Ilham Aliyev and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan have held a press conference

13 november 2013, 12:35

After the signing ceremony of intergovernmental documents, President Ilham Aliyev and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a press conference.

First, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Ilham Aliyev made statements for the press.

Statement by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan

- Dear Mr President, dear brother Ilham Aliyev,

Dear ministers,

Distinguished representatives of the press,

Distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen,

I welcome you and note the importance of meetings, which resulted in seven agreements and protocols signed after the meeting of the High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council held today by us, representatives of the peoples of Turkey and Azerbaijan - the two countries that are committed to the ideal of "one nation, two states".

As you know, in the elections held on 9 October 2013, Mr Ilham Aliyev was elected President for the third time with the overwhelming majority of votes. In this regard, before all of you, I once again sincerely congratulate my brother, Mr Ilham Aliyev, and wish this election to benefit and bring success for the future of Azerbaijan.

I believe that as a positive fact it would be useful to recall that the presidential elections in Azerbaijan were observed by 35 members of the Turkish Parliament. Turkey and Azerbaijan are making serious efforts to ensure peace, stability and prosperity in the Caucasus. At the bilateral meeting and the meeting with the participation of delegations held today, we were able to address all these issues.

What kind of work we plan to do in the future in the military, political, economic, commercial and cultural areas and what we have done so far – we discussed all that. Currently, the volume of trade between the two countries has reached 4.2 billion dollars. We will continue to accelerate our work in order to increase this figure to 15 billion dollars in the future. In particular, I would like to note that yesterday President Abdullah Gul and our brother President Ilham Aliyev, getting acquainted with our important strategic facilities, once again held an exchange of views on the kind of work we can do in this area.

Of course, we are taking and will continue to take steps in the energy sector, which is of strategic importance to our countries. One of them, as you know, is the TANAP project which is currently under discussion. God willing, in early 2014, the foundation of this project will be laid and work in this direction will begin. Naturally, along with TANAP, many other things are currently being done. As you know, earlier, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline project was implemented. It was a project to transport Azerbaijani oil from Ceyhan to the world markets. This project was successfully launched and is successfully continuing.

Another important step is, as you know, the Shah Deniz project, which is also being successfully implemented. One more step is the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project, whose implementation continues apace. Work on this project is being completed. Opening it, we will connect our countries with a railway network. This road will connect with Marmaray. After joining the Marmaray project, a rail link from Beijing to London will be created, which will also include the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway. At the same time, we discussed the future work connected with the laying of a gas pipeline from Igdir to Nakhchivan. Even the issue of creating a railway network between Igdir and Nakhchivan was discussed. Work in this regard, God willing, is beginning. We are taking decisive steps here.

Naturally, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is also a problem for us as it is for Azerbaijan. For us it is a matter to which we attach great importance from the point of view of peace, brotherhood and security in the Caucasus, one of the main goals in our foreign policy. It is impossible to keep this question out of sight. Our unconditional support to Azerbaijan for a speedy and peaceful solution to the issue through dialogue continues. Of course, great responsibility lies with the OSCE Minsk Group here. That is to say the United States, Russia and France have to keep this matter in the spotlight deeper and more seriously. We discussed what Turkey can do. We examined the question of how to ensure sustainable peace.

Dear friends, today I am pleased to note that our political relations with Azerbaijan are developing perfectly and seamlessly. In our meeting with Ilham Aliyev, we emphasized the importance of expanding, along with trade relations, relations in the political and cultural spheres. We talked about energy projects of great importance for the future of Eurasia. We examined what kind of work we can accomplish in the Balkans together and especially in the countries of the region, where Azerbaijani natural gas will be supplied.

We - Turkey and Azerbaijan - have demonstrated a serious stance and expressed our views on the implementation of the Trans-Anatolian project and the South Corridor project. Naturally, we shared views on how to keep this question, which is one of the important projects of our strategic partnership, in the centre of attention.

Together with the Marmaray project, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project will allow trains from Western Europe to reach the Caspian coast and then the ports of Aktau and Turkmenbashi and then Beijing. Of course, this is also an important step.

