Press conference of Ilham Aliyev and President of the Republic of Latvia Andris Berzins was held
24 april 2013, 13:00
After the meeting in an expanded format with the participation of delegations, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and President of the Republic of Latvia Andris Berzins held a press conference.
First the heads of state made statements.
Statement by President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev
- Dear Mr. President!
Please allow me to warmly welcome you to Azerbaijan again!
Your visit is of great importance. The negotiations and exchange of opinions we have conducted today show once again that Latvian-Azerbaijani relations are at a high level. There is a very active political dialogue between us. There are no problems between us at the political level. We actively cooperate and support each other in international organizations.
Of course, we strive to ensure that communication in all areas is in line with the level of our political relations. First of all, I would like to mention the economic sphere. Despite the fact that there has been great progress in the economic sphere in recent years, the turnover is still not up to the standard. I believe that we have to achieve growth of our turnover together. I think that the possibilities for this are available. The business forum upcoming today should make a contribution to the development of relations between business entities. I believe that we should consider the investment projects in the economic sphere. There are already preliminary proposals. I want to say that Azerbaijan has already started to invest in foreign markets. This is already producing excellent results. We must work on specific projects in order to increase the turnover.
At the same time, additional opportunities can be set up to expand the activities of Latvian companies in Azerbaijan. I believe that these opportunities may be explored as part of the business forum. There has been great development in Azerbaijan in recent years and a number of projects are being implemented. Of course, we would like Latvian companies to work even more actively in Azerbaijan as contractors.
Today, we have also touched on energy issues. Azerbaijan has become a partner country for the European Union in terms of energy security. There are documents to prove that. Azerbaijan’s rich oil and gas resources are supplied to world markets via different routes. I believe that cooperation with the European Union in this area may rise to a new level in the coming years. At the same time, there are good opportunities to address energy issues in the bilateral format.
Today we also exchanged views on the establishment of the transport infrastructure and cooperation in the field of transport. As a result of these projects, we can resolve the issues of regional cooperation in a broad sense. The relations between countries of the Caspian, Black and Baltic Sea regions largely depend on the transport infrastructure. For its part, Azerbaijan is committed to resolving these issues. The large transportation projects carried out on our initiative are bearing fruit.
We have also had an exchange of views on foreign policy and can see again that there is no disagreement in this regard. In general, both during our one-on-one meeting and at the meeting with the participation of delegations we discussed a wide range of issues. I want to mention the humanitarian sphere. There is a need for cooperation to address the issues of education and health care.
Mr. President, I am sure that your visit will be a success. This is your first visit to Azerbaijan. I have repeatedly visited Latvia. I am sure that this visit will produce good results and you will return home with pleasant impressions.
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Statement by President of the Republic of Latvia Andris Berzins
- Thank you, Mr. President!
Thank you very much for this opportunity to visit your country.
Latvia considers Azerbaijan an important and reliable partner in the South Caucasus. Thank you for such a broad description. After we established diplomatic relations between our countries, a good foundation emerged for future progress. In my view, we have developed important potential in our political and economic relations, and this development is rapid.
I would like to say on behalf of Latvia that in addition to discussing the energy agenda we have also identified other areas and touched upon the sphere of education. Since representatives of the education sector are also present here, we may well discuss the possibility of cooperation in this area. A total of 97 Azerbaijani students are studying in Latvia. This also provides a good basis for the strengthening of our relations in other areas, including the economic sphere. Our Minister of Health is also here. This is a very important area for Latvia.
This is an area associated with people's health. We are very active in this area, as well as in the field of humanitarian aid. From this point of view, I think that our countries can conduct exchanges. In addition, we will take great pleasure in sharing experiences in other areas - let's say, the experience we have acquired in working with the European Union and European institutions, our opportunities in the field of social protection. We can also exchange views on the improvement of the pension system and its development.
As far as other fields are concerned, I think we can have an effective exchange of experience in the field of border control, the fight against illicit drug trafficking, human trafficking.
With regard to the transport sector I would openly say that the development of aviation in Latvia may contribute to our mutual operations in this area. As you know, there are other trade routes, and one of them is called the "Bison". This is a container train which provides a way out of our Baltic Sea region into the region of the Black Sea. This, I think, could also be one of the most interesting opportunities. I think that this is a step towards discovering the potential of Latvia and making it more attractive.
In 2014, Latvia's capital Riga will be city of European culture. I believe that this is also of paramount importance to cooperation in the field of culture. I think that the cultural sphere gives us good potential. In my view, we can present ourselves to the world and strengthen our positions in a better way.
Thus, in order to develop our relations, we would like to invite Mr. President to visit Latvia again in order to further strengthen the results of our two-day work. We believe that in this way we will be able to further expand our relations at all levels.
