Joint press conference of Ilham Aliyev and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was held

11 september 2012, 21:00

After the signing ceremony at the end of the second meeting of the High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council in Gabala, a joint press conference of President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was held.

First, President Ilham Aliyev and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan made statements for the press.

Statement by President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev

- Dear Prime Minister, dear brother!

Distinguished guests!

Ladies and gentlemen!

Dear brother, I sincerely welcome you to Azerbaijan, to our country! I welcome all our Turkish brothers.

Today we held the second meeting of the High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council. As you know, the first meeting was held very successfully in Izmir last year. The decisions made at the first meeting are successfully implemented. Today we, first of all, assessed the work done, analyzed it and exchanged views on additional steps to further our cooperation.

In general, I can say that Turkish-Azerbaijani relations are developing successfully in all areas and cover all spheres. The agenda of today's meeting is also very broad. We had a broad discussion on a number of important issues and I want to say again that there is no disagreement between us – our views overlap on international affairs and on bilateral ties.

Today, both during our one-on-one meeting and in the expanded negotiations we exchanged views on the political situation and global affairs. Our countries support each other in all areas and in all international organizations. Today our ministers informed us about the work done, we discussed new initiatives for joint activities in the future. We speak with one voice and support each other in all international organizations. This support is very important for us, for the region and the world. Today, Turkish-Azerbaijani relations are important not only for the development of bilateral relations, they also play a stabilizing role in promoting peace, stability and security in the region. Our role in the world is growing, and mutual support further enhances the value of our countries.

With regard to international issues, of course, we discussed the consequences of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the efforts made in the negotiations. I informed my dear brother about the current status of negotiations. As you know, the injustice and the expansionist policy towards Azerbaijan are still ongoing. Nagorno-Karabakh, which is internationally recognized Azerbaijani land, and surrounding districts have been occupied by Armenian aggressors for 20 years. All norms of international law and justice have been breached, historical justice has been violated. We aim to resolve this issue peacefully. But the unconstructive and hypocritical stance of Armenia does not allow us to achieve this. Azerbaijan's position is unequivocal: international law, Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity must be restored, the issue can be resolved only on the basis of the principle of territorial integrity. I take this opportunity to express our gratitude to the Turkish state and government on behalf of the Azerbaijani people for their stance on this issue.

Of course, we talked about the new prospects for our economic relations today. Our turnover is growing rapidly. Although the volume of our trade is not yet satisfactory, the dynamics is very positive. If we can maintain and increase this pace, our turnover will be measured by even greater numbers in the near future.

Our energy cooperation is traditional. I can say that the cooperation in the energy sector of the economy, as always, is a priority. The meeting in Izmir was followed by important developments. We have signed the TANAP project, which has reverberated greatly in the world. This is an important step towards reforming the global energy policy. The international attention to the TANAP project shows that Turkey and Azerbaijan, as always, took joint initiative and assumed responsibility at the right time to launch this major project. I do hope that we will implement the TANAP project, as agreed, in the next five years. Thus, Azerbaijan will become an important supplier of gas to Turkey. Besides, Azerbaijani gas will be transported to Europe via Turkey.

Another important project is related to the transport sector. This project has also secured a place among major projects – the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway. The ministers provided information today, we talked about future projects. This project is our joint initiative. But today we see again that other countries, our partner countries are showing interest in this project and want to join it. We welcome that. This is a project linking Turkey with Azerbaijan and Georgia, and also Georgia with Azerbaijan. It has already become international.

We also discussed issues of military-technical cooperation. Cooperation in this area is based on the principles of brotherhood and friendship. Joint initiatives have been put forward. I can say that there is great progress in this area in recent years.

We have discussed issues of communication and information technologies. In other words, there has been a meeting of cabinets of the two countries. At least as far as Azerbaijan is concerned, a third of our Cabinet of Ministers is in attendance today. This is in itself an indicator that our bilateral agenda is quite broad, meaningful, sincere and positive.

I am very pleased that we have discussed all the issues in an atmosphere of friendship and brotherhood. I want to reiterate that underlying our relations are the mutual feelings of the two peoples, mutual support of the two states. This support exists. I want to say again that this support plays a positive role in regional issues.

Dear brother, I cordially welcome you to Azerbaijan again. I wish you good health and success. I am sure that the documents we have signed today will be implemented by our next meeting.


Statement by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan

- I would like to thank my dear brother too!

