Following the expanded meeting, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and President of the Republic of Bulgaria Rumen Radev have made press statements.
The President of Bulgaria made the statement first.
Statement by President of Bulgaria Rumen Radev:
- Dear Mr. President,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Today, it is with great pleasure that I welcome the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Mr. Ilham Aliyev – a friend of Bulgaria. We have traditionally friendly relations, and we maintain sincere cooperation. Mr. Aliyev and I discussed our bilateral relations, their current status, the challenges before us and, of course, reviewed new opportunities.
I can say with great pleasure that there has been a very active political dialogue between our countries at the highest level. Thanks to this, we have already raised our relations to the level of strategic partnership. Azerbaijan is a desirable and reliable partner for us. I am very glad that our positions coincide in this matter, and we intend to carry this pragmatic and effective cooperation forward in many areas.
This official visit of Mr. Aliyev is doubly symbolic. First, this year we are celebrating the 30th anniversary of our diplomatic relations. Secondly, within the framework of this visit, tomorrow, on 1 October, we will officially celebrate the opening of the Greece-Bulgaria Gas Interconnector. This interconnector, this strategic project is a very important project for both our country and for Eastern Europe as a whole. This interconnector will allow us the opportunity to buy natural gas from Azerbaijan for the first time. This, of course, will redraw the energy map of Europe. This is such an infrastructure project that we will be able to develop economic cooperation not only between our countries but also in the entire region. Through this project, we are reaffirming our strategic partnership. I would like to thank Mr. Aliyev for the fact that we are developing our relations on the basis of the Declaration on strategic partnership that we signed at the time and thanks to our commitment and determination.
I would like to bring to your attention one more important issue: I shared with Mr. Aliyev an offer I received yesterday. In addition to Bulgaria, three other European countries – Romania, Hungary and Slovakia – have applied to us to buy and transport additional gas volumes. In the summer of this year, in July, Mr. Aliyev and Mrs. von der Leyen signed a document. According to that document, a new approach should be applied. Thanks to this, instead of waiting for years – you probably know that large investments are needed to expand the existing infrastructure here – we can immediately send Azerbaijani gas to other countries through the infrastructure of these four countries. Thus, gas can be delivered to Central, Western and Southern Europe more quickly and reliably. This proposal will be officially presented tomorrow. We will discuss it with the President of the European Commission and representatives of these four countries. We are ready for it. We can organize a high-level meeting within a month and can move the project forward. We can start this project.
Currently, we are looking for new opportunities in the conditions of high gas demand and crisis. President Aliyev and I discussed various issues and a wide range of opinions because we need gas in cement production, glass production and other production areas. Azerbaijan also produces various products. Thus, we will be able to buy gas directly from Azerbaijan. This is a very important issue, and this gas can already be transported to the markets of third countries through us. We are saving transportation costs and time here. Bulgaria will take a more active part in this process, and our gas company will play a more active role. We will, of course, discuss this issue with Mr. Aliyev again – what our possibilities are and what options we have. We are interested in this issue and will also consider converting natural gas to electricity. This is an important issue not only for Bulgaria, but also for the European Union. Of course, the Memorandum of Understanding on Strategic Partnership is very important.
Of course, we did not limit ourselves to the energy issue in our discussions. We will look for new opportunities for cooperation in other innovative areas. For example, information technology and artificial intelligence. Of course, at present we have certain challenges regarding “green energy” and carbon neutrality. We will work on that. In addition, we are planning on the production of fertilizers. We have great potential in the production of automotive and spare parts. We can work together in these areas, hand in hand. Agriculture, food production, pharmaceuticals are also very interesting fields.
Another important area is science, education and culture. With this, we can strengthen contacts and exchanges between peoples, add new perspectives to our cooperation in the fields of economy and investment.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank President Aliyev for keeping his promise, as we are organizing direct flights from Baku to Sofia. I do hope that we will expand the flow of tourists. I believe that after the pandemic is completely over, these flights will be active.
When it comes to the field of culture, we never forget the contribution of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. We are talking about the project implemented in Veliko Tarnovo, which is our historical capital, in the field of preservation and protection of our cultural heritage.
President Aliyev and I have discussed that contacts at the working level should be more active because we have many opportunities and have to be more efficient here. We have to work together. We have to think together. The geopolitical and regional situation has also been reviewed. Considering the current situation, we should make more flexible decisions so that it is in the interest of our peoples and countries.
We have also discussed the issue of opening a representative office of SOCAR in Bulgaria. I believe that this can be a sign of our fruitful cooperation.
