Speech by Ilham Aliyev at a reception in honor of the official visit of the President of Greece Karolos Papoulias

05 april 2011, 20:05

- Dear Mr. President!

Distinguished guests!

Ladies and gentlemen!

First of all, I would like to warmly salute you and the delegation you are leading and welcome you to Azerbaijan!

I am giving a high assessment to your first visit to Azerbaijan from the standpoint of the development of our bilateral relations. I am sure that the meetings we have held, the documents signed, the exchanges of opinion and discussions conducted, as well as the business forum due tomorrow, will give an impetus to a further expansion of our bilateral relations.

I am pleased to recall my visit to Greece in 2009. We are attaching special importance to the development of our relations with Greece, a country with ancient history and culture. There are broad prospects for the development of cooperation between Azerbaijan and Greece in the areas of tourism, renewable energy, agriculture, etc.

There are also opportunities for bilateral cooperation in such areas as emergency situations, environmental protection, maritime transport. I believe that your visit will contribute to a further development of our cooperation in different spheres.

Next year we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. I do hope that Azerbaijan and Greece will mark this remarkable date by new achievements in different spheres of cooperation.

Relations with the European Union and Euro-Atlantic organizations are an important part of our foreign policies. The joint declaration on the Southern gas corridor Azerbaijan signed with the EU in January is a graphic example of that.

Azerbaijan and Greece also cooperate closely within international organizations. Our cooperation within the UN, OSCE, the Council of Europe, the Black Sea Economic Cooperation organization is very gratifying indeed.

Azerbaijan, a country rich in natural resources and is a leading regional economy. Along with oil reserves, Azerbaijan has confirmed gas reserves exceeding 2.2 trillion cubic meters. Energy cooperation is a priority direction in our relations with the European Union.

At present, there are seven oil and gas pipelines transporting Azerbaijan’s energy resources in various directions. Our country is attaching special importance to diversifying energy exports and is ready to contribute to European energy security.

The major oil and gas projects we are implementing show that we are a reliable partner. Our natural gas is already transported to Greece. We hope Greece will contribute to the transsportation of Azerbaijani gas to European markets as a transit country.

Over the past years Azerbaijan has carried out very successful political and economic reforms. As a result, our gross domestic product has increased about three times, salaries and pensions five to six times, the level of poverty has dropped 4.5 times in the last seven years. A total of $82 billion has been invested in Azerbaijan and over 900,000 jobs created.

In an effort to take its energy resources to world markets, Azerbaijan has created an infrastructure meeting modern standards. Our country is playing an important part in diversifying energy exports and contributing to European energy security.

All this, i.e. the specific projects we are implementing, secures Azerbaijan’s dynamic development on the one hand, and, on the other, brings peace and security to the region and facilitates the processes ongoing here.

Mr. President! Let me reaffirm my satisfaction with hosting you in Azerbaijan, wish you good health, and sustainable development, and further successes to your country and people.

I would like to raise this glass to the development of sincere and friendly relations and mutually beneficial cooperation between Greece and Azerbaijan.