My greetings and respect for honorable ministers, distinguished participants of the meeting, esteemed representatives of the press.

Conducting the second meeting of the High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council in Gabala today, we really feel a sense of joy and satisfaction. On behalf of all my colleagues I express my heartfelt gratitude to my dear brother for this hospitality. I am particularly grateful for the opportunity to get to know the city of Gabala, which is of great historical importance for Azerbaijan.

We discussed really important issues of political, military, cultural and economic nature today. We held a bilateral meeting, our ministers have also held meetings. As you know, we have taken very important steps in the energy sector, and our ministers met with each other again.

At the same time, this joint meeting resembles a joint session of the Cabinet of Ministers of the two countries. We have held a Cabinet meeting together with the President. We have assessed the period after the Izmir meeting, discussed what we can do in the future, what steps we can take.

Our foreign trade turnover, which was $1 billion 10 years ago, has now reached $3.5 billion. In the past seven months, the figure was $2.6 billion. If we work even more persistently and assertively, I believe we will be able to reach a level of foreign trade of $5 billion, which was initially scheduled for 2015, by the end of this year.

The volume of trade of $5 billion will provide us with a turnover of $10 billion in 2015. Later, in 2020, we will bring it to $20 billion, because there is a growing and developing Azerbaijan, and there is a growing and developing Turkey. By developing cooperation between the brotherly and friendly countries and approaching this process from the position, as stated by the late creator President Heydar Aliyev, “one nation in two states”, we can and we will bring this figure up to a higher level. There are no obstacles in our way. We have defined steps in all the spheres. As I said earlier, my dear brother and I signed the TANAP project at Dolmabahce in Istanbul. The process started then and, Inshallah, the mechanisms will start operating in the near future.

Of course, this project will leave a special mark in history. It is a process of discovering Azerbaijani gas for Turkey and Europe. With each passing day I become more and more convinced that this project will attract international interest to the region. We do realize our responsibility. We also have the TASMUS project, which is of great importance in the implementation of joint steps in the matters of electronic communication of defense industries. Our respective ministers are working hard in this area.

Our countries share warm bilateral relations. In addition, our cooperation in the international arena, in all international institutions is at a level that can truly lead by example.

Now, as you know, Azerbaijan is a nonpermanent member of the UN Security Council, which is very important for us.

After Azerbaijan completes its mission in the UN Security Council, Turkey will become a candidate for membership in this organization in 2015-2016. Turkey's nonpermanent membership in this structure will also serve to strengthen our cooperation.

The cultural relations between our countries are developing. In addition, we are taking steps in organizational development, and this will be continued. Both sides have the desire to continue this cooperation. The implementation of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project is powering ahead.

Along with this, we have thoroughly discussed many details. By building the Nakhchivan-Igdir railway, we, Inshallah, will speed up the work that will link Turkey and Azerbaijan by railway. The establishment of communication between Nakhchivan and Igdir will start a very important process between Turkey and Azerbaijan.

I will conclude my statement, and my dear brother has made the necessary statements, by saying that in general, our thoughts overlap. The second meeting of the High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council will further accelerate this process. Inshallah, we will hold the third meeting in our country again next year. We conduct such meetings not in capitals but in different parts of the country. This is an excellent opportunity to introduce our regions.

Thank you. I also want to thank you on behalf of all our friends for your hospitality.


Then President Ilham Aliyev and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan answered questions from journalists.

Turkish channel NTV: Prime Minister, a new terrorist attack has been committed in Sultanqazi. What is your assessment? Can you share the latest information? And one more question. The decision has been made in Syria to hold elections. Bashar al-Assad has said that if he loses the election, he will leave this time. What do you think about his statement?

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan: First, regarding the terrorist attack in Sultanqazi. Based on the information received, we already know the group that claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack. Reports have been circulated. It was an attack on a police station. One person has been killed. Four police officers were wounded. Two other citizens have been wounded. I was informed that the condition of the wounded is not severe. I pray to Allah to grant them recuperation, May Allah bless the soul of our martyr, I wish patience to his close ones. As you know, the incident was the result of a bomb explosion by a suicide bomber. The identity of the person who committed the crime has been established. At present, all security structures and the police are investigating his connections.

As to your second question, the election to be held in Syria does not inspire confidence.