At our meetings today, we also discussed the issue of Nakhchivan. This question is very important for us. I wish the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to be quickly resolved peacefully. After the liberation of the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, the Nakhchivan transport problem will be eliminated. In particular, the laying of the railway will make a very significant contribution to solving the transport problem of Nakhchivan and peace in the region.

At our meeting today, I once again expressed special thanks to my brother, President Ilham Aliyev. Prior to this, the tax fee paid by our businessmen working in Azerbaijan amounted to 1,270 dollars. When we raised this issue with the opposite side, they made another proposal at the discussion, saying "let's reduce it to 50 dollars". Thus, we reduced it to 50 dollars. After some time, this agreement will be signed separately.

Once again, I express my sincere appreciation for this and for the work that has been done. I wish this visit to be of benefit to both countries.

With regard to the visa issue, which we discussed earlier, our economy ministers will keep it under control. We discussed the evaluation of our economic ministers on the simplification of visa procedures for academics, students and businessmen. The first steps in this direction will be taken systematically, especially for our businessmen.

Thank you. I am giving the floor to the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev.

Statement by President Ilham Aliyev

- Thank you, my dear brother, Dear Mr Prime Minister,

Dear ladies and gentlemen,

Distinguished members of the press,

First of all, my dear brother, I want to thank you for the hospitality extended to me and the delegation. I am very glad to be in fraternal Turkey again. I also thank you for the congratulations in connection with the presidential election. Naturally, by tradition I am paying my first official visit after the presidential election to Turkey. It's a tradition. We have created this tradition. I am sure that those who come after us will also be faithful to it. This is what it should be, since Turkey and Azerbaijan are the closest countries to each other in the world. Perhaps, it is difficult to find other such countries that are so attached to each other in the world and support each other. This support strengthens us.

The successful development of Turkey is our development. The strength of Turkey is our strength. Today, I sincerely congratulated my dear brother, the Prime Minister, on all the successes Turkey has achieved in recent years under his leadership. It is historical, great successes.

Over the past 10 years, Turkey has travelled a long and glorious path and has been able to get out of the difficult economic situation with credit. Today, Turkey is one of the strongest states on the global scale and is a member of G20. Turkey's influence on world developments is gradually increasing, and will increase even further in the future. Not a single initiative can be implemented in the region without the consent of Turkey. It makes us happy and stronger. We, in turn, are also trying to ensure that Turkish-Azerbaijani relations develop further.

Today's meeting of the Strategic Cooperation Council is also a manifestation of this unity. As Mr Prime Minister said, during the meeting two important questions were resolved in an instant. This indicates that our respect, love and affection for each other are so strong that any issue can easily find its solution. We are trying and must try to develop interstate relations, ties between businessmen and cultural ties, and at the same time, to make contacts between people even closer.

Fate decreed that we should be separated for seventy years. But it could not extinguish the love in the hearts of our people. Immediately after gaining independence, Azerbaijan established links with Turkey. Turkey was the first country to recognize our independence, and since then, we have always felt the support of Turkey. This gives us additional strength. In particular, in the most important issue for us - the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, we always count and rely on Turkey. We are confident that Turkey will always be with us in this matter. As you know, our lands have been under occupation for many years, the four resolutions of the UN Security Council are not being implemented, and this injustice continues.

Today, at times they are talking about the inaction of the Security Council and accuse it of not taking decisions. But a decision was taken on this issue. Is it just that there is no mechanism for the execution of this decision. We hope that Azerbaijan will restore its territorial integrity. To do this we have to be even stronger. We are working on these issues.

Turkish-Azerbaijani relations multiply our strength. Yesterday's presentation on the development of Turkey's defence industry made a deep impression on me. Today, Turkey enjoys a high reputation in the world in this field too. Military equipment made in Turkey is at the highest international level. The common history and culture that unite us are a solid basis for our relations. On this foundation we are building a beautiful building, and, as my dear brother noted, this building contains large multinational projects.

