Presidents of Azerbaijan and Latvia made press statements

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and President of the Republic of Latvia Egils Levits have made press statements.

The President of Azerbaijan made the statement first.

Statement by President Ilham Aliyev

- Mr. President.

Dear guests.

Ladies and gentlemen.

I am very glad to host the President of Latvia on an official visit to Azerbaijan. We have met relatively recently in Davos. I am grateful to Mr. President for accepting my invitation and paying a visit to our country. Tomorrow we will be together at the 10th Global Baku Forum. Also, I would like to use this opportunity to express gratitude to Mr. President for attending this important international event.

Relations between our countries have developed very successfully. Latvia and Azerbaijan are strategic partners. The Declaration on Strategic Partnership was signed several years ago. And really, we act as strategic partners. We have a very active political dialogue. I have been on visits several times, including official visits to Latvia.

The presidents of Latvia visited Azerbaijan several times. And of course, today’s visit of Mr. President is a good demonstration of our close cooperation. We have a very active joint economic commission, which also meets regularly. The last time, as far as I remember, was last year.

Political dialogue and economic cooperation, I think, demonstrate our mutual political will to establish closer relations between us. Also, Latvia plays an important role in EU-Azerbaijan cooperation, which develops very successfully. We have signed or adopted declarations and agreements on strategic partnership with nine members of the European Union, which is one-third of member-states. This really is a good platform for agreement, which is now being negotiated between Azerbaijan and European Commission. The absolute majority of the agreement is already agreed upon. So, we need to take the final steps. Hopefully, we will do it sooner than later. At the same time, Azerbaijan becomes for the European Union more important partner with respect to energy supplies. We have always been considered by the European Commission as a reliable partner. Today we export oil, natural gas, electricity, petrochemicals, and oil products, and hopefully, soon, we will start to export green energy.

A corresponding agreement between Azerbaijan, Georgia, Romania and Hungary, witnessed by Madamme President of the European Commission, was signed last December in Bucharest. So, this is really a global mega project, which comes right after the completion of another mega project, which was the Southern Gas Corridor.

Azerbaijan’s gas supply to Europe is growing year after year. Last year, we signed here with the European Commission an important document on strategic partnership in the field of energy. Based on that, we are increasing our gas supply through the diversified supply routes, which have been created relatively recently. But of course, not only energy security is uniting Europe and Azerbaijan. There are many other areas, including transportation, education, and trade. The European Union is our main trading partner. And definitely, with more years to come, the portion of trade with the European Union will grow. Because, as I said, we will increase gas supplies, we will soon start supplies of electric energy from green energy sources. So, Latvia has always played a very important and very positive role in closer cooperation between the EU and Azerbaijan, as well as cooperation between NATO and Azerbaijan, which also develop very successfully.

We are very grateful to our Latvian friends for this continued support. And with respect to our bilateral relations, there are many issues that we need to address. So far, the agenda is pretty broad.

Today, I also informed Mr. President about the situation in the Southern Caucasus, especially with respect to the normalization process between Azerbaijan and Armenia. We hope Armenia will positively respond to our comments on the proposal for a peace agreement. We delivered a while ago our proposal, which is based on the norms and principles of international law. We received comments from Armenia. We sent our comments to their comments. So, it is in the process. We hope that we will see a strong political will also from Armenia. That they will make the right decision and not try to buy time as it was during the times of occupation when we had negotiations for 28 years, which ended, unfortunately, with a serious military outbreak that ended with the liberation of Azerbaijani territories. We had to do it by force, unfortunately. Though, we could have done it by political means if Armenia had behaved constructively.

So, when we are seriously discussing the future peace agreement between the two countries, we expect that Armenia will not lose time and will positively respond to our proposal, which many international actors support. Despite the devastation and long-lasting occupation of our territories, we think that page of hatred must be turned down. We need to look to the future and establish a peaceful Southern Caucasus. We see the benefits of close cooperation and integration between Baltic countries. We lived in the same country for many years together. So, they managed to establish close cooperation. Now they have been members of the EU for many years and also members of NATO. They successfully develop. Unfortunately, in the South Caucasus, we had a different picture. We had wars, separatism, terrorism, and extremism. Now it's time to put an end to that, and if it happens, then South Caucasus countries, like the Baltic countries of the former Soviet Union, will also have a chance for peaceful and prosperous development.