Our relations in the economic sphere have gained momentum. I believe that the work we have carried out to contribute to global security and the security of our countries is very important. I think that from this point of view we have a lot of potential. Working together, we can apply effective efforts and achieve great results.
For my part, I am grateful to all the participants from Azerbaijan, especially you, Mr. President. We know that the visit of our delegation will be completed tomorrow. We would like to go back to our country with specific thoughts and ideas. We know that although some issues are not developing well enough, i.e. at the desired pace, we believe we will coordinate this between each other, Mr. President.
Thank you very much!
Ivo Jurkans (Latvian independent television): I have a question for the President of Azerbaijan. The issue of diversification of gas supply routes is extremely important for Latvia. We really want the "Nabucco" project to be implemented. What strong a contender do you think Russian will be in relation to this project? We know that you have ample reserves of gas, and the European Union also needs large volumes of gas. From this point of view, what do you think the position of Russia is?
President Ilham Aliyev: First of all, I believe that the work done by Azerbaijan to this day gives grounds to say that Azerbaijan will achieve great success in the implementation of the Southern Gas Corridor. As you say, we have very large gas reserves. We have proven gas reserves of 2.6 trillion cubic meters at present. But this figure is likely to grow because the newly-discovered fields are expected to have even larger reserves of gas. Thus, Azerbaijan should become a very important gas exporting country for many years, for decades to come. Of course, in order to achieve this, it is necessary to have different, i.e. diversified gas pipelines. Azerbaijan currently delivers its gas to world markets in different directions. Azerbaijan transports its gas to all neighboring countries except for Armenia. Of course, in order to enter the European markets in the future there should be new opportunities. I believe that the projects being implemented by Azerbaijan will be successful.
The most memorable of these in recent years has been the TANAP project. TANAP was initiated by Azerbaijan. As a result of the TANAP project, the Azerbaijani gas is to be delivered to the borders of Europe, after which it will enter the European gas network.
All of our initiatives are supported by the European Union. Two years ago European Commission President Mr. Barroso and I signed a memorandum on strategic cooperation in this hall. That memorandum applied to energy issues, and then active work began. Therefore, the market is European and the resources will come from Azerbaijan. There is successful cooperation with transit countries, and this cooperation has a wonderful history. We have already made good progress in the implementation of major oil and gas projects with our neighbors - Turkey and Georgia. So I do not see any obstacles. If we consider that Europe is interested in diversifying gas supplies, I think there should not be any obstacles here. As for the issues of competition, we do not intend to compete with anyone and are simply trying to transport our natural resources to the markets that are considered acceptable for us. In these matters the main role should be played by the principles adopted by the European Union. These are the principles of free and fair competition, the market economy. The European market is liberal, law-governed, very large and attractive for us. The interests of both Europe and Azerbaijan overlap here, which is why we view our relationship as a strategic partnership in the energy sector. In other words, there is a supplier country - Azerbaijan, there are transit countries - Georgia and Turkey, and there are consumer countries - members of the European Union. These countries do not disagree on matters of energy supply and energy security. There were simply some delays at a certain period. And in order to fill this vacuum, Azerbaijan, I want to say again, proposed the Trans-Anatolian Project (TANAP). I am sure that, as ever, we will achieve great success in implementing this project.
Albina Atlikhanova (Azerbaijan State Telegraph Agency - AzerTAc): My question is to the President of Latvia. Today Baku will host the Azerbaijani-Latvian forum for the business people from both countries. Mr. President, I would like to know what you expect from the forum and, in general, what contribution it can make to the expansion of our cooperation? Thank you very much.
President Andris Berzins: I think that the Latvian side has a strong interest in the business forum. The forum will bring together more than 80 business people from Latvia. They represent the business community and various sectors of the economy. This means that they will meet with their Azerbaijani colleagues both at the plenary session and in private meetings.
The President of Azerbaijan and I have spoken about that and noted that this is a very important basis for economic cooperation. We have reached a level when local business communities have already achieved their goals. In other words, our companies are already established in the Baltic region. This means that we have turned our attention to other markets. We have a number of directions. We have the experience that has been accumulated over 22 years and we can share it. It is the experience of these companies. I think it would be good if we could step up the business exchange between our two countries.
As for other issues, including the transport sector, Latvia is interested in any transit area, in particular air cargo transportation. I believe that cooperation between our countries in this area can develop very well. We also have very good opportunities in the field of air transport and its coordination. We can coordinate our efforts in this area. As for energy projects, we are already at a level when we can talk about alternative sources of supply. Here we have exchanged our wishes and views. Naturally, it is in the interests of both Latvia and the Baltic region. In short, the exchange of information is quite useful. We have come to the conclusion that there will be positive development in this area.
We can also talk about real projects. For example, we may share our experiences in the field of agriculture. Thank you very much.