By constructing the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, we did not confine our work to the delivery of Azerbaijani oil to Turkey. It was the opening of a corridor through which major projects are now being implemented. My dear brother, once again I congratulate you on the implementation of the Marmaray project. This is your historical merit. It will go down in history as one of your services to the Turkish people. By implementing this project, you connected continents and peoples and secured the long-term interests of Turkey. The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, of course, is also part of this major project.

Great things expect us in the future. We are ready for them. The implementation of the TANAP project will completely rebuild the energy map of Europe. The role of Turkey and Azerbaijan on this map will have a special place as the TANAP project is one of the largest energy projects globally, and we are implementing it. Turkey and Azerbaijan have taken on this responsibility, and it is a political and financial burden. We are jointly demonstrating leadership. Through our leadership, many countries will benefit because today the world's energy policy cannot be separated from foreign policy. We are building all work together and discussing it together. The essence and advantage of the Strategic Cooperation Council lies in the fact that many issues are dealt with during these meetings. Just like today and in the past, next time at the meeting to be held in Baku, we, I am confident, will take new decisions.

I would also like to say a few words about mutual investments. This is a great indicator. Azerbaijan’s largest investments, which have been made and will be made abroad, are investments in Turkey. Investments from Turkey in Azerbaijan accelerate our economic development. These are investments made on the basis of mutual trust, faith, friendship and brotherhood. When I say that our relationship is based on brotherhood, this is confirmed by ongoing projects. Brotherhood and friendship will are eternal and will last forever. The 21st century will be a century of the Turkic world. Turkey and Azerbaijan have assumed a leading role in this area, and I am confident that together we will achieve great success in the future.

Once again, my dear brother, I thank you for your hospitality and warmth. I wish the brotherly people of Turkey further prosperity, progress and happiness.


Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan: I am also very grateful. Thank you for your excellent statement for the press.

Now members of the press can ask questions. First, please, press representatives from Azerbaijan.

Ataya ABBASOVA (Lider TV): My question is for the Prime Minister of Turkey, Mr Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Dear Prime Minister, I want to ask how high-level Turkish-Azerbaijani relations affect regional cooperation. We are interested in your opinion on this matter. Thank you.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan: Yes, I am also very grateful. As I said just now, relations between Azerbaijan and Turkey in the political, military, cultural and commercial areas are developing rapidly. At present, the trade volume is 4.2 billion dollars. Of course, it will continue to grow. Our current goal is to increase it to 15 billion dollars. That is to say in 2020 we will increase the volume of the Turkish-Azerbaijani trade turnover to 15 billion dollars.

As I said earlier, we have opportunities for joint investments in the Balkan countries, and many investments related to natural gas. We are planning it. Today very important work was done by our ministers who will be dealing with this issue, first of all, foreign ministers. They held talks about what can be done in their areas. We can take important joint steps in the defence industry. We will take joint actions in the field of culture and education. That is to say aware of the responsibility for being "one nation", we demonstrate, and will demonstrate, the ability to take joint decisions in the political sphere and in the sphere of foreign policy.

Aysun Turan (Habertürk TV channel): My question is for the distinguished President Ilham Aliyev. Mr President, at every meeting it is stressed that Azerbaijan and Turkey are "one nation, two states". But not a single step has been taken in the issue of visas. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan touched on the issue. What is the obstacle to the issue of visas? Do you think there are still no suitable conditions?

President Ilham Aliyev: On the issue of visas, my dear brother Mr Prime Minister made a statement. I think that after this statement there is no need for additional questions. But, at the same time, if there was no such question, I would be surprised: why was this question not asked today?

I can say that we have already decided that initially, based on a list to be provided by the Ministry of Economy, visa-free entry and exit will be provided for citizens of Turkey into and from Azerbaijan. As you know, each country, including Azerbaijan, has its own policy related to visas. However, a visa-free regime will be applied as an exception for scientists, athletes, business people, famous people and people with close ties to Azerbaijan. In the near future, this problem will be solved. I am sure that after that, such questions will no longer be necessary.