After the awards ceremony, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov made statements for the press.
Statement by President Ilham Aliyev
- Dear Mr. President!
Dear guests, ladies and gentlemen!
Mr. President, let me salute you in Azerbaijan again!
You are a close friend of Azerbaijan. You have repeatedly visited our country, and every time we meet our friendship has a positive impact on bilateral relations. We have had a broad exchange both in a one-on-one format and with the participation of delegations, discussed important issues and seen again that Azerbaijani-Bulgarian relations are developing very rapidly and successfully.
We see each other practically every year. We have regular contacts, these relations are very important for the development of Azerbaijan-Bulgarian cooperation. The issues we discuss subsequently turn into decisions and play a positive role in the development of our cooperation. In recent years our bilateral relations have risen to new heights. Political relations are at a very high level. We also cooperate successfully in all international organizations. We have succeeded in developing our political ties and the relations in other spheres.
Looking at this year’s statistics, we see that our turnover is growing. In fact, there is a significant growth. I am sure it will grow even more in the years ahead and the structure of trade will also improve. Thus, political ties are having a positive impact on the economic sphere.
One of the issues we discussed today was energy cooperation. This topic is always on our agenda. I am very pleased that our exchange on this matter has a qualitatively different content now because Azerbaijan’s energy resources are already exported to Europe. Even larger volumes of Azerbaijani oil are exported to European countries, including Bulgaria. At the same time, new opportunities have been created to supply Azerbaijani gas to Europe. The transit documents recently signed between Turkey and Azerbaijan are making these opportunities a reality.
So I am sure that Azerbaijani-Bulgarian relations in the gas sector will be even more intense in the coming years and these ties will gradually deepen. I am sure that consistent and effective steps will be taken at the next stage to facilitate mutual investment and create joint ventures. We have exchanged views about this too. There are no disagreements between us on this issue.
As regards the energy sector, we cooperate in a bilateral format, our respective companies are in talks with each other. At the same time, a positive role in this is also played by the relationship between the European Union and Azerbaijan. As you know, the European Union and Azerbaijan signed the Declaration on the Southern Gas Corridor earlier this year.
Then a working group was set up. The group is now working and I am sure that this cooperation will become even more comprehensive at the next stage. Azerbaijan is making effort to implement the Southern Gas Corridor. Our major gas reserves are and will be providing for the energy security of Azerbaijan. At the same time, they play a role in the energy security for our partners. I am sure that in the coming years cooperation in this and other areas will be even more successful.
At the same time, Bulgaria has also made effort to develop the relations between the European Union and Azerbaijan. Bulgaria has always had a positive approach to our initiatives in this area. I think that we are at a very important stage now, which is associated with a further development of relations between the European Union and Azerbaijan. We are now in the process of establishing a long-term relationship. I am absolutely sure that these relations will rest on a strong and sound foundation and ensure our mutual interests. In order to ensure our mutual interests, we must certainly be very accurate in this matter. It is at this stage that the foundation for a long-term cooperation is being laid, possibly for decades to come. I can say that we are approaching this issue with very high hopes and optimism. At present, Azerbaijan, has established businesslike and warm bilateral relations with all EU member-countries. These relations have a positive impact on the development of relations between the European Union and Azerbaijan as a whole.
Of course, a significant portion of our discussions today was dedicated to issues of regional security. I informed you about the current situation in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. This issue has repeatedly been the subject of our discussions. We exchange views on this matter practically every time we meet. I want to repeat that Azerbaijan is making effort to resolve the issue as soon as possible. Azerbaijan considers that only a solution in line with international law is acceptable. The decisions and resolutions of international organizations must be unconditionally fulfilled. The UN Security Council has passed four resolutions demanding an unconditional withdrawal of Armenian forces from occupied lands. The European Parliament has passed a similar resolution with the support of the Bulgarian side. The Council of Europe, the OSCE and other international organizations have expressed their positions on this issue.
Azerbaijan's territorial integrity is recognized by the whole world. Azerbaijan's territorial integrity is not and cannot be negotiable. The issue must be resolved in line with international law and the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. We hope the talks will yield fruit, because it is impossible to accept the current situation. The Minsk Group co-chair countries directly dealing with the issue have made serious statements on the unacceptability of the status quo. These statements inspire us further. I am sure that a speedy solution to this problem would meet the interests of all countries.
Mr. President, let me warmly welcome you to Azerbaijan again. I want to repeat that we see you as a close friend of Azerbaijan and this friendship has a long history. I am sure that in subsequent periods Azerbaijani-Bulgarian relations will only be on an upward trend. Thank you.
Statement by Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov
- Dear Mr. President!
Ladies and gentlemen!
I would like to express my satisfaction with the talks we have held. I am sure that they will contribute positively to the development of our relations in the future. I fully agree with President Aliyev that the relations between our two countries have good traditions. These relations have evolved since the past. In recent years we have continued this policy and it has yielded good results.
I think that the political dialogue between us can also be attributed to other spheres. We can see active contacts between our ministries and parliaments. Our relations gradually develop, new documents are signed. This in itself is a positive signal. This is work done for our peoples, a signal for our societies. It is important for me that the business people of both countries are ready to increase our trade, although it is not at the desired level yet. We do hope that our talks will lay the foundation for joint ventures which will access the markets of third countries in the future. I think can do this after consultations with various ministries. Of course, various economic players can join this.
