Press conference of the Presidents of Azerbaijan and France was held

12 may 2014, 12:45

After the signing ceremony of Azerbaijani-French documents, a press conference of President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and President of the French Republic Francois Hollande was held.

First, the heads of state made statements for the press.

Statement by President Ilham Aliyev

- Dear Mr. President,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen.

Dear Mr. President, I sincerely welcome you to Azerbaijan once again. Welcome to our country! We attach great importance to your visit. I am sure that this visit will play a positive role in the development of French-Azerbaijani relations of friendship and our friendship will be continued. The documents signed today determine our future cooperation in many areas . Among these documents, of course, a special place belongs to a joint statement. This document reflects the basic contours of our future political ties.

Our political relations are at a high level. This is confirmed again by the official visit of the President of France to Azerbaijan. I have repeatedly been to France and held regular consultations. The negotiations and consultations on many international issues, of course, further reinforce our political ties.

Over the last two years, France and Azerbaijan participated in the UN Security Council together. We have established a very successful cooperation in the most authoritative global structure. So our positions on international issues overlap on many issues. Of course, France as the OSCE Minsk Group co-chair is making effort to resolve the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Today, of course, we had a very wide-ranging exchange of views on this issue. We do hope that with the help of mediators this conflict will soon be resolved and peace will come to the region.

As you know, the Azerbaijani lands have been under occupation for many years. Nagorno-Karabakh and seven districts located around it are under Armenian occupation, which has been ongoing for more than 20 years. All influential international organizations have expressed their position on this issue. In particular, the UN Security Council has adopted four resolutions which provide for an unconditional withdrawal of Armenian forces from the occupied territories. The European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the OSCE and other international organizations keep this issue in the spotlight and have adopted decisions and resolutions. But unfortunately, this issue remains unresolved. The occupation continues. The OSCE fact-finding missions have been seconded to the occupied lands twice and their reports indicate that everything there is destroyed, our historical and religious monuments have been razed to the ground. This conflict must be brought to an end soon. This conflict must be resolved on the basis of norms and principles of international law and the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. As for the principle of self-determination of peoples, we respect it but this right must not violate the internationally recognized borders of countries. Besides, the Armenian people have already gained independence once – there is an independent Armenian state. Azerbaijan will never tolerate a second Armenian state on its soil.

The resolution of this conflict can benefit all countries of the region. I hope that France and other co-chairs will continue their efforts on this issue and we can soon place our citizens in the occupied lands.

There is a very successful cooperation in the economic sphere between us. Documents will be signed at the upcoming business forum today. The turnover is approaching $2 billion. More than 50 French companies operate in Azerbaijan.

The contracts to be signed are worth $2-2.5 billion. I am sure that new projects will be implemented in this area after the visit. There are excellent prospects, opportunities in the fields of transport, telecommunications, information technology, tourism, construction and other fields. The opening of the French lyceum yesterday is a great event in itself. This indicates that both countries are paying great attention to education. By the end of the year the French lyceum in Baku will continue its activities in a new beautiful building.

Of course, today we also had an exchange of views on energy security. We work closely with France in the field. Azerbaijan is making effort for energy security of Europe. The documents signed late last year will facilitate the supply of Azerbaijani gas to Europe, and I am sure that the implementation of this project will make our relations with Europe even closer. The "Shah Deniz", Trans-Anatolian and Trans-Adriatic pipeline projects are the largest infrastructure projects in Europe. The volume of investment is planned at the level of nearly $45 billion. As a result of this project, all parties – Azerbaijan, transit countries and European consumers – will see a benefit because it is a project that serves the interests of each party.

Azerbaijan continues to play the role of a leader in Caspian energy supplies to world markets, including Europe. Of course, issues of energy security have become matters of national security for each country, and Azerbaijan’s ample oil and gas resources, the existing and new transport infrastructure being created have significantly changed the energy map of Europe.

Our agenda is very broad. It is impossible to cover all of it in a press conference. But I think that the important thing is that both sides have a very strong political will and interest to continue mutual contacts. The relations between our peoples are also in development and at a high level. I am sure that this visit will give a new impetus to our relations.

Once again, Mr. President, welcome to Azerbaijan!