A meeting through video conferencing was held between President Ilham Aliyev and President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov

21 january 2021, 12:10

A meeting through video conferencing has been held between President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov in connection with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Government of Turkmenistan on joint exploration and development of hydrocarbon resources of the "Dostlug" field in the Caspian Sea.

The Turkmen and Azerbaijani presidents made speeches at the event.

Remarks by the President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov

- Dear Ilham Heydar oglu, first of all, let me cordially greet you and express my gratitude for participating in this meeting.

It is a significant day in the traditionally friendly and fraternal relations between Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan. The Government of Turkmenistan and the Government of the Republic of Azerbaijan are signing a Memorandum of Understanding on joint exploration and development of hydrocarbon resources of the "Dostlug" field in the Caspian Sea. This document, which is the result of many years of work between our countries, is aimed at strengthening cooperation and mutual understanding in the field of energy, unlocking the joint potential of the two largest energy states, creating the most favorable conditions for sustainable energy, and further reinforcing our mutually beneficial and international partnership.

As you may know, during my official visit to Baku in March 2020, we discussed and analyzed in detail the opportunities for bilateral cooperation in the field of energy in the Caspian Sea. As a result, an agreement was reached on joint work on one of the largest hydrocarbon fields in the Caspian Sea. It was emphasized that this activity's main principles would be solidarity, mutual respect, and support. Therefore, our joint decision to call this field "Dostlug" has a deep symbolic meaning. There is no doubt that the agreements mentioned above and decisions will go down in our relations and states' history as a shining example of true good neighborliness, responsibility and foresight, equality of rights, and consideration of each other's interests. They will, of course, further strengthen the friendship and brotherhood between the peoples of Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan and between our countries.

Without a doubt, the Memorandum signing marks a fundamentally new stage in the energy cooperation between Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan in the Caspian Sea. New opportunities for joint work based on a solid international legal framework are opening up. Additional serious incentives are emerging for the inflow of significant foreign investments into our region on a systematic and long-term basis. I want to take this opportunity to express my deep gratitude to the specialists and experts of the two countries and all those who contributed to the preparation of this document.

Dear Ilham Heydar oglu, the relations between Turkmenistan and the Republic of Azerbaijan are developing consistently and dynamically today. We successfully cooperate in the international arena as supporters of shared peace, stability and security. Our countries share the same views on energy security, the configuration of international energy flows and the architecture of world energy as a whole, which are fundamental issues on the global agenda. It is necessary to emphasize the active and effective interaction of the two countries in international organizations. Turkmenistan expresses its gratitude to Azerbaijan for its continued support of its global initiatives and as a co-author of a number of draft resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly put forward by Turkmenistan. In turn, I confirm that Turkmenistan is ready to support the initiatives and proposals put forward by Azerbaijan in international organizations. In this context, I would like to note the Republic of Azerbaijan's excellent chairmanship in the Non-Aligned Movement. It is further evidence of the high authority of Azerbaijan and its leadership. During the successful Non-Aligned Movement Summit in October 2019, Turkmenistan was committed to building a global energy security system based on fair and transparent principles, equal use of energy resources and delivery, and consideration and recognition of the interests of energy producers, suppliers and consumers.

Interaction on the Caspian Sea is the most critical area of Turkmenistan-Azerbaijan cooperation. Our countries have made an outstanding contribution to transforming the Caspian Sea into a zone of lasting peace, good neighborliness, mutual understanding and fruitful partnership. According to all Caspian littoral states, the Caspian Sea is a sea of peace and good neighborliness. The signing of the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea by the five littoral states' leaders in August 2018 was the result of multilateral cooperation. This Convention marked the beginning of a new phase of cooperation in the Caspian Sea, including the field of energy. During the first Caspian Economic Forum held in Turkmenbashi in 2019, we had significant and useful talks with the delegation of the Government of Azerbaijan and reached some important agreements. Today, we need to understand the need to consistently strengthen bilateral relations, the overlapping long-term interests in key areas of cooperation in the Caspian Sea, the excellent prospects for our states, other littoral countries, neighboring regions and sizeable international business in the Caspian Sea.

