Ilham Aliyev and President of the Council of Ministers of Italy Enrico Letta held a press conference
11 august 2013, 19:00
After the meeting in an expanded format with the participation of delegations, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and President of the Council of Ministers of Italy Enrico Letta held a press conference.
President Ilham Aliyev and President of the Council of Ministers of Italy Enrico Letta made statements.
Statement by President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev
- Dear Prime Minister!
Ladies and gentlemen!
I welcome you to Azerbaijan. I do hope that your visit will be memorable. This is a historic visit. The Prime Minister of Italy is paying a visit to Azerbaijan for the first time. We welcome you to Azerbaijan and attach great importance to this visit.
This is a visit that confirms the significance of our bilateral relations. It is an excellent opportunity to discuss various aspects of our bilateral relations.
Our relations are developing successfully. We have established an effective political cooperation, which is evidenced by this visit. We actively cooperate within the framework of international organizations.
Close political contacts are also very important to the diversification of our relations, so that they cover all areas. I can say that Italy is our main trading partner. Of course, this is primarily associated with the oil industry. But I hope that as a result of this visit and the discussions to be held we will also diversify our trade relations.
We are inviting Italian companies to Azerbaijan to act as investors and contractors. A large Italian delegation will visit Azerbaijan to discuss various projects. We have discussed energy cooperation between our countries. This will open a new page in our relations. It will be a new page not only in our bilateral relations, but also in the relations between Azerbaijan and the European Union.
Azerbaijan contributes to the energy security of the European Union. At the same time, through the European Union we have found new markets. We have great resources. We have already identified new markets and will encourage long-term relationships. In June of this year there was a very important event associated with the selection of the Trans-Adriatic gas pipeline route. It was a choice made in a fair competition. The most viable project was chosen.
Energy security is a very important issue for any country. In this respect, Azerbaijan is a great country. We have ample resources and large markets. At the same time, we enhance competition also as a transit country and encourage communication between our states.
Azerbaijan is actively involved in a number of European programs. At the same time, our relations with European institutions are an issue of great importance. Therefore, I am grateful to the Prime Minister of Italy for supporting Azerbaijan's cooperation with European institutions and NATO.
Along with energy issues we have also discussed regional affairs. I have updated the Prime Minister on the occupation of our lands by Armenia and the process of settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Despite a number of resolutions and decisions, the issue remains unresolved. Of course, the key principles here are international law and the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.
The solution of this issue will contribute to regional peace and partnership. We are a very important country in the region, an important country located in the Caspian basin. Thanks to the close relations with Europe we will achieve even more effective results. Prime Minister, I am sure that your visit will give a positive impetus to our relations and facilitate their development in various fields. Of course, people in Azerbaijan are very familiar with Italian culture. I do hope that we will also take this opportunity to introduce Azerbaijan to the Italian people. So I would like to thank you, Prime Minister, for your visit to our country. I am confident that we will work together very effectively in the coming years.
Statement by President of the Council of Ministers of Italy Enrico Letta
- Mr. President!
It is a great honor for me to be here. You know very well how important this visit is for us. I am the first Prime Minister of my country to pay a visit to Azerbaijan, to Baku. It is yet another indication of how important our discussions and the choice of the TAP project are.
I believe that this project will be an important factor in the energy future of Italy. This project is of paramount importance for the future of not only Italy but also of the whole region. This is a project that will change the energy map. By carrying out effective cooperation, we have established close contacts with the governments of Greece and Albania. Of course, we must not forget Turkey. We are confident that such arrangements will boost our effective cooperation. Most importantly, we must not waste time on this issue and the implementation of this project must commence soon.
At the same time, I would like to thank you, Mr. President, and Azerbaijan in general for this choice. The TAP project was selected on the basis of commercial principles. But it is a very important issue. I believe that this project will raise the economic ties between our countries to a higher level.
Taking advantage of this opportunity, I should address the people of Italy and note the importance of partnership with Azerbaijan for our country and its future. Our active participation in these projects will raise our economic relations to a higher level.
We will create a joint group. In November, representatives of leading Italian companies will come to Azerbaijan.
Representatives of the association of construction companies and the federation of heavy industry equipment of Italy will visit Azerbaijan to explore for various opportunities. I am sure that this too will attest to the nature of our contacts.
We have noted in our joint declaration that this activity should be enhanced. At the same time, a meeting of the Economic Commission will be held at the end of this year. This is a very important matter. We should also focus on the cultural sphere of our cooperation. We will create the Italian-Azerbaijani civil society forum. This forum will encourage contacts among our peoples.
As Mr. President has noted, we have also discussed the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. We believe that the status quo in this matter is unacceptable. The settlement of the protracted conflict will make a historic contribution to peace and security in the region.
Italy actively supports the activity of the Minsk Group, and we believe that this format is best suited for a final settlement of the conflict. I would like to reiterate that the unresolved status of the conflict is not in favor of any party.
