Joint press statements of Presidents of Azerbaijani and Serbian
23 November 2022, 15:26
Statement by President Aleksandar Vucic
-Dear President Aliyev,
Dear friend, distinguished ministers in the government of Azerbaijan, distinguished ministers in the government of the Republic of Serbia, dear journalists.
I am very happy to be able to host today in Belgrade a true friend of our country, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. We had excellent discussions this morning, and I am a bit sorry because he cannot stay long in our country due to the overall situation. But we believe that within a short period, we will have the opportunity again to host him here in Serbia. We have many things in common with Azerbaijan starting from that we both relentlessly preserve our territorial integrity and help each other in the international arena and international institutions and organizations precisely in line with the UN Charter and international public norms based on the order in the United Nations, because this is the only thing we can rely on. Today, we learned a lot from President Aliyev. There is not much left of international law, only a handful of countries uphold international law, and we believe this is the only possibility and the only option for our future. Anyway, our relationship with Azerbaijan as of today, when we signed this declaration and memorandum of strategic partnership, is taken to another level. We discussed all important issues today, starting from how to cooperate in the energy field. Azerbaijan is a superpower in the production and export of gas. And in seven, eight or ten years, Azerbaijan will export more than 35 billion cubic meters of gas. Today, the export is around 22 billion cubic meters of gas. More than half of that goes to the European countries, and that is why we work on establishing an interconnector between Serbia and Bulgaria so that we could receive, in advance, a substantial amount of gas from our friends in Baku. We discussed electricity transmission because there is a huge European project that is going to connect Georgia, Romania, Hungary and Azerbaijan. We will discuss our joining with our European partners because this is the underwater cable of vast power. It goes under the Black Sea. We wish to successfully join our transmission network to the Romanian or Hungarian one so we can buy energy in the future and guarantee full energy security for our country. It is also because of the growth of industrial production in our country and the constantly greater needs of our citizens. We will need this energy security, and we are very grateful to our friends from Azerbaijan, particularly President Aliyev, for understanding this. Serbia is, of course, a reliable partner, and I made a joke a while ago. President Aliyev told me he couldn't believe it when he saw what they built for us - a highway to Tartak and Brelina. They built the Brelina section. It was a challenging section, and they delivered on time, almost without a day of delay, which was strange for us. And they were surprised when one year and a half earlier, we repaid the entire loan that we took back in 2011. We fully repaid it ahead of schedule. Countries usually don't do that, but Serbia is accustomed to doing things like that whenever we can to repay our debts. The reason for my mentioning it is that the Azerbaijani side understands that Serbia is a very reliable partner, as we have always known that President Aliyev and Azerbaijan are reliable partners not only to us but to everybody. And I told President Aliyev; there are protocol matters to sign some things for transparency, but for us, his word is enough. We believe in his word more than in any signature. To me, it is more than enough. When he says something, I know it will be the case. So, for us, this is really important. We discussed many other important issues. We talked about the lack of fertilizers, petrochemical facilities and many other things. We discussed military-technical cooperation and all other issues between our ministries and promoting cooperation in the international arena. So, literally, at all levels of cooperation. In agriculture, labor and social welfare - an important document was just signed by the two countries' ministries. Today we will continue discussions, and I expect that in the coming 20 days, I will pay an unofficial but essential visit to Baku, Azerbaijan, to discuss some of these tremendously important topics for us. And I will be accompanied by several ministers from the government of Serbia precisely to deepen this strategic partnership that we launched today with concrete agreements and tangible steps. It may appear as a joke to some, but it is not. Ilham Aliyev is the most popular man in Europe now. It's incredible how changes happened in Europe. They usually didn't have time for him. Now they have all the time in the world for him. It's all reserved for Ilham Aliyev since they need his gas and everything Azerbaijan can offer; now, he is quite loved there. But I know that he is a smart guy. He sees everything, understands everything, and I'm a bit jealous, to tell you the truth. They call me only when it comes to Kosovo. And when they need something about Kosovo, they need to slap me on my hand. But they call him because they love him, begging him, asking him for everything. But I am happy to see how a friend of mine and a great friend of Serbia succeeded, and he didn't change. He is a man who has always kept his country safe. He respected his country and cared for the nation and its interests. Let some others think about whether they might change or have changed their approaches and principles. Serbia is a small country. We do not have gas. We have lithium, but we are genius; we are the only country that gave up lithium production worldwide today. When some smarter people come to power, they will put this back on track. But we're going to keep our country safe, and at least, as half successfully as Mr. Aliyev did for his Azerbaijan. And we can always see who the true friends of our country are. And we will make the best possible cooperation with them, and I'm pleased I look forward to the rest of the day and our meetings in Azerbaijan. And I hope I look forward to another meeting here in Belgrade, but on that occasion, I ask the President of Azerbaijan to spend a bit more time in our country. Because here we feel hurt when you don't spend at least one night in our country. So, we believe we can show our hospitality unlike elsewhere in Europe. Once again, thank you very much. I wish all best to your people. Many things are ahead of us. I'm delighted because of everything we signed today. I know that many more things are yet to come and that we will be able to do many more things in the interest and benefit of the people and citizens of Azerbaijan and Serbia. Thank you once again. Thank you. I kindly ask the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Mr. Ilham Aliyev, to take the floor.