The transport sector is also an essential area of our partnership. Together with Afghan, Georgian and Turkish partners, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan are actively working today on the effective functioning of the Lapis-Lazuli transport corridor, designed to become the crucial continental highway between Asia and Europe. Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan have also initiated a transport communication system along the Caspian Sea-Black Sea route.

Dear Ilham Heydar oglu, together, we are embarking on a large, meaningful and very promising project. I am convinced that Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan's joint work at the "Dostlug" field will be successful and effective. I sincerely thank you for supporting this historic document, for your great attention and personal contribution to the development and strengthening of friendship, brotherhood and cooperation between our peoples and states. I congratulate you on today's significant event. I wish you good health and continued achievements in your state and political activities. I also ask you to convey the wishes of peace, well-being and prosperity to the entire people of Azerbaijan.

Thank you for your attention. Dear participants of the signing ceremony, it is with deep respect that I am giving the floor to His Excellency, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Heydar oglu Aliyev. The floor is yours, brother.

Remarks by the President Ilham Aliyev:

-Thank you, brother. Dear Mr. President, dear Gurbarnguly Myalikgulyevich. I am delighted to see you. I regret that I could not attend the ceremony in brotherly Turkmenistan today. But this is obviously not possible yet due to the pandemic. Nevertheless, we have the opportunity to meet in the format of a video conference today, discuss important issues and witness the signing of a landmark document that reflects both the nature and spirit of our fraternal and friendly relations. I am deeply convinced that without close political interaction between our countries at all levels, primarily at the presidents' level, the signing of the document would be impossible today.

Dear Gurbanguly Myalikgulyevich, we have made joint efforts to ensure that our countries' relevant agencies work precisely as the presidents led the way – in the spirit of cooperation, friendship, mutual support and correct understanding of mutual interests. Therefore, I would call today's document historic because Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan are starting joint work on the development of a field in the Caspian Sea for the first time, and this field and work on the field will bring our countries and peoples even closer together and benefit both the Azerbaijani and Turkmen peoples.

Our countries' relations have been on an upward trend in recent years. It is enough to look at the chronology of mutual visits at the highest level. Over the past three years, five visits of the presidents of Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan and other reciprocal visits took place. During these visits, more than 50 documents were signed. For comparison, let me note that more than 100 documents have been signed throughout our relationship's entire history, half of which were signed in the last three years. The most gratifying thing is that they are all being implemented, including the agreements we have reached on cooperation in the energy sector. Today's signing ceremony opens a new page in developing the Caspian's hydrocarbon resources. This project will contribute to the strengthening of our countries' energy security and that of our neighbors. This project opens up great export opportunities, thereby contributing to our peoples' prosperity.

I would also like to touch upon the issues of bilateral cooperation. You have also talked about this. Therefore, I fully support your words that we actively support each other in international institutions. I want to take this opportunity to congratulate you and the entire brotherly Turkmen people on the anniversary of the neutrality of Turkmenistan celebrated last year. I must say again that Azerbaijan was a co-author of the UN General Assembly resolution on the eternal neutrality of Turkmenistan. I also express my gratitude for your assessment of Azerbaijan's activities as chair of the Non-Aligned Movement. I want to express my appreciation for supporting our initiatives launched under Azerbaijan's chairmanship, to hold a Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, Summit of the Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States, and a special session of the UN General Assembly on the fight against coronavirus. This mutual support reflects the spirit and nature of our relationship. I am sure that we will actively cooperate in the international arena to ensure our national interests in the future.

You have already noted, dear Gurbanguly Myalikgulyevich, our cooperation in the transport sector. This cooperation opens up excellent prospects for both our countries and our neighbors. Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan seem to have synchronized their projects to create a transport infrastructure, namely, modern international seaports, which work in close cooperation, ensure the transit of goods through our territories, and increase trade possibilities between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan. I am sure that transport and logistical cooperation between our countries will reach an even higher level in the future. Considering the current new situation in our region and the possibility of opening new transport routes, I think that this will present additional opportunities for all our partners and neighbors.

