijan’s election as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council has made us all feel very proud. We have discussed this too.
We have witnessed truly significant events in the Aliaga settlement today. We have attended both an opening ceremony and a groundbreaking ceremony of an important facility to be established in Turkey on the basis of the most advanced technologies in 2015. A total of 10,000 people will be provided with jobs for the duration of its construction. Afterwards, 1,000 people will have permanent jobs there. This is a $5 billion project. I believe that this investment in Izmir and in Turkey will also benefit the Azerbaijani economy – it will benefit both sides.
Then we had a meeting with the participation of government members to discuss the work done by our ministries.
President Ilham Aliyev, myself and our ministers discussed the work done and what remains to be done. All our important steps for the future are reflected in the agreements signed by our ministers earlier. I do hope that these agreements, these documents will benefit both countries. In addition, of course, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan project is a very important link between Turkey and Azerbaijan. It will be followed by another highly important project, Shah Deniz. The investment in the so-called Iron Silk Way, the historical silk way, the highways linking Nakhchivan with Kars and Iqdir will not only reinforce our moral bonds but also physically open up new opportunities. We are entering a totally new phase in the sphere of air transport. We are exploring air traffic opportunities from various Turkish provinces to Azerbaijan. We have also taken these steps. This is very important for our relations, for the development of our relations. I want to specifically highlight that.
Azerbaijan restored its independence in 1991. We are celebrating the 20th anniversary of your independence and are very pleased that Turkey is the first to congratulate Azerbaijan on this occasion.
I do hope we will still have many more anniversaries to celebrate. We want this independence of the Azerbaijani people to be eternal. Because there is a truly changing and modernizing Azerbaijan. Every time I visit Azerbaijan, I see a different and better Azerbaijan. And this, of course, is a testament to the fact that Azerbaijan is rapidly developing as a modern country and that it has made great progress in these 20 years. This makes both our Azerbaijani brothers and ourselves very proud. This is evidence of the successful policies carried out by the late Heydar Aliyev, President Ilham Aliyev and the government. I would like to specifically congratulate my brother Ilham Aliyev on this occasion.
We have completed the first meeting of the Turkish-Azerbaijani Council on high-level strategic cooperation today. The next meeting of it will be held in Azerbaijan. But along with all this, we are eagerly waiting for the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. I believe that the solution of this conflict will create conditions for a completely different development in the region. This is not only Azerbaijan’s pain and hardship, it is also the pain and hardship for Turkey and the entire Turkic world.
I would like to thank the esteemed President, all members of the delegation and all our friends who have contributed to the meeting today. The second meeting and a civil society forum will, Insha’Allah, be held in Azerbaijan next year. I believe that the agenda of the Azerbaijan meeting will be even broader and be based on a different experience. I do hope that the meeting of the Turkish-Azerbaijani Council on high-level strategic cooperation will be mutually beneficial. Now the floor is given to esteemed President Ilham Aliyev.
Statement by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev
- Thank you, dear brother!
Dear ladies and gentlemen!
First of all, I would like to express my condolences to all the people of Turkey on behalf of the Azerbaijani people over the heavy human loss inflicted by a terrible earthquake that hit Turkey two days ago. As always, Azerbaijan stands by Turkey at this difficult moment. May those killed in the earthquake rest in peace. We wish a speedy recovery to those wounded and patience to the next of kin of the killed and wounded.
It is a memorable day in the history of Turkish-Azerbaijani relations today. First of all because we have held the first meeting of the Turkish-Azerbaijani Council on high-level strategic cooperation. We have held this meeting in one of Turkey’s most beautiful corners, in Izmir. I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to visit Izmir. Earlier, I visited different parts, different cities of Turkey, and today I have come to Izmir. I can say that I feel perfectly at home anywhere in Turkey, and I am sure that our Turkish brothers also feel at home when visiting Azerbaijan.
My dear brother Prime Minister has mentioned that it is indeed a very important day for Turkish-Azerbaijani relations. The days we are spending together mark the 20th anniversary of Azerbaijan’s independence. These 20 years of independence have also been 20 years of Turkish-Azerbaijani brotherhood. Turkey was the first country to recognize us as an independent state. Turkey was close to us at our most difficult moments in the first years of our independence, in the most difficult years for us. And this is still the case today. This friendship and brotherhood will live forever. Our peoples have a common history, a common culture. This is a very strong foundation. Our countries are bound together by love and genuine affinity. We are bound together by strategic partnership.
