03 september 2010, 15:50
Press conference of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev
The signing ceremony of Azerbaijani-Russian documents was followed by a press conference of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev
In his statement, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said:
In other words, our relations are multifaceted and diverse. They cover almost all spheres. Most importantly, following the signing of the Agreement on the state border, there are no other unresolved issues in our relations. The fact that this Agreement was signed in an official ceremony in Baku today is further evidence of how sincere our relations and intentions are. This agreement is an important milestone in our relations. There are projects issues ahead of us. Today we exchanged views on how we can expand the economic component of our relations, what new projects we are going to implement and how we plan to coordinate our activities. Specific steps are already planned in the energy sector.
As you may know, the Russian Federation has experienced a disaster. Many residential settlements were burned, people were killed, many houses were enveloped in flames. Our Azerbaijani colleagues extended us a helping hand by participating in the effort to extinguish the fires in a large number of our settlements. This is indeed very important, especially since such disasters occur quite unexpectedly and often last long. Even now, although it is autumn, the fires keep on raging. In fact, two of our regions, settlements and people were affected yesterday. Of course, we will restore these areas. But it is particularly important in such difficult situations – and such disasters can happen even to such an economically developed country as Russia – that close friends can extend a helping hand. I would like to thank you very much again, Ilham Heydarovich, for everything that has been done.
As for the future, it seems very good to me. We have very promising projects. Today we have also signed agreements on joint utilization of water resources of the trans-boundary river Samur. This is our common asset, and we simply need to find out how we can use these resources in the best possible way. Our energy cooperation is certainly very important but it is not the only direction. We have agreed that we may actually dedicate a separate meeting to this issue, a separate summit of heads of state, to synchronize our activities in all directions, especially since we have already started developing certain relations, including those in the gas sector. Cooperation in the oil sector, commerce, electricity – these are also the directions we are paying special attention to.
Regional issues are always on the agenda. We talked about that a lot. Of course, we also spoke about security issues. I hope these questions are asked during the press conference because I think it is interesting. I will not go into detail now.
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Then the heads of state answered questions from journalists.
President Dmitry Medvedev: You know, we must heed attention to our economic interests. We must understand that there are interests of one side and interests of the other. These interests are always pragmatic. This is not a humanitarian sphere where everything is perfect. This is a sector where we earn money. It is normal. And we must proportion our opportunities with our wishes here. This is first.
Second. The Azerbaijani President and I have said today that we are major players and our interests largely overlap because our countries produce and export energy resources. Therefore, on the one hand, we must be able to reach agreement, while on the other, we must cooperate. The example of this cooperation was demonstrated when our colleagues signed documents on expanding the gas trade.
Thirdly, there are different projects. Russia has always thought that we can’t and mustn’t hamper any projects. This is completely unnatural. I think we must simply identify the most interesting spheres of cooperation, thus showing the attractiveness of joint projects. As for future projects, we wouldn’t mind if the projects fetching profit for our partners won. No-one wants to impose anything on others. At the same time, these must be economically viable projects. This is what I would consider when building energy relations for the future.
So we have enough gas for decades. Our cooperation in the gas sector is of a very open and sincere nature. We are viewing this sector as an opportunity to strengthen relations with our friends and partners. As for our cooperation with Russia in this sphere, as you may know, it started relatively recently. First documents were signed only last year, but over a short period of time, by signing an addendum to the contract today, we have actually increased Azerbaijani gas exports to Russia by four times. This is a mutually beneficial project which has a great future. One of the biggest pluses of the project is that there is no transit country between Azerbaijan and Russia. We are neighbors, we are linked by a gas pipeline system which is expanding. We are investing resources in the expansion of Azerbaijani gas transit to Russia.
As for as other projects you mentioned and the competition involved, we have never viewed our activities in the gas sector as the opportunity to enter into an unfounded competition. In this case, we do not proceed from political interests, but from purely economic and practical ones. We are satisfied with the conditions existing between Russian and Azerbaijani companies in the gas sphere today, and I hope Russia is too. Therefore, if all interested sides treat this from the standpoint of economic viability and if the artificial politicization of these projects is reduced to the minimum, I am sure that the interests of all interested sides will be taken into account. I want to reiterate that we view our energy cooperation with Russia as long-term and strategic partnership. It covers not only the gas sector, it includes oil, electricity and in the future, if we agree, we expect to increase the exports of all our energy components to Russia.
- I have a question to the esteemed President of the Russian Federation. The Azerbaijani public is understandably interested in your recent visit to Armenia and in the protocol signed there on the introduction of changes to the agreement on the Russian military base in Gyumri. How can you comment on that?
President Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you. Of course, I can comment on the results of my visit. Frankly speaking, we did discuss this issue with the Azerbaijani President, with Ilham Heydarovich. It is highly important for Russia to maintain stability here in the Caucasus. Russia is a country of the Caucasus, a Caspian littoral state. We proceed from this in building relations with Azerbaijan, our close neighbor and friend.
Therefore, we are interested in peace and order here. And this is how the decision made during my visit to Armenia, namely the prolongation of the agreement on the stay of the Russian military base in Armenia, should be viewed. There are no other or hidden interests. This base is intended to ensure peace and order, maintain stability, reduce the difficulties existing today. And this is what we will proceed from in using our capacities and exercising our authority under the agreement. There is nothing revolutionary in it and it means only one thing: the stay of this base has been extended by a certain number of years. And I am sure that we can thus further improve the overall situation here in the Caucasus, in Transcaucasia. These are the instructions I will issue to my subordinates – heads of ministries and departments dealing with the issue.
President Ilham Aliyev: We discussed this issue with Dmitry Anatolyevich today. There are no obstacles in the way of conducting the summit in Baku. Our positions on the issue of demarcation of the Caspian Sea overlap. As you know, there is an agreement on delimitation of our national sectors between our countries. We think this is a very good format and it can serve as a solid foundation for a comprehensive solution of the Caspian status issue.
We have also discussed a tentative timeframe of the summit, and after relevant consultations with our partners, our Caspian neighbors, we will determine the schedule. I understand that there is an interest in conducting it in Baku before the end of 2010 without waiting for 2011.
President Ilham Aliyev: In our view, the issue requires the speediest settlement because the negotiating process has been underway for very many years. The Minsk Group dealing with the issue was established in 1992. In 1994, a ceasefire agreement was signed, but for all these years it has been impossible to achieve a comprehensive settlement. Azerbaijani territories are still under occupation. Azerbaijan has been subjected to a policy of ethnic cleansing resulting in the deportation of hundreds thousands of Azerbaijanis from Nagorno-Karabakh and seven districts around it.
There are resolutions of international organizations. The UN Security Council has passed four resolutions demanding withdrawal of occupying forces from Azerbaijani territories. There are decisions of the OSCE, the Lisbon summit, resolutions of other international organizations.
I hope that the Armenian side will demonstrate a constructive approach and we will reach a settlement on the principles I have mentioned.
I am grateful to Azerbaijani President Ilham Heydarovich Aliyev for the kind words that have been said.
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