Presidents of Azerbaijan and Poland held a joint press conference

25 july 2011, 13:00

Following the document signing ceremony between Azerbaijan and Poland, President Ilham Aliyev and President Bronislaw Komorowski held a joint press conference.

The Presidents delivered statements and responded to journalists’ questions.

Statement by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev

- Dear Mr. President,

Dear guests, ladies and gentlemen!

Mr. President, let me warmly welcome you to Azerbaijan again. Your visit is of tremendous importance. We were further convinced in the meetings and negotiations held today that Azerbaijani-Polish relations are of strategic nature, and I am sure that your visit will create new opportunities for the development of these relations.

Our relations have a very good history. We have always cooperated successfully in the political sphere. If we look at the agenda of our bilateral relations, we can see that it is very broad. I am sure that our political cooperation will be successfully continued.

At the same time, we have had an exchange on the prospects of economic cooperation. There are different opinions, there are different ideas, and I am sure that the Polish-Azerbaijani business forum to be held today will be important for further steps in this direction.

We must pursue even more active policies to increase mutual trade and facilitate the implementation of mutual investment projects in the future. Economic relations will certainly give a strong impetus to contacts in all other spheres.

We have also exchanged views on the current state and prospects for our energy cooperation. There have been exchanges and talks between relevant institutions of our countries during which new opportunities are being sought for taking Azerbaijani oil and gas to world and European markets. Polish-Azerbaijani relations hold an important place in this. I am sure that Poland, a country that currently has presidency in the European Union, will say its word in our talks with the European Union as a whole.

Azerbaijan is rich in oil and gas resources, has a diversified export infrastructure – we have seven pipelines through which our oil and gas can be delivered to world and European markets, and they are operational.

Relations between the European Union and Azerbaijan are rapidly developing, and I am sure that Poland will make a valuable contribution to the development of these relations during its EU presidency. I am certain that the declaration signed in January this year during European Commission President Mr. Barroso’s visit to Azerbaijan will give a powerful impetus to future cooperation.

In general, the relations between the European Union and Azerbaijan have been broadly discussed today, and there are no disagreements on that. We are very interested in a new impetus being given to these relations because they are very important to both Europe and Azerbaijan. Our emerging partnership is of strategic nature. We want our partnership with European institutions to develop further.

We have also exchanged views on regional issues. Both Poland and Azerbaijan have very serious positions in their respective regions for the development of the Caspian Sea – Baltic Sea cooperation. Both countries have very strong geopolitical standing and a final say in terms of their economic potential. We must make cooperation among Caspian, Black and Baltic countries seas more intensive, and Polish-Azerbaijani relations have a very important mission in this sphere.

In addition to regional cooperation, we have also considered regional security issues. In particular, I have informed Mr. President of ways of resolving the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh and the current state of negotiations. I want to reiterate that this conflict is the biggest threat, the greatest injustice for the region. For many years Armenia has been violating the internationally recognized territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, 20 per cent of our land is under occupation. Azerbaijanis have been exposed to a policy of ethnic cleansing, more than one million Azerbaijanis were driven out of their homes and became refugees and IDPs persons. International organizations have expressed their positions on the issue. The UN, the European Union, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, the OSCE have passed decisions and resolutions. These decisions and resolutions provide the legal framework for resolving the issue.

Of course, the soonest solution of the issue on the basis of international law and within the framework of the territorial integrity of countries will bring peace and cooperation to the region, and all the processes in the region will develop more rapidly and in a positive direction.

In general, I want to indicate that the first official visit of the Polish President to Azerbaijan has been very successful. The visit program is very busy. We will continue our meetings today and tomorrow. I am sure that in general the visit will produce great results which will elevate Polish-Azerbaijani relations to a higher level.

Thank you.


Statement by Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski

- Dear Mr. President,

Dear ladies and gentlemen!

First of all, I am grateful for the invitation to visit Azerbaijan. At the same time, I am grateful for the kind words about Poland. I want to emphasize that our contacts are rapidly developing. In fact, these contacts are taking place at both political and other levels, and I think they will develop in all spheres of public life. I am sure that Poland and Azerbaijan are playing important parts in their respective regions, and their role is gradually enhancing. This is confirmed by the fact that we are witnessing rapid economic growth in both Azerbaijan and Poland. Last year economic growth in Azerbaijan was very high. This brings a lot of respect for your country, and we are very happy about that. We are confident that this cooperation, this relationship is natural, and now we must explore for new areas of cooperation. Economic relations between Poland and Azerbaijan should develop. We believe that today's economic forum is very important. It will be attended not only by Polish experts, but also by representatives of Polish relevant ministries and agencies. We will also have meetings with representatives of Azerbaijani political elite.