Over the course of 20 years Turkey and Azerbaijan have managed to build a relationship of rare alliance. We act as friends and brothers in all areas. Today we have elevated this alliance to a new format. The meeting of the Strategic Cooperation Council and its results show that Turkey and Azerbaijan will continue to be together for decades to come.
The documents signed and the agreements reached today represent a kind of a recommendation for the subsequent period. The implementation of these documents will bring our countries even closer together, our cooperation in political, economic and all other spheres will further deepen. We discuss all political matters equally, our views on international issues always overlap. I would like to thank all the people of Turkey headed by my brother Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for Turkey’s fair and brotherly stance on the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. The people of Azerbaijan appreciate this fraternal attitude and Turkey’s support in our fair cause. Azerbaijan has always stood by Turkey on all matters, too. In particular, Azerbaijan is always close to Turkey in the solution of its most difficult problem, the problem of terrorism. Azerbaijan is always on Turkey’s side in its legitimate fight against terror and terrorists, we always support and defend all of Turkey’s actions in this respect. And this must be the case because we are brothers. At the same time, we are in favor of justice. We want peace, stability and security to be established in the entire region and people to live in a friendly atmosphere. This is our intention and the steps we are taking reinforce this policy.
The Petkim project is the biggest investment project in the history of Azerbaijan to date. Azerbaijan has not implemented such significant projects requiring tremendous financial resources in 20 years. This project will be implemented in Turkey because it is our native homeland. The implementation of the project in Turkey will strengthen both Azerbaijan and Turkey and reinforce our positions in the region and the world.
At the same time, I would like to note that we are very pleased with Turkey’s successes of recent years. Turkey is a global power center, a strong state. Turkey has a very strong government. Turkey has covered a great and successful road in the 10 years under the leadership of my brother Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Despite the ongoing global recession, the Turkish economy is developing successfully. The achievements I have witnessed here are very gratifying. Our relations are multifaceted. We have discussed some aspects of these relations. We have discussed energy, transport, economic and humanitarian issues at the Council meeting. This is a first meeting, and such meetings will be conducted on a regular basis, at least once a year. The next meeting will be held in Azerbaijan. We must try to develop an even broader cooperation format at subsequent meetings. I am very glad that members of our delegation and the esteemed ministers have established effective relations. This will enable us to successfully implement the agreements reached today.
With regard to the energy issues, the documents on the energy and gas sector signed today will open up new opportunities and horizons for us, lay the foundation for a successful and long-term cooperation. I am sure that this cooperation will benefit our peoples and other friendly states.
I would like to thank my dear brother Prime Minister for the hospitality members of our delegation and myself have enjoyed in Turkey. I want to reiterate that we in Azerbaijan attach exceptional importance to Turkish-Azerbaijani relations. These relations are strengthening and must continue to strengthen. There is a great road ahead of us. We have worked as true allies for 20 years. And Turkey and Azerbaijan will continue to move only forward as two fraternal nations, two fraternal states. Thank you.
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Then journalists’ questions were answered.
Elvin Movsumov (Azerbaijan State Telegraph Agency AzerTAj): I have a question to the esteemed Prime Minister. What can you say about the future of non-energy cooperation and mutual investment between Azerbaijan and Turkey?
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan: Thank you very much. Of course, in addition to energy, we have relations in the military, trade and especially tourism sectors. These relations had a turnover of about $2.5 billion in late 2008. This, of course, is an indicator for the whole year. In 10 months of this year the figure has reached $2.4 billion. At some point the global economic crisis had an impact on the turnover, but it has picked up and it appears that at the end of this year we will exceed the indicator for late 2008.
Of course, our goal is to go much farther. Considering the steps we will take in the energy and military spheres – in our earlier statement figure three was mentioned – I think that this figure does not reflect the current potential of our countries. I believe our potential is higher and think that we will realize it in 2012. We will work hand-in-hand to create a new foundation. The steps we are taking today and the investment will lead to a serious leap forward.
Najaf Hasanov (Khazar TV): First I want to ask whether the issues discussed and the decisions made at the Council on high-level strategic cooperation will have any impact on the solution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh? Another question is regarding the Nabucco project which is of interest to both Azerbaijan and Turkey. The European Union is interested in the project, but certain countries are saying that “it is first necessary to resolve the Caspian status issue for the Nabucco project to be considered”. I would like to find out your attitude to this issue. Thank you.
