Statement by President Ilham Aliyev
- Thank you very much, Mr. President!
First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to you for the hospitality extended to me and the delegation. I am very glad to be visiting Latvia again. Today, both during the one-on-one meeting and at the meeting between delegations, we discussed various aspects of Latvian-Azerbaijani relations. These discussions have been very constructive. I am sure that the results of this visit will also be very positive and Latvian-Azerbaijani relations will rise to a new level.
As you noted as well, the documents signed today are very important. Among them, I want to highlight the Joint Declaration on Strategic Partnership between Latvia and Azerbaijan. This is a very serious and fundamental document covering practically all areas of our relations.
You also noted that Latvia supports the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. I can say that the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan is supported by the whole world. The declaration reflects very important issues related to the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. It emphasizes that this issue should be resolved on the basis of relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council, the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan, and the inviolability of its borders. This is a fair position, and I am grateful to you for this position.
Today, of course, we touched upon regional problems. Security issues have also been discussed. Now as strategic partners, of course, we are discussing all issues very openly and frankly.
Particular attention has been paid to the economic sphere. Of course, I am sure that the discussions to be held within the framework of the business forum will produce good results. As we have been informed, several business contracts will be signed within the framework of the business forum. This will have a positive impact on the turnover between our countries, which is not very high.
We have specific proposals on what products we can export to Latvia and what we can import from here. Our climatic conditions are such that the two economies do not compete with each other. So we can export many goods to Latvia and the other way round. Therefore, there are excellent opportunities for the development of mutual trade ties. In particular, we have touched upon cooperation in the field of tourism and reached the decision that there should be regular flights from Riga to Baku. Relevant instructions have already been given.
I would like to note the work of the joint intergovernmental commission. In a short time, the commission has done a great job. Significant documents have been signed today. The Commission has played a major part in the development of cooperation in political, economic and other spheres. I would like to wish the Commission further success in its future work.
Of course, cooperation in the field of education and the humanitarian sphere is of great importance as well. According to the data available, 150 representatives of Azerbaijani youth study in Latvian universities today. I would like this number of be higher.
There are encouraging opportunities for cooperation in the field of transport. Currently, Azerbaijan is actively engaged in the creation of the North-South transport corridor and has allocated very major financial resources for this purpose. Latvia as one of the countries along this corridor, of course, works on a par with us. We have decided that relevant bodies should already begin consultations among themselves at the next stage.
As Mr. President has noted, the relations between the European Union and Azerbaijan are also developing successfully. Earlier this year, I paid a very successful visit to the European Commission. A day after the visit, work began on a new agreement between the European Commission and Azerbaijan. Of course, I believe that the Joint Declaration on Strategic Partnership signed today lays an excellent basis for the document to be signed between the European Union and Azerbaijan. I should also note that Azerbaijan has already signed documents on strategic partnership with 11 member-countries of the European Union. This essentially reflects our strategic cooperation.
Of course, energy issues are in the foreground in the relations between the European Union and Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan as a reliable partner plays and will continue to play a role in ensuring the energy security of Europe. Azerbaijani gas is the only new source, a new route for gas supplies to Europe. This is our advantage.
The Southern Gas Corridor being implemented at the initiative of Azerbaijan is well under way. This corridor requires a total of $40 billion. A considerable part of this has already been invested. Azerbaijan has already invested and continues to invest resources to billions of dollars, so that this corridor project could be implemented as soon as possible. I am sure that the first stage will be completed next year and the second and last stages in 2020. Thus, our strategic ties with Europe will rise to an even higher level.
Latvia plays a very important role in the development of these ties. We have always felt the support of Latvia in the successful development of the relations between Azerbaijan and NATO. Today, the relations between NATO and Azerbaijan, and our activities in the Republic of Afghanistan, the logistical transport corridor and all these issues in general, of course, strengthen our ties with NATO member-states.
Mr. President, I would like to thank you for the invitation and hospitality once again. For my part, I am inviting you to pay an official visit to Azerbaijan at your convenience. Thank you!