President Aliyev, this is only a part of our discussions. I am sure that your visit today will boost our bilateral relations and develop cooperation between Azerbaijan and the European Union. We have always been close to Azerbaijan from a humanitarian and geographical point of view. I am sure that we will successfully meet the objectives before us.
Then the President of Azerbaijan made the statement.
Statement by President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev
- Thank you, Mr. President.
Dear ladies and gentlemen,
Mr. President, first of all, I would like to thank you for inviting me to Bulgaria and for the hospitality extended to me and my delegation. I am very happy to be visiting your beautiful country again.
President Radev gave extensive information about the issues we have discussed today. For my part, I would like to add that many issues have been discussed in a friendly atmosphere, both in our one-on-one conversation and in the discussions with the participation of delegations. I am sure that the results of this visit will be very successful and the agreements reached today will definitely be implemented, as was the case with those reached in previous times. In particular, I would like to mention the Joint Declaration on strategic partnership between Bulgaria and Azerbaijan signed in 2015. This Declaration has raised our relations to a high level and, at the same time, all the issues identified in that declaration have been implemented. Today, Bulgaria and Azerbaijan are maintain closer contact with each other as two friendly and strategic partner countries.
As for political relations, it would be enough to mention our contacts, as well as the numerous meetings held at the ministerial level. Of course, my trip is slightly belated, but that is because of COVID. I have visited several countries, including Bulgaria, right after COVID. I am sure that as strategic partners we will take further steps in the field of energy security, which is the main issue discussed today. Partnership in this field has already been implemented, as Azerbaijan's gas is now in Bulgaria. During the conversation with the President today, we also discussed ways of increasing the volume of Azerbaijani gas to be exported to Bulgaria. Relevant instructions have been given. Energy security issues have always been important, but in today's circumstances, this importance has increased even more. We are well aware of this. Therefore, we are doing our best to increase gas production and supply our partners with natural gas. Azerbaijan has been exporting its crude oil to world and European markets as a reliable partner for many years. Azerbaijan, which now exports natural gas, will assert how itself as a reliable partner in this field as well.
We have also exchanged opinions about the ceremony to be held tomorrow. I congratulated President Radev on this great historic achievement. The Greece-Bulgaria Gas Interconnector project is indeed of historic importance. I am sure that this interconnector will enable the transportation of Azerbaijani gas to Europe on a larger scale. At the same time, it will be of great benefit to energy security on the European continent.
As the President noted, a Memorandum on strategic partnership in the field of energy was recently signed between the European Union and Azerbaijan. According to this Memorandum, in the next few years, we will increase our gas exports to Europe at least twice, and there are opportunities to do that. Azerbaijan's confirmed gas reserves are at 2.6 trillion cubic meters. New and diversified gas transportation infrastructure allows us the opportunity to supply natural gas to many countries. Of course, the successes achieved in this field are also a good foundation for future plans.
At the same time, as already mentioned by the President, the issue of opening SOCAR's office in Bulgaria has also been discussed. We should not limit our energy agenda to the exports of natural gas. We have also discussed other issues related to energy. Export of electricity and mutually beneficial cooperation in this field, the transportation of crude oil to Bulgaria, possible participation of SOCAR in the renewal of energy infrastructure in Bulgaria and other issues have been discussed as well. In short, the time has come to open SOCAR's office in Bulgaria, and I am sure that we will do that soon.
As for other issues as a whole, transport security is certainly an important issue considering the new geopolitical situation today. Azerbaijan has created a very modern transport infrastructure in its territory – railways, highways, a new International Trade Sea Port – all these infrastructure facilities have one goal of increasing the volume of transit cargo through Azerbaijan. This year, the volume of these cargoes has increased by approximately 50 percent. In the future, this number will be even greater. Therefore, Bulgarian and Azerbaijani transport workers will come together and exchange ideas about long-term and large-scale future cooperation.
I will meet with the heads of several leading companies of Bulgaria today. There are already quite a few topics for the meeting. I am sure that this meeting will play a very important role for the deepening of cooperation in the fields of economy and investment as a whole. At the same time, I will invite Bulgarian companies to do more large-scale work in Azerbaijan, including the territories liberated from occupation. At the moment, major construction and improvement work is under way there, and we would like to see companies of friendly countries there.
In short, the discussions held today and those that will be continued – Mr. President and I will meet in the evening again, I will have a meeting with the Prime Minister, and we will participate in the event tomorrow – these meetings, held in a very nice atmosphere, are and will be of great importance .
Thank you again for your hospitality and attention. Thank you.
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