President Ilham Aliyev: There are quite a few issues on the agenda today. Unfortunately, due to time constraints we could not discuss them all. But if I list the issues discussed, you will see that we have quite an extensive agenda. We have discussed our political relations, expressed our attitude to international affairs and reiterated that Turkey and Azerbaijan should act and speak with one voice on international affairs. We had a broad exchange on military cooperation. Thanks to the advancement of joint initiatives to develop the military and industrial complex, a new situation is emerging. Our cooperation in this area will lead to growing trade and meet the needs of Azerbaijan.
Today, the ministers informed us about the current economic situation. It was even pointed out which companies do what. We are very pleased that Turkish companies both invest in Azerbaijan and participate in various projects.
Energy issues, the Southern gas corridor, of course, have also been discussed. We did not forget humanitarian issues either. Today, our two female ministers have presented very interesting data on this issue. So both the progress and outcomes of the Council have been very positive. Of course, transportation issues did not go unnoticed either. We also spoke about issues relating to the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, air and automobile transport.
Although these discussions did not directly affect the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, they have brought Turkey and Azerbaijan even closer together. We are uniting our forces and, of course, the stronger we become, the easier it will be to resolve our problems.
With regard to Nabucco and other projects, I can say that Azerbaijan is making a contribution to the Southern gas corridor. Our initiatives, the pipelines built, the discovery of new gas sources, our excellent history of cooperation with Turkey and the documents signed with the European Union portray Azerbaijan in the world as a reliable potential exporter. I do hope that after the implementation of the documents signed on the issue today, Azerbaijani gas will be transported to Turkey and to Europe through Turkey on an even larger scale.
Deniz Kilisoglu (CNN Turk): Dear Prime Minister, I think that the documents signed include the agreement Turkey had eagerly been waiting for a long time – the “Shah Deniz-2” agreement. Can you provide details of the agreement? How much gas is to be purchased? How much will be transferred to Europe and will Turkey have the right to resell the gas? I would be very grateful if you could provide detailed information. Thank you.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan: Of course, our energy ministers carry on discussions on the “Shah Deniz” agreement. Hard work is also under way on the construction of a line here. It is envisaged to complete design work associated with construction of the line within a year. Afterwards, steps relating to other issues will be taken. The issues of how much gas will be exported to Europe, issues of supply and demand will be discussed in upcoming meetings with the Azerbaijani side and a decision made.
These issues were not part of our agenda. They issues will be clarified after the discussions between the two energy ministers and between SOCAR and BOTAŞ.
Arda Yavuz (Star newspaper): I have a question that is not associated with Azerbaijan. But Mr. President has also noted that Turkey has a known problem with terror and that his country will always support Turkey in the fight against it. About an hour and a half or two hours ago, the web sites of news agencies circulated the following report: BBC’s Iraq correspondent in Iraq published a report that Turkish Armed Forces have eliminated about 1,300-1,400 PKK terrorists. This information has also been published by international media. What is your assessment? Is this figure accurate? Also, there is an appeal by Murad Karayilan to the Kurdish regime of Northern Iraq. It calls for not supporting Turkey. Iran has also struggled with PEJAK. Several days ago Iranian foreign minister visited Turkey. What kind of support does Turkey get from Iran and the regional regime of northern Iraq in connection with terror?
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan: Dear friends, first of all, the figures released by the BBC and other sources are not serious. They are not serious and groundless. It is not known where they have taken them. You know that we have a statement of the General Staff on this. A total of 54 terrorists were neutralized in Cuxurca over the course of five days. In addition, it is assumed that 200-270 terrorists were eliminated in operations carried out outside the borders. Of course, what happened in Cuxurca is clear, while the number of those neutralized as a result of air operations is based on assumptions made using technical possibilities.
In addition, the figure released by the BBC is not confirmed by the General Staff. I emphasize that this cannot be a subject of discussion. Another issue: allegations that tanks have crossed the border are also wide of the mark. This cannot even be discussed. This expression has also been made by our source. A normal operation was carried out at the border. I find it hard to understand how our friends see this operation beyond the boundaries. There is nothing extraordinary there. But there is a misunderstanding. Earlier, in our meetings with representatives of the media, editors and managers, we discussed this issue and stressed the importance of spreading reliable information. We said that if you pay attention to the statements of the General Staff, the Armed Forces and the Prime Minister, then we will not give the public inaccurate information. And we are telling relevant structures to prevent misrepresentation and misinformation. If we are sensitive to this issue, there will be a very positive result. We will continue the process with the same level of sensitivity. But as I said, we will continue the fight against terrorism and our policy debates. This is how we understand this. Thank you.