Our relations are the relations between two states. We can say that both our countries gained independence at the same time, and it brought us freedom. We have taken prudent steps to ensure that our independence is strong, to lay a solid foundation for economic cooperation. In essence, this is not a standard cooperation, this cooperation is above standards. I want to draw your attention to a number of facts that influence Polish-Azerbaijani relations, as these facts go beyond them. This applies, in particular, to Azerbaijan's relations with the European Union, with Europe. As you know, Poland currently has presidency in the European Union. Thus, Poland sets the agenda of the entire EU, including the direction of relations with non-EU countries.

We know that Mr. President will participate in the Warsaw summit due in September. In essence, this will be a summit of Eastern Partnership states. I want to say that Poland is interested in Azerbaijan’s achievements. We would like the negotiations between Azerbaijan and the European Union on the Association Agreement to be successful. We must be bound together by the same principles, the same rules. This represents particular importance for a further development of relations between the West and Azerbaijan. It is also very important for Polish-Azerbaijani relations.

We have reviewed and discussed many issues, talked about regional politics and the influence of our larger neighbors on regional developments. We have also discussed energy cooperation. Poland has reaffirmed its readiness to contribute to energy supplies. I think this is important not only for our country, but also for the EU as a whole. There is a project approved by the European Union – the Odessa-Brody-Plock-Gdansk project. This project is considered relevant, and I want to say that when it comes to importance, the importance of this project from a commercial point of view is growing.

We believe that the most important issues here are not only political but also those of commercial viability because they are important for this project. So I want to say that Azerbaijani oil is already reaching the refineries operating on Polish capital. One million tons of Azerbaijani oil reach the refineries every year. It reaches our enterprises and plants located in the Czech Republic. This means that you are close to our borders. This means that we must make effort to resolve energy issues in our region. We believe that this should be done in an absolutely sound manner.

Thank you very much.


Then the heads of state answered journalists’ questions.


I have a question for President Komorowski. You have indicated that you will continue cooperating, you spoke about the Odessa-Brody-Gdansk pipeline. Can you provide information about that?

Bronislaw Komorowski: I would request you to ask this question at the forum. During the forum to be held at five o'clock today the discussion will be conducted by people who are directly involved with the project. They are members of my delegation. There is also a representative of Poland in Sarmatia. In essence, they are a party to this project. From a political point of view, we support this project. As for decision-making and further improvements to infrastructure, we need to have a specific business plan. We need to know how much oil can flow into the system and how much oil we will take.

I have a question for Mr. Komorowski. Armenia still occupies 20 per cent of Azerbaijani territory. Despite four UN resolutions demanding a withdrawal of Armenian armed forces from these lands, resolutions of the EU, the Council of Europe, etc., Armenia keeps flouting the calls of the OSCE and the documents mentioned by President Ilham Aliyev which also demand immediate compliance with these demands. Armenia occupies Azerbaijani territories, which represents a major threat not only to Azerbaijan but also to the region and all of Europe. Mr. President, we know your position, the position of Poland. But we would like to hear your suggestions. How can Azerbaijan get out of this situation? Thank you.

First of all, I am sharing in your grief. Because there are problems that interfere with the functionality of the region. With regard to the region, Azerbaijan is known in this part of the world as a country contributing to stability, the stability factor. I have told Mr. President: if there was a formula whereby we could somewhat depart from this difficult issue, so that the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan could be resolved in peace. We too have difficult experience. We know how important the issue of territorial integrity is. It is sacred. But at the same time, the right of peoples to self-determination is also important. Where there are conflicts, these principles have been approved. The most dangerous thing is that someone, depending on geography and the political environment, has approached this from different perspectives.

We in Poland have bitter experience. We have had a very difficult and complex history, the past. Historically, we had lands inhabited by ethnic and religious minorities. I want to say that the biggest achievement of my generation, a generation of "Solidarity", is that we have eliminated hatred and intolerance. Poland has had very complicated relations with its very powerful neighbor. There have been processes damaging our relations with Germany, Russia and Ukraine. But we have succeeded in overcoming these historical difficulties. Now we are taking steps in a totally different environment, in an atmosphere of integration. This is an atmosphere of European integration, completely new living conditions. So, naturally, we are in favor of this conflict being fully resolved, so that the peoples of this region could live decent lives in quiet conditions. This is why the Minsk Group has been established. It is dealing with the issue. However, I want to say that those affected by the conflict have suffered a lot, and I would like to see these people telling us which way to go, to be actively involved in resolving the conflict. To do this, it is extremely important to find a way into people’s hearts, to be closer to the hearts of those living in the region.

