Press Statements by President Ilham Aliyev and President of the Council of Ministers of Italy Enrico Letta

11 august 2013, 19:05

Statement by President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev

- Dear Prime Minister!

Ladies and gentlemen!

I welcome you to Azerbaijan. I do hope that your visit will be memorable. This is a historic visit. The Prime Minister of Italy is paying a visit to Azerbaijan for the first time. We welcome you to Azerbaijan and attach great importance to this visit.

This is a visit that confirms the significance of our bilateral relations. It is an excellent opportunity to discuss various aspects of our bilateral relations.

Our relations are developing successfully. We have established an effective political cooperation, which is evidenced by this visit. We actively cooperate within the framework of international organizations.

Close political contacts are also very important to the diversification of our relations, so that they cover all areas. I can say that Italy is our main trading partner. Of course, this is primarily associated with the oil industry. But I hope that as a result of this visit and the discussions to be held we will also diversify our trade relations.

We are inviting Italian companies to Azerbaijan to act as investors and contractors. A large Italian delegation will visit Azerbaijan to discuss various projects. We have discussed energy cooperation between our countries. This will open a new page in our relations. It will be a new page not only in our bilateral relations, but also in the relations between Azerbaijan and the European Union.

Azerbaijan contributes to the energy security of the European Union. At the same time, through the European Union we have found new markets. We have great resources. We have already identified new markets and will encourage long-term relationships. In June of this year there was a very important event associated with the selection of the Trans-Adriatic gas pipeline route. It was a choice made in a fair competition. The most viable project was chosen.

Energy security is a very important issue for any country. In this respect, Azerbaijan is a great country. We have ample resources and large markets. At the same time, we enhance competition also as a transit country and encourage communication between our states.

Azerbaijan is actively involved in a number of European programs. At the same time, our relations with European institutions are an issue of great importance. Therefore, I am grateful to the Prime Minister of Italy for supporting Azerbaijan's cooperation with European institutions and NATO.

Along with energy issues we have also discussed regional affairs. I have updated the Prime Minister on the occupation of our lands by Armenia and the process of settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Despite a number of resolutions and decisions, the issue remains unresolved. Of course, the key principles here are international law and the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

The solution of this issue will contribute to regional peace and partnership. We are a very important country in the region, an important country located in the Caspian basin. Thanks to the close relations with Europe we will achieve even more effective results. Prime Minister, I am sure that your visit will give a positive impetus to our relations and facilitate their development in various fields. Of course, people in Azerbaijan are very familiar with Italian culture. I do hope that we will also take this opportunity to introduce Azerbaijan to the Italian people. So I would like to thank you, Prime Minister, for your visit to our country. I am confident that we will work together very effectively in the coming years.

Statement by President of the Council of Ministers of Italy Enrico Letta

- Mr. President!

It is a great honor for me to be here. You know very well how important this visit is for us. I am the first Prime Minister of my country to pay a visit to Azerbaijan, to Baku. It is yet another indication of how important our discussions and the choice of the TAP project are.

I believe that this project will be an important factor in the energy future of Italy. This project is of paramount importance for the future of not only Italy but also of the whole region. This is a project that will change the energy map. By carrying out effective cooperation, we have established close contacts with the governments of Greece and Albania. Of course, we must not forget Turkey. We are confident that such arrangements will boost our effective cooperation. Most importantly, we must not waste time on this issue and the implementation of this project must commence soon.

At the same time, I would like to thank you, Mr. President, and Azerbaijan in general for this choice. The TAP project was selected on the basis of commercial principles. But it is a very important issue. I believe that this project will raise the economic ties between our countries to a higher level.

Taking advantage of this opportunity, I should address the people of Italy and note the importance of partnership with Azerbaijan for our country and its future. Our active participation in these projects will raise our economic relations to a higher level.

We will create a joint group. In November, representatives of leading Italian companies will come to Azerbaijan.

Representatives of the association of construction companies and the federation of heavy industry equipment of Italy will visit Azerbaijan to explore for various opportunities. I am sure that this too will attest to the nature of our contacts.

We have noted in our joint declaration that this activity should be enhanced. At the same time, a meeting of the Economic Commission will be held at the end of this year. This is a very important matter. We should also focus on the cultural sphere of our cooperation. We will create the Italian-Azerbaijani civil society forum. This forum will encourage contacts among our peoples.

As Mr. President has noted, we have also discussed the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. We believe that the status quo in this matter is unacceptable. The settlement of the protracted conflict will make a historic contribution to peace and security in the region.

Italy actively supports the activity of the Minsk Group, and we believe that this format is best suited for a final settlement of the conflict. I would like to reiterate that the unresolved status of the conflict is not in favor of any party.

In addition, I would like to emphasize Azerbaijan's consent to participate in the EXPO-2015 exhibition. This exhibition will be held in Milan. Various important topics will be discussed there. I would like to thank Azerbaijan for agreeing to participate in the exhibition. This is an exhibition held across the European Union. It is a traditional event held for 30 years. So, Mr. President, thank you for having made this choice.

I do hope that we will see each other again in the near future – in Vilnius in November. At the same time, taking advantage of this opportunity, I would be very happy to see Mr. President in Italy. I am inviting you, Mr. President, to get acquainted with this show in 2015. As a continuation of our meetings today, we will discuss various topics there too.
At the same time, our companies and manufacturers will soon visit Azerbaijan and sign relevant agreements, which will also contribute to the development of very important economic ties between the two countries.

Energy is a very important issue for Italy. We spend a great deal on issues related to energy. In this sense, we advocate a completely different situation. We are therefore very pleased that Azerbaijan has made its choice in connection with TAP. Thank you very much.