12 march 2012, 13:30
Press conference of the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Croatia was held
After the signing ceremony, a press conference of President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and President of the Republic of Croatia Ivo Josipović was held.
First the Presidents made statements.
Statement by President Ilham Aliyev
Dear Mr. President!
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen!
Mr. President, first of all, I would like to welcome you to Azerbaijan. I am very glad that you have come to our country with a large delegation and representatives of business circles. We will have a meeting with them today. I am sure that this visit will play an important part in the development of our relations and in the expansion of our bilateral ties.
The relations between our countries are developing very successfully. As I mentioned in our discussion earlier, Croatia was the first country of your region in which Azerbaijan opened its Embassy. This attests to the fact that the relations between our countries are developing well. I am very pleased with the positive dynamic and potential of our relations. Our political relations are excellent. We cooperate within the framework of international institutions. Azerbaijan takes an active part in the programs being implemented with the participation of NATO and cooperates with the European Union. I would like to congratulate you on the issue of your country’s membership in the European Union. I am sure that even as a member of the European Union Croatia will continue supporting Azerbaijan in its integration into European institutions.
We have discussed issues pertaining to our bilateral relations, political and economic ties. I am sure that our delegations will continue their discussions. There is a strong relationship between us. We should also note that economic cooperation between us is not yet at the desired level. The same holds true for our trade. I think it is the energy sector that may contribute to increasing the volume of our trade. I am sure that our business people can help us achieve these goals. From this standpoint, we encourage Azerbaijani companies to invest in Croatia. I do hope that other members of the delegation will also hold consultations in this respect.
We will have a broad economic and political cooperation. This may take place largely after our plans are implemented.
With regard to some traditional areas, we have conducted discussions, the Azerbaijan Caspian Shipping Company intends to buy vessels from Croatia. We are aware that you have such opportunities. And this is yet another measure of our relations. Also, I think we need to continue thinking what other areas we can work together in. Azerbaijan is seeking new investment markets – both public and private investment markets. We would welcome the operation of Croatian companies in Azerbaijan as investors and contractors, as our partners. Azerbaijan’s business opportunities will be presented in an event due to be held today. Information will be provided about the implementation of the state investment program.
In other words, all these components will support our common ideas and partnership between our countries. This partnership is important not only for our countries but also for our regions. The Caucasus, Caspian and Balkan regions have good opportunities for a close economic and political cooperation and integration. From this standpoint, Azerbaijan can play a very important part.
We have also discussed regional security issues. I have briefed Mr. President on the talks over the resolution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijani territories have been under occupation for 20 years now despite four UN Security Council resolutions demanding an immediate withdrawal of Armenian troops from Azerbaijani territory. The Armenians have carried out a policy of ethnic cleansing against the Azerbaijanis. As a result, more than a million of our fellow countrymen have become refugees and IDPs. We have made it clear to the OSCE Minsk Group co-chair countries that this status quo is unacceptable. We hope that an end will be put to the occupation of our lands and the aggressor will be forced to stop the aggression.
We have also discussed our energy cooperation. In essence, it is contributing a lot to our trade. We have also discussed our future gas cooperation. I am sure that members of your delegation will continue these discussions. Because Azerbaijan is diversifying its gas transit routes and European markets are very important to us in this sense.
Thank you very much, Mr. President!
Dear members of delegations, distinguished guests!
The Croatian side is very grateful to you for this warm welcome. We feel very much at home and among friends here. As indicated earlier, the political relations between our countries are excellent. So our objective now is to develop our economic cooperation. This is why we have come to Azerbaijan with such a broad delegation. Mr. Čačić is a member of our government and First Deputy Prime Minister. He deals specifically with economic affairs. I am also very pleased that we will attend a forum of our investors, contractors and business managers. These people want to cooperate and some of them are already negotiating cooperation opportunities with the government of Azerbaijan and Azerbaijani enterprises.
You have also touched upon the issue of conflicts in the present-day world. The Nagorno-Karabakh is not the only conflict, there are many others. In Croatia, we also experienced the occupation of our lands during war. I am very pleased that your approach is focused on a negotiated settlement to the conflict. I am well aware that there can be no relationships, trade or economic, in the absence of peace. Our delegations will examine a number of issues, not just those related to economic cooperation but also others.
The three agreements we signed today are highly important for our future cooperation. We hope they will contribute to the strengthening of our relations. We are very interested in cooperating in the tourism sector. We are currently witnessing a tourist inflow not only from Europe, but also from Eastern Europe and the East. We would be happy to see our Azerbaijani friends in Croatia too.
The highly important issues we have discussed relate not only to economic cooperation but also to cultural ties. Mutual understanding in the cultural sphere is important for the development of both political and economic ties.
Thank you very much for your hospitality. I appreciate your efforts to further improve our relations and develop our economic cooperation.
Thank you very much!
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Then the Presidents answered questions from journalists.
X X X
- Dragan Nikolić (Croatian TV): Your Excellencies, I have a question for Croatian President Ivo Josipović. Considering Azerbaijan’s energy potential as a supplier of gas to the European Union and Croatia, has there been any discussion regarding the purchase of Azerbaijani gas?
President of Croatia Ivo Josipović: Yes, we have discussed not only this issue but also the entire energy agenda. First Deputy Prime Minister Čačić has also taken part in these discussions. We want to expand these areas of future cooperation. We are aware of the already beginning energy supplies to Europe. We are interested in participating in these projects. Some members of our delegation will have meetings with government officials today. I want to note that First Deputy Prime Minister Čačić will have a meeting with the minister of economic development of Azerbaijan. All this is important for us.
- Shaig Mammadov (Azerbaijan TV): I have a question for both Presidents. What specific areas in Croatia can Azerbaijan invest in?
President Ilham Aliyev: We have discussed this issue with Mr. President. I believe members of our delegations will discuss it more broadly. I have informed Mr. President that Azerbaijan is currently diversifying its financial resources. We already have plans and have practically started to invest outside Azerbaijan. Our countries and enterprises have already earned a good reputation. I have told Mr. President that we always have our investment plans approved by the governments of the countries we are investing in. I have also informed Mr. President that our investment is usually linked to important social projects.
Because in order to have good business opportunities, our potential investors, our companies must enjoy public support. This stems from the fact that Azerbaijani companies have a good reputation. Because they should also consider the social demand of the communities in which they operate. We will certainly coordinate our investment plans and conduct consultations on the sectors to be invested.
We think the energy sector can be interesting. We have experience in this sphere. The investment we have made in the energy sectors of other countries shows that we are highly responsible investors and this investment not only helps our companies to diversify their investment portfolios but also benefits our countries.
Another important sphere is agriculture. Obviously there is the tourism sector as well. We have discussed it, there are plans to be implemented. As regards the Balkans, I mentioned earlier that Croatia was the first country of the region in which we opened our Embassy. We would like to channel our investment in this sector too.
I have identified only the priority areas, of course. But I think these issues will be discussed during the business forum. This event will also provide us with information on other areas – what investment opportunities, what legislative opportunities there are. I am sure this business forum will clarify many areas to serve our mutual interests.
As I mentioned earlier, there are Croatian companies cooperating with Azerbaijan, especially in shipbuilding. There is one Croatian company working in your country now. I do hope that it will have broader opportunities. I think both Azerbaijani companies in Croatia and Croatian companies in Azerbaijan will enjoy favorable conditions. I think both parties can acknowledge that. Azerbaijan is creating such opportunities for its business partners. Thank you very much.
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