Once again, Mr. President, thank you for being with us. Thank you for accepting my invitation. I wish you a pleasant stay in Azerbaijan.

x x x

Then, the President of Latvia made the statement.

Statement by President Egils Levits

- Thank you, President Aliyev, for inviting me to visit Azerbaijan. We met two months ago in Davos.

And we have now to celebrate 30 years anniversary of the establishment of our diplomatic relations. During the 30 years, our bilateral relations have developed very well, very successfully. And we have many common bilateral issues which we can promote. But also we have to cooperate on a global level, on the international level.

Concerning our economic relations, we had the last year’s positive trends. And today, we will also have a business forum between Latvian and Azerbaijani businessmen.

We are interested in exploring areas, especially ICT, smart energy, green technologies, transport and logistics.

But you already mentioned, and I can also announce that airBaltic - our national airline, is planning to renew the direct flights between Riga and Baku in May this year.

It would also be much easier for Latvian tourists to visit Azerbaijan and Azerbaijani tourists to come to Latvia, including business trips.

On a multilateral level, I would say that Latvia, as a member state of the European Union, is interested in close cooperation between European Union and Azerbaijan.

Latvia welcomes the European Union-Azerbaijan Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in the energy field. Azerbaijan is now playing a very important role in diversifying the energy supplies of the European Union, also contributing to the energy security of the European Union. We are also looking forward to closer cooperation in the area of renewable energy.

Regarding security cooperation, you already mentioned our cooperation with NATO. And our embassy is a contact point the embassy of NATO in Azerbaijan. And we will extend our main mandate to our embassy in Baku until 2024. And I see that it is in the common interest to more close cooperation on security issues between Azerbaijan and NATO.

Turning to the situation in Ukraine, I would stress at the beginning that the cornerstone of Latvian foreign policy is international law, respect for international law, and respect for the territorial integrity of all countries. And therefore, we are condemning this unprovoked and unjustified aggression against Ukraine. Latvia supports Ukraine militarily and economically. We are giving humanitarian aid. And our aid together reached more than 1% of our GDP.

We are looking forward to seeing how the situation in Ukraine can develop. But I can say that lasting peace could be based only on international law. We should not allow that destruction and interference in international law as a long-standing frozen conflict.

We appreciate your role, Mr. President as president of the Non-Aligned Movement, which is a platform for 120 states as a majority of the United Nations. And as you know, we will be a candidate for the Security Council 2025. We hope to get support from the member-states of the Non-Aligned Movement. I think this Non-Aligned Movement is an important group of states which are also relying on international law and territorial integrity.

Because all states should be interested in peace, and peace is based on international law. And you are, as the current president of this movement, playing a very important role.

I can also say that Latvia will have the presidency in the Council of Europe, and we are both member states of the Council of Europe. And during our first presidency, Azerbaijan became a member of the Council of Europe.

So that we see that this enlargement of the Council of Europe was very successful. We will talk further about strengthening democracy and the rule of law in Europe in the interest of all member-states. I look forward to participating tomorrow in the tenth Global Baku Forum under the theme “The World Of Today: Challenges And Hopes.” And there are really both challenges and hopes. And I think at tomorrow’s discussion, we will see that hope will prevail.

Thank you, President Aliyev, also for the support of this global forum because it's an important forum where the leaders and former leaders of different countries from different regions and different cultures can meet and discuss current problems. Give us also some recommendations. And I highly respect Azerbaijan's role, your role in promoting this intercultural dialogue because, in the forum, there are representatives of states with different cultural backgrounds but also political systems, political history and so on. And all together, it is an important forum.

Concerning the peace process in South Caucasus, Azerbaijan and Armenia, as I already mentioned, we are the for the solution based on international law. International law also means the territorial integrity of countries.

And I think it's time to achieve such kind of peace agreement. And we only support that both sides would agree to a peace agreement. Lasting peace is possible only when peace is based on international law and territorial integrity.

So, Mr. President, thank you again for this very open and interesting conversation and the invitation. This is my first visit to Azerbaijan. And I see that Azerbaijan is a stable and prosperous country and a reliable partner of the European Union.

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