In addition, I would like to emphasize Azerbaijan's consent to participate in the EXPO-2015 exhibition. This exhibition will be held in Milan. Various important topics will be discussed there. I would like to thank Azerbaijan for agreeing to participate in the exhibition. This is an exhibition held across the European Union. It is a traditional event held for 30 years. So, Mr. President, thank you for having made this choice.
I do hope that we will see each other again in the near future – in Vilnius in November. At the same time, taking advantage of this opportunity, I would be very happy to see Mr. President in Italy. I am inviting you, Mr. President, to get acquainted with this show in 2015. As a continuation of our meetings today, we will discuss various topics there too.
At the same time, our companies and manufacturers will soon visit Azerbaijan and sign relevant agreements, which will also contribute to the development of very important economic ties between the two countries.
Energy is a very important issue for Italy. We spend a great deal on issues related to energy. In this sense, we advocate a completely different situation. We are therefore very pleased that Azerbaijan has made its choice in connection with TAP. Thank you very much.
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Then questions from journalists were answered.
Director of 1news Information Agency Rahman Hajiyev: Mr. Prime Minister, my question is to you. You have noted that the Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan has been ongoing for 20 years. As you know, 20 per cent of our territory is occupied by Armenian troops. More than a million of our compatriots have become refugees and internally displaced persons. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is the biggest obstacle to regional cooperation and a major threat to the security of Europe. The UN Security Council has adopted four resolutions in this respect. All of the resolutions demand an unconditional release of Azerbaijani lands. Armenia has ignored these resolutions and all other documents. Why do you think these resolutions remain unfulfilled?
Prime Minister Enrico Letta: I spoke to the President about this a few minutes ago. I was a student when the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict started. I was studying at the university, receiving education in international relations. So I am familiar with the problem. The conflict has continued for more than 20 years. This is a very long time. I am well aware of the dangers the continuation of the conflict is fraught with in the future. Italy will make every effort to resolve the conflict in accordance with international practices. We believe that the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict must be supported by the international community. Traditionally, we have paid great attention to this conflict. Our diplomats have been keeping the issue in the spotlight, have traditionally put forward and discussed various proposals. Next year Italy will assume presidency in the European Union. It is a huge responsibility for us. I would like to assure you that we will do everything possible to resolve the conflict at the international level.
Jeyhun Aliyev ("Azad Azerbaijan" TV channel): Mr. President, our countries have established effective cooperation. What additional measures can be taken to further expand our economic ties?
President Ilham Aliyev: We have discussed this issue. We believe that an important part is to be played by diversification.
The energy sector plays an important role in our relations. This is the case, especially in terms of the implementation of the TAP project. At the same time, I believe that we have an even greater potential in the non-energy sector. This is a priority issue for our countries and governments. This is a very important issue for the diversification of our economy and non-oil sector development. A partner such as Italy can help us with the successful implementation of diversification projects.
We look forward to the visit by a delegation of Italian businessmen to Azerbaijan. At the same time, a meeting of the intergovernmental commission will be held. We can identify the scope for effective cooperation. Today we have discussed issues of construction, tourism, agriculture and the establishment of new industrial estates. As you know, it is an important issue for us. At the same time, we have discussed the participation of Italian companies in infrastructure projects in Azerbaijan.
I am confident that the implementation of the TAP project and the strengthening of cooperation in the energy sector we enable us to pay more attention to the non-oil sector, diversify our trade relations and further strengthen the relations between our countries and peoples.
Italian journalist: Mr. Prime Minister, we encountered very dangerous phenomena yesterday – the issue of illegal migration. Not only the media but also politicians in different countries are saying that the issue of illegal immigration is a major problem. This is a continental problem. I would like to hear your opinion about that.
Prime Minister Enrico Letta: Indeed, I would like to express my condolences to the families of those killed in the tragedy that took place in Catania. Here we are talking about migrant workers coming to the coasts of Italy. Yes, the government of Malta is actively involved in resolving the issue and identifying the victims together with us. We are trying to help these people overcome difficulties.
Italy is part of Europe, and we, I would say, also have a certain status associated with hospitality. But we also have laws and principles that should be ensured. We have a principled position regarding labor migrants coming to our shores.
And our position remains unchanged. Sometimes we have to take tough measures. Today, the flow of migrants to the Mediterranean region is an important issue. If this issue is not resolved within the framework of our principles and laws, then we will have big problems. Today, there are similar problems associated with migration in various parts of the world. This undermines the situation in different countries. Ten days ago, we held a special Cabinet meeting in this regard and talked about providing these people with everything necessary.
For example, Azerbaijan has great achievements from this point of view. If partners such as Azerbaijan help us, we can overcome these great obstacles, in particular resolve the problem of illegal migration. This is a very important issue for our domestic policy. At the same time, this problem exists at the international level. So if Italy remains committed to its stance, then we can make significant progress in this matter and resolve the issue of migration.
At the same time, it will be a great help for our partners. Migration in the Mediterranean region is a very important issue.
Here we are talking about common initiatives in Europe. We should demonstrate a unified position in various fields. As in other matters, there also should be a unified position here.