I would like to specifically note your personal contribution to the strengthening of Turkmenistan's transport and logistical potential. Because in matters related to transit, it is impossible to achieve results without interaction with neighboring countries. We see advanced transportation and logistical infrastructure today, and it is evidence of Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan's focused activities in this area. It ushers ample opportunities for all countries of our region and even those far from the region – in Eurasia. After all, the transport sector brings countries together, just like the energy sector. The fact that we are signing this Memorandum today – I want to repeat it – is a significant event that will have positive consequences.

I would also like to touch upon another issue you have mentioned – regional cooperation. There is already a trilateral cooperation format involving Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Turkey, and another involving Azerbaijan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. This cooperation is aimed at a specific result, at creating more favorable conditions for doing business and for the implementation of large infrastructure projects.

Of course, I would like to emphasize the progressive development of Turkmenistan under your wise leadership, dear Gurbanguly Myalikgulyevich. You confidently lead your country along the path of growth, solving the most critical problems of social life and launching infrastructure projects not confined to your nation's borders. I am also aware of your investment policy in neighboring countries. Without this, it would be impossible to implement the Lapis-Lazuli project today. Many may not know that it was thanks to the wise policy of Turkmenistan on investments in neighboring Afghanistan that the railway became a reality, and today it ensures the delivery of goods from Afghanistan through Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan and beyond. Therefore, I would like to note that our shared approach to cooperation with countries of the region and the solution of critical issues both for our neighbors and for us have created entirely new realities today. As you noted, the Caspian is a sea of good-neighborliness, a sea of cooperation. Today, as two independent energy powers, we are making another contribution to strengthening cooperation in the Caspian. I am sure that the Caspian Sea will continue – although it is a natural border between our countries – to unite our nations and peoples. Taking this opportunity, I would like to ask you to convey to the brotherly people of Turkmenistan the best wishes for prosperity, development, peace and well-being.

Thank you for your attention.

President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov: Thank you for your informative speech and kind words about Turkmenistan and its people.

And now, with your consent, we will move on to the ceremony of signing a historically significant document between Turkmenistan and the Republic of Azerbaijan.

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The Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Government of Turkmenistan on joint exploration and development of hydrocarbon resources of the "Dostlug field" in the Caspian Sea was signed.

The document was signed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan Jeyhun Bayramov and the Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan Rashid Meredov.

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President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov said:

Dear Ilham Heydar oglu, first of all, I congratulate you and all our Azerbaijani brothers on the signing of a historic document – the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Turkmenistan and the Government of the Republic of Azerbaijan on joint exploration and development of the "Dostlug" hydrocarbon field in the Caspian Sea. It is a truly significant event in our countries and peoples' lives. It is aimed at strengthening our friendship and cooperation. For many years, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, as two independent states, have been consistently developing relations in the widest range of directions. I should emphasize that the basis of effective bilateral relations is an open, constructive and friendly political dialogue established at the highest state level. During our regular meetings, important topics are discussed on how to expand bilateral partnership in the political, diplomatic, trade, economic, cultural, humanitarian and other spheres. Of course, the results of such contacts become the subject of further work of the governments and foreign affairs agencies of the two states. In this context, I would like to note with satisfaction the intensification of the activities of the Turkmen and Azerbaijani state bodies, i.e., those responsible for implementing the agreements reached at the presidential level. In turn, this should encourage both sides to search and implement new ideas and initiatives to maximize the use of the immense opportunities the Turkmenistan-Azerbaijan cooperation offers. Going back to the significance of the signed Memorandum, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that this document opens a fundamentally new stage of the partnership between Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan in the strategic direction – the energy sector. For this, we have everything we need – political will, a high level of technical and technological equipment, highly qualified personnel and vast experience in the oil and gas industry. However, the main guarantee of successful joint activities in the Caspian is our strong brotherly ties between the Turkmen and Azerbaijani peoples that have existed for many centuries. I want to emphasize the contribution to Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan's mutual aspiration in creating an atmosphere of lasting peace, good-neighborliness, mutual understanding, and cooperation in the Caspian region. As a result of the high political and diplomatic engagement of our two countries, it has become possible to hold summits and other high forums of the Caspian states regularly in recent decades. A modern international legal framework that meets the coastal countries' current and future needs has been created, which determines the main parameters of multilateral cooperation in the Caspian Sea in such important areas as security, economy, and ecology. In many respects, this became possible due to the high level of mutual understanding between Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan and the commonality of our approaches to resolving all issues of the Caspian agenda.