The results of the election to be held in an environment where there is no trust are known in advance. There is civil war in Syria now. The results of the election to be held under such conditions are already known. As you know, they held elections before. The majority of the Syrian people did not vote in the elections because there was no sound basis. As long as there is no sound basis there, elections will have no value. Decisions have been passed in Geneva. The Syrian regime has not fulfilled the Geneva decisions. If it had fulfilled them, it could have moved further. The reason why Kofi Annan resigned is known. Currently this post is held by Mr. Landar Brahimi. But he is already aware of the difficulty of the task ahead. Under such circumstances there is no healthy democratic basis. And as long as there is no sound basis, it is impossible to recognize the results of elections held in such an environment.

“Khazar” TV correspondent Turkan Verdiyeva: Hello, dear Prime Minister. An important role in the economic cooperation between the two countries is played, in particular, by investments. As part of today's meeting of the High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council, what is your outlook for the prospects of major Turkish investments in Azerbaijan in response to Azerbaijan's steps in this direction?

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan: At present, there are already excellent initiatives in this issue. It is thanks to them that investments in Azerbaijan have reached $10 billion. The goal is to increase this amount to $20 billion as soon as possible. Work in this direction is under way. Of course, there is more collaboration. We even say that it is necessary to go further, to open the way for Azerbaijani and Turkish investment into third countries. We want to continue this work successfully.

Correspondent of Anatolian agency Hasan Oymez: I have a question for Mr. President. We are at a stage when cooperation between the two countries is gradually increasing. Is anything being done for this cooperation to reach the culminating point of abolition of visa requirements for the citizens of the Republic of Turkey on the border? Can we get this news from you? In addition, is the TANAP project being rescheduled to an earlier date than planned? Work was done on two alternative projects for Azerbaijani gas to reach Europe from Turkey. Is there clarity on this issue?
President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev: As you noted, we have multifaceted relations. They cover all areas. We try to resolve all issues in all areas and do so in a timely manner.

Regarding visas, you are well aware that some time ago the Turkish state canceled visa regulations for citizens of all Turkic states. Thus, the citizens of all Turkic states are free to travel to Turkey and we are very grateful for this decision. As for Azerbaijan, this issue was discussed today. The decision was made to come to this gradually. There are certain categories of people – businessmen, scientists, well-known people, to whom we can apply simplified regulations. In general, some of our mechanisms and internal procedures have not been completed yet. Once these procedures are completed, the citizens of Turkey will be able to come to Azerbaijan without a visa. We are working on this issue. This issue was discussed. The Turkish side understands the position of Azerbaijan on this issue. We will work together to take important steps to resolve this issue.

As for the TANAP project, as I said in my opening remarks, it is a purely Azerbaijani-Turkish project. For many years, we discussed various options and projects for the supply of Azerbaijani gas to Europe. Unfortunately, none of them was implemented. In this situation, two fraternal countries took full responsibility, including financial. The advantage of TANAP is that we will realize this project together. This project is open to third parties too. The remaining interest may be transferred to partner companies. Thus, TANAP can be given an international status.

The main thing is to deliver Azerbaijani gas to Turkey and further to Europe in larger volumes.

Once this gas reaches Europe, the question of the ways in which it will enter Europe will be purely technical and economic. Geography dictates that our gas will flow to Europe through either Bulgaria or Greece. Currently, SOCAR and partners are considering all options. Preference will be given to the most acceptable, secure and cost-effective option. But I also want to note that European Union countries are building interconnecting pipelines. After entering Europe from any location, Azerbaijani gas can cover broad European space. I do hope that this project will be completed in 2017.

Thank you.

Correspondent of Public Television Elchin Mirzayev: My question is for Mr. Erdogan. Prime Minister, at a time when negotiations over the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict are still ongoing, some circles, without paying attention to that, have been tabling the issue of opening the border between Turkey and Armenia. I would like to know your position on this issue.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan: Thank you. Regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict: until this problem has not been resolved, of course, by the OSCE Minsk Group, and until the issue of one or two districts has been resolved, there can be no talk of us opening the doors, etc. We have been saying this all the time we have been in power. We can’t take such a step. The aim of all the steps we are taking is as follows: the Armenians must leave the lands that are now occupied.

Although international organizations have been stating that these are Azerbaijani lands, they have yet to be returned to their true owners. We are clearly expressing our position. Our position, the decisive steps we are taking in relation to Armenia will remain unchanged. As a party interested in this process, we will always stand by Azerbaijan.