The energy sector remains very important for our relations. This also applies to the relations between Azerbaijan and the European Union. The work Azerbaijan has carried out in recent years opens up new opportunities and prospects for the Southern Gas Corridor. Bulgaria, in turn, has a special position and plays a positive role in these relations. In fact, we strive to develop our relations even more than the relations between Azerbaijan and the European Union. These relations have a long history. We are working hard on them. During press conferences we are reminded of our agreement regarding one billion cubic meters of gas. We also want to implement the project linking Bulgaria and Greece. During our talks we noted that such a large company as the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan can work on the territory of Bulgaria after this project.
In my opinion, there are good opportunities for our cooperation. This is part of large work on diversification. We simply must succeed to demonstrate to Europe what we can achieve. After that we can achieve more comprehensive results, put forward new ideas on the Southern Gas Corridor. We have discussed specific issues that may become part of our economic cooperation.
I am glad that there is a will and a desire to expand the dialogue and communication in the field of intercultural exchanges. Bulgaria and Azerbaijan play important parts in their respective regions, I would even say the leading part in the intercultural dialogue. We also indicated that this mutual cultural activity in the Balkan region can be carried out not only with the Black Sea region, but also with countries of the Caspian region. I would be very glad, Mr. President, if other countries of this region also joined this idea, worked on it. We could thus demonstrate that there is a history and it is important for the future of our regions. We can do this work together.
With regard to Europe, I appreciate the intensifying dialogue between Azerbaijan and the European Union. This dialogue is part of the Eastern Partnership. At the same time, there is another idea. I have shared it with some of my colleagues in the European Union, informed European leaders about it. I have talked about it here. My presidential mandate is about to end. I have suggested giving Azerbaijan the status of a privileged partner in European institutions and member states because this is a framework in which it is possible to discuss not only energy security, but also to extend this dialogue to other areas – transport, economy and security in a broader sense. Because Azerbaijan is a very important element, an important element in the democratic states and nations we are building, an important factor in global security. We are facing the same challenges. This is important for both the European Union and its neighbors, partner countries. Therefore, we must strive to work together using more modern methods. I am absolutely sure that after the European Union has resolved its internal problems, it will find more accurate and acceptable solutions in the near future.
Of course, I cannot describe the entire agenda of our talks here. But I want to say that these talks, agreements, the documents we have signed, the arrangements to be made and the documents to be signed in the future will contribute to the development of our relations.
Х Х Х
Then the Presidents answered questions from journalists.
Х Х Х
Dimitar Anestev (Bulgarian TV): Mr. President, you have discussed the supplies of Azerbaijani gas to Bulgaria. Can you tell us about the volume and route of these supplies?
My next question is to President Parvanov. Does it mean that these supplies will reduce the dependence on Russia?
President Ilham Aliyev: We have repeatedly exchanged views with President Parvanov on this. This issue is always on our agenda. As I said, Azerbaijan has launched various initiatives to supply its rich natural gas resources to world markets. At present, we have four pipelines linking Azerbaijan with foreign markets, and all four are in operable condition. Of course, our gas cooperation with the European Union has excellent prospects. If we look at the map, we can see that Bulgaria is one of the closest countries to our gas resources. Naturally, Bulgaria can become one of the first countries to take our gas. To achieve this, we are conducting specific talks now.
Suffice it to look at the map to see that this project can be easily implemented. In order to deliver large volumes of Azerbaijan’s rich gas resources to Europe, the existing infrastructure should be extended and a new gas infrastructure created and built. Serious work is under way right now. I am sure that Azerbaijan can meet Bulgaria’s needs for gas to whatever extent Bulgaria wants because at present, this year's gas production in Azerbaijan is at the level of almost 27-28 billion cubic meters. This is a very large figure. As a result of the second phase of the Shah Deniz project, a further 17 billion cubic meters of gas is expected. If we add to this the fields Azerbaijan has discovered in the past year, we can see that gas production in Azerbaijan is measured by even greater numbers. This will enable us to ensure the energy security of our partners for many years.
President Georgi Parvanov: Ladies and gentlemen, you know that it will depend on the decisions we make in Bulgaria and the solutions we find with our Azerbaijani partners. These are issues relating to both the supplies and volumes of gas. I want to point to another important issue: the agreements between Turkey and Azerbaijan have already created the framework to accelerate this process – the process of gas purchases. The volumes will be calculated at the Ministry of Economy, by our government in general, because we need to calculate how much natural gas we need. So this is not the calculation conducted solely in the office of president. As for the prices, I would say, perhaps even going beyond all the rules, that this is a matter for specific companies and firms. There is no need for any comparisons. I just want to say that even a small success would be symbolic not only for our region, but also for Europe. Therefore, it is up to us to retain the pace and dynamics of this cooperation.
Yunis Oruj (Azerbaijan TV): My question is to the President of Bulgaria. Mr. President, you mentioned a short while ago that the Azerbaijani-Bulgarian cooperation has been noted for dynamic development in recent years. What are the prospects for this cooperation in your view? In general, what can you say about the future format of the Azerbaijani-Bulgarian economic cooperation? Does the Bulgarian side have any specific plans in this regard?
President Georgi Parvanov: I am optimistic about the future of our relations. At the same time, I think that as President I have sought to develop these relations. And now I am passing the baton to the next president. The development of these relations is in the interests of our countries. The Bulgarian Minister of Economy is paying his second visit to Azerbaijan in the recent period, and the discussions held here are based on the actual scope, real projects and real steps. I am optimistic. Why? Because we have already raised this cooperation to the level of companies. I would even say that we expect to achieve concrete results as part of our visit. Of course, we must understand that this dynamic can also be maintained by the structures led by the President of Bulgaria. The future President has already pledged to promote the achievements and relations with Azerbaijan. I have no doubt about that. I would even be very happy if our relations developed more rapidly in the future than during my presidency.