In general, I have a high assessment of Turkmen-Azerbaijani relations and want to note the effectiveness and positive dynamics of bilateral partnership and interaction. Once again, I congratulate you, dear Ilham Heydarovich, on today's historic event. Once again, I wish you good health, further success in your multifaceted state activities, and peace, happiness and prosperity to fraternal Azerbaijan. Thank you again for your attention. Of course, I would like to give the floor to His Excellency, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ilham Heydar oglu Aliyev. Please, brother.

President Ilham Aliyev said:

-Thank you, dear brother. Today, we have already said that this is a historic day in our relations. I am sure that today's signing will have a very positive effect on the development of regional cooperation. You have already noted the cooperation among Caspian littoral countries, which is also developing very dynamically, in the spirit of mutual understanding and mutual support. This has resulted in the signing of the Convention on the Status of the Caspian Sea. The Caspian countries have shown goodwill and political determination. And after many years of discussion, the Convention, which opens up new opportunities for countries to develop energy resources, and joint activities to protect the Caspian, were agreed upon. We must continue to do everything to protect this unique reservoir through joint effort, which brings that many benefits to our peoples. Today, watching the signing, I thought that our forefathers, probably, if they saw this ceremony today, would be happy today. Their souls rejoice, so to speak. They would be proud of us that two fraternal peoples go hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder today, confidently support each other, cooperate for good and the future of their peoples, thereby ensuring the progressive development of our countries for many years and decades to come.

I would also like to note today that this ceremony results from many years of consistent action by our countries to strengthen independence, sovereignty and economic potential. Today, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan have asserted themselves in the international arena as countries that can justifiably talk about an independent foreign and domestic policy. Unfortunately, this is not very common in the world today. Our countries are completely self-sufficient. They do not depend on international loans, foreign aid or any other forms and types of external influence. We are strongly attached to our national, moral and ethical traditions. This is a foundation that leads us forward. Today, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan are relatively young independent states. Our independence is less than 30 years old, but we have been able to achieve tremendous successes over these years. These successes lead us forward today, and we solve significant issues related to social well-being, economic development and global, transnational projects. We are countries open to investment. Foreign companies confidently invest large amounts in both Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan because they are confident that their funds will be protected. They are confident of our countries' political stability, which is also the most important factor in development today. Development is impossible without stability. Stability leads to prosperity and investment, drawing the largest international companies' attention, thereby strengthening the role of countries in the international arena and their influence. Speaking about the similarity of our countries both historically and culturally and our common roots, the commonality of our language, common religion, of course, we have transformed this positive background into such effective cooperation today. So are signing not just a memorandum on a field in the Caspian today. We are taking a significant step for the future successful development of our relations. Dear Gurbanguly Myalikgulyevich, I would like to congratulate you again. Please convey my best wishes to the fraternal Turkmen people. I wish you good health and success in your endeavors. I would also like to note your tremendous efforts in landscaping and urban planning. I know that you personally manage urban development projects in Ashgabat and other cities. Therefore, when we visit Ashgabat as friends and as brothers, we are sincerely glad that a modern, beautiful and comfortable city has been created for its residents. It is the result of many years of your efforts to develop the country and your commitment and dedication to your people. In conclusion, as if confirming our commonness, I want to say words that will be understood in Turkmenistan too – Long live the Azerbaijani-Turkmen friendship.

President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov: Thank you very much for your speech, brother.

President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you.