Statement of President Ilham Aliyev:
Thank you very much, Madame Chancellor,
First of all I would like to express my gratitude for invitation to visit Germany again. I was here last year, and I am visiting now. So it shows that we have a very active political dialogue.
And today`s meeting with Madame Chancellor once again created a good opportunity to exchange views on important issues of our bilateral agenda and also regional issues. As Madame Chancellor mentioned we covered many areas of mutual interest and importance. I’m sure that successful development of German-Azerbaijani relations will serve the cause of peace, stability in our region. Of course, Nagorno-Karabakh settlement, the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan was one of the most important parts of our discussions. We need soonest resolution of this conflict based on international law norms and implementation of United Nations Security Council resolutions, which were adopted, four of them more than 20 years ago, and which demand immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian troops from the territory of Azerbaijan. Unfortunately, these resolutions are not implemented and there are no mechanisms of implementation. Unfortunately, sanctions have not been imposed on Armenia for brutal violation of international law, for policy of ethnic cleansing, for occupation of almost 20 percent of the territories of a sovereign state. We want peaceful, soonest resolution and the resolution that will be in line with United Nations Charter, Helsinki Final Act and relevant resolutions of international organizations. The recent development in the region on the line of contact shows that the ceasefire is not stable, it is fragile and status-quo is not acceptable. In the beginning of April Armenia launched another military provocation against Azerbaijan. We had to defend ourselves, to defend our civilians. By the way, 6 civilians were killed as a result of Armenian aggression, 100 houses in Azerbaijan were totally demolished, 500 houses damaged. Status-quo must be changed. Minsk Group co-chairs, their presidents repeatedly commented on that. Germany, as a chair of OSCE, made a very clear statement that status-quo is not acceptable. The change of the status-quo means beginning of de-occupation of the territory of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is committed to peaceful settlement. In Vienna this May a meeting was organized by the ministers of foreign affairs of the three co-chair countries and we agreed that we will work on different tracks. First, we will start substantive negotiations and we will strengthen the ceasefire regime and create additional opportunities to strengthen the ceasefire regime, but this process should definitely go in parallel.
We also discussed issues related to regional security, regional cooperation and, of course, economic cooperation between us. This morning, I attended the German-Azerbaijani business forum with presidents of the leading German companies and I saw there is a big mutual interest in doing business together. As it was informed by German representatives, trade with Azerbaijan makes 80 percent of Germany`s trade with the Southern Caucasus. I am sure that these figures will only grow due to the policy of reforms which we implement, and there will be greater opportunities for our companies to do business together.
Energy security definitely was today broadly discussed. Azerbaijan plays its important role in implementing large-scale energy projects of the Southern Gas Corridor, which covers now seven countries, three of them members of EU. And European Union strongly supports our initiatives. The Southern Gas Corridor is a project of energy diversification for us as producers and for consumers because they will have access to a new, alternative source of gas from Azerbaijan, which will be delivered by the brand new transportation infrastructure. Energy security today cannot be separated from national security of countries. The countries which depend on energy supply, of course, need to have diversified routes and sources so Azerbaijan is a new country in this respect, and as a friend we will do everything in order to implement the project on time. By the year of 2020 the Southern Gas Corridor project should be completed. This is a project worth 45 billion dollars.
Other areas of cooperation are also of great importance. I also informed Madame Chancellor about transportation projects which Azerbaijan implements to create the reliable connection between Asia and Europe through Azerbaijan using our existing infrastructure. So the shortest route from Asia to Europe will be the route through Azerbaijan, which will be in operation by the end of the year.
Also we discussed issues related to political development in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is strongly committed to democracy, protection of human rights. Many steps have been taken recently in order to address these issues and today we have all the fundamental freedoms in Azerbaijan - freedom of assembly, freedom of media, freedom of expression. We have free internet, where 75 % of our citizens are users of internet. We have freedom of religion. This year in Azerbaijan is declared the year of multiculturalism and Azerbaijan is a good example where people representing different religions live in peace, harmony and dignity.
Once again, I’d like to express gratitude for hospitality of Madame Chancellor, for opportunity to discuss these issues with you, and I hope that our bilateral cooperation will successfully continue in the future. Thank you.