President Komorowski touched upon the security issue. Considering the recent developments in Norway, what is your approach to security issues within the European Union? Should there be an atmosphere of even greater isolation?

And this question is to President Aliyev. You will attend the Eastern Partnership summit in Warsaw. What is your vision of cooperation in this area?

Bronislaw Komorowski: I would like you to ask more questions about my visit to Azerbaijan. You have asked me a question that concerns an entirely different problem. It concerns security and democracy in our region. I want to say that what happened in Norway is unheard of. In essence, the level of hostility is an important factor not only between nations and ethnic minorities, but also between certain groups, and it must be eliminated. I agree with the position of the Norwegian Prime Minister. I am sharing in his grief. In such a difficult situation I have said that we should work on building an open democracy. We are talking about a democracy where there will be conditions for representatives of other peoples and nations. This will lead us into the future. We must find ways of addressing this issue within ourselves. So if we go this way, we can avoid a recurrence of such events and tragedies.

President Ilham Aliyev: I want to state that Azerbaijan resolutely condemns the monstrous act of terror that has occurred in Norway. We resolutely condemn all forms of terrorism. On behalf of the Azerbaijani state I would like to express our condolences to the next of kin and relatives of those killed in Norway and wish those wounded a speedy recovery.

Azerbaijan, also a country affected by terrorism, empathizes with the grief of the Norwegian people. Armenian terrorist organizations have committed more than 30 acts of terror against us. More than 2,000 peaceful Azerbaijani citizens have been killed as a result of these acts. Terror against us is still ongoing.

With regard to the relations between the European Union and Azerbaijan, in particular the Eastern Partnership program, Azerbaijan joined the program with very high hopes. Prior to that, a new neighborhood program was implemented. In general, the relations between the EU and Azerbaijan already have a long history. The visit by European Commission President Mr. Barroso to Azerbaijan this year and my visit to Belgium last month have taken these relations to a higher level.

We do hope that the Eastern Partnership program will have a specific meaning. There have been was quite a few good intentions. Political statements have been made, the necessary framework identified. I think it is time for the Eastern Partnership program to acquire a specific substance. Both Europe and Azerbaijan should be able to clearly see the benefits of this program, the benefits of this program for Europe and Azerbaijan, for specific people.

I think that the current level of the EU-Azerbaijan relations provides grounds for that. We expect the program to produce specific results, so that the relations between Europe and Azerbaijan could further expand, so that Azerbaijan could get closer to Europe and Azerbaijani citizens could feel the benefits of this program in their daily lives. These are our hopes. At the same time, I want to say that in cooperating with European institutions we have always respected the principle of equality. I want to reiterate that we see our role as an equal partner of the European Union and both parties can and should make their contributions in the interests of both sides.

I have a question for the President of Poland. What specific mutual investment projects have been discussed between Azerbaijan and Poland?

Bronislaw Komorowski: We will speak about these investment projects at the forum. I want to say that Azerbaijan is an important trading partner of Poland. This is due to the fact that Poland is a buyer of Azerbaijan’s energy resources. I think the time has come. We know that Azerbaijan has the financial, investment opportunities, we believe that the Polish economy is also growing, that Poland is also investing in foreign countries, and that we are rising to a new level. In essence, thanks to this level we will obtain certain opportunities, investment opportunities. So we are talking about investment that will apply not to some specific frames, but to new areas. I think that major investment could be made in the processing industry, in agricultural production. We can establish cooperation in the field of environmental protection. Poland has experience in this field. Unfortunately, the environment has been seriously polluted in the past. But today we are proud to say that Poland is applying European criteria in this sphere. Poland has a wonderful nature, which is our greatest asset even though there are no great achievements or results of cooperation in this area.

There are a number of other areas. The delegation includes representatives of business circles, and I think that after their talks certain steps will be taken to facilitate investment. A number of individuals could be involved in this. Poland is interested in establishing cooperation in this field. Poland is already working in this area. We can cooperate with Azerbaijan in other areas, other industrial sectors. We think we must not only assess the work already done, but also explore the opportunities for mutual investment so as to work in this sphere together.