Statement by President Ilham Aliyev
- Dear Mr. President,
Dear ladies and gentlemen.
First of all, Mr. President, thank you for the hospitality you have extended to me and the delegation. Thank you very much for the invitation to visit your beautiful country. Also, let me thank you for your kind words about Azerbaijan. These are the words of a true friend. President Vucic and I have friendly relations, and this factor has played an essential role in the rapid development of Azerbaijan-Serbia relations.
The documents signed between us constitute the legal basis of our bilateral relations, and among them, of course, the documents on strategic partnership hold special significance. We are strategic partners in the true sense of the word because we cooperate successfully in many areas, and our cooperation has strategic objectives.
Azerbaijan and Serbia always defend and support one another in the international arena. As President Vucic has said, our countries' sovereignty and territorial integrity are supported on a reciprocal basis, and this position is unequivocal, unchanging and will remain so. At the same time, I would like to comment on the remarks of President Vucic regarding international organizations. Our lands were under occupation for many years. The world's leading international organizations adopted important and fair decisions and resolutions regarding this occupation. Among them, of course, I should mention the four resolutions by the UN Security Council. Those resolutions demanded an immediate, unconditional and complete withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces from Azerbaijani lands. The UN General Assembly, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, and the OSCE, i.e., all the leading international organizations, adopted decisions and resolutions in support of our position, but the issue was not resolved. What does it indicate? It shows that the decisions and resolutions of international organizations and their implementation are selective.
In some cases, resolutions of the UN Security Council are implemented in a matter of days; in others, they are implemented within a few hours. But as far as our issue was concerned, we had been waiting for the implementation of these decisions for 27 years but could not achieve that. This is why the international community should come up with suggestions regarding the future of international organizations. We in Azerbaijan are ready for that. Because if the decisions made are not implemented, if they are not fulfilled, this, of course, is thought-provoking.
Therefore, when we realized that all these efforts, including the negotiations, were proving ineffective, we resorted to the force factor. International law and the UN Charter allowed for that, and the right to self-defense should apply to all states, including Azerbaijan. We restored our territorial integrity by force, we restored justice, and the people of Azerbaijan have been rebuilding the liberated lands for two years now – rebuilding the entire area of over 10,000 square kilometers.
Of course, we analyze these and other developments from the perspective of the interests of our countries, and today we touched upon many international issues in a bilateral format. At the same time, we have discussed regional security matters. As my friend Aleksandar said, we have discussed cooperation in the energy field, and these discussions will continue today. There are good opportunities for cooperation in the fields of natural gas and electricity. Today, Azerbaijan's rich gas resources play a role in the energy security of many countries, and this role will continue to grow. Of course, first of all, we intend to deepen cooperation with friendly countries in this and all other fields. In particular, cooperation in the military and technical field is already underway, and additional steps will be taken to deepen and broaden this cooperation.
In a nutshell, we have laid out an agenda for the coming years. Of course, the presidents will remain focused on this agenda and monitor the implementation of these issues. To do this more promptly and efficiently, of course, we need to meet frequently.
I have invited my dear friend, President Vucic, to visit Azerbaijan. Such a visit can be organized both before and after the end of the year. Of course, I will visit Serbia again. My visit to Serbia is slightly overdue; it has been somewhat delayed given that President Vucic was in Azerbaijan three and a half years ago. I also had to pay a reciprocal visit. But with COVID-19, it was slightly delayed. But I am happy to be back in your beautiful country. We will have many such visits. Our friendship will be eternal. Thank you again for your hospitality and attention.