Presidents of Azerbaijan and Serbia made press statements21 December 2022, 14:40
Following the one-on-one meeting, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and President of the Republic of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic made press statements.
President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev made the statement first.
Statement by President Ilham Aliyev
- Distinguished Mr. President,
Ladies and gentlemen.
A month ago, I paid an official visit to Serbia at the invitation of President Vucic. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you once again for the hospitality extended to me and the delegation. At the same time, I would like to share my impressions. I was very impressed by the situation in Serbia and the ongoing development under the leadership of President Vucic. As a result of the visionary policy of President Vucic, Serbia is developing comprehensively in the field of urban development and, at the same time, in the fields of economic and industrial development and agriculture. This creates new opportunities for our future cooperation because both Serbia and Azerbaijan are countries that rely on their resources. We are countries pursuing an independent policy. We are countries that maintain close contact with each other.
I am delighted that my dear friend has accepted my invitation and is visiting Baku less than a month later. This shows that the dynamics of our relations are very positive indeed. We do hope that the decisions we made in Belgrade last month will be implemented soon. We are not only hopeful, but we have also given appropriate instructions to our governments regarding the implementation of those decisions. I am aware that the heads of our respective institutions have been in contact with each other in the past month, and these contacts continue to this day. In other words, we want our bilateral relations to develop rapidly and the decisions to be implemented without wasting time.
Our cooperation in a number of fields already has a long history. First of all, I should say that Serbia and Azerbaijan are strategic partners. Several documents on strategic partnership have been signed between our countries. We have always supported and continue to support each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty, and this policy will remain unchanged. We advocate international law and are convinced that the relations between countries can be regulated only based on norms and principles of international law. Of course, we are very concerned about the manifestations of double standards observed in the world in this field. Norms and principles of international law should serve as a basis for all countries.
Taking advantage of such wonderful relations of strategic partnership and, at the same time, our personal, friendly relations, we do hope that this will produce a result in all areas, of course – first of all, in trade. I am sure that the implementation of the agreements reached will lead to an increase in the volume of trade. It is not at the desired level yet. There is great potential in the field of transport and logistics, especially if we take into account that international transport corridors pass through the territories of Azerbaijan and Serbia, and our relevant institutions should work hard to create alignments and connections. Contacts have already been established between relevant institutions of our countries.
Of course, the energy sector is a part of our cooperation. The importance of this area has been on the increase lately. Azerbaijan's natural resources are already being exported in various directions, including the European continent and countries that are Serbia's neighbors. There are opportunities for cooperation in both natural gas and electricity. Relevant negotiations have been held. I am sure that tangible steps will be taken to export Azerbaijan's electricity to Serbia starting next year.
I should also inform you that a corresponding agreement was signed on delivering Azerbaijan's electricity to Europe four days ago. The cable that will be extended under the Black Sea will further highlight the fact that Azerbaijan is an essential supplier for Europe in this field too. All this ushers ample opportunities and opens new horizons, and we will cooperate in this area, of course, in bilateral and multilateral formats.
During my visit to Serbia, we also gave relevant instructions in the field of the defense industry. Both countries have significant capacity in this field, and specific steps are expected to be taken to combine this potential.
In short, when we look at our bilateral relations again, we see that our relations in all fields are based on friendship and mutual understanding. I am sure that we will spend the next year in this atmosphere too. Because this year has been very successful for our bilateral relations. One can only be optimistic about the two reciprocal visits, the contacts between members of our delegations and the future of Serbia-Azerbaijani relations as a whole. This is why we are pleased, and I would like to thank my dear friend, President Vucic, for this friendship. Welcome again.
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Then, President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic made the statement.
Statement by President Aleksandar Vucic
- Dear President Aliyev, dear friend.
Every time I come to Azerbaijan and every time I visit Baku, I witness incredible changes. For someone from Azerbaijan, this may seem rather unusual, but it really is the case because people living in a country cannot see how much that country has changed. Every time I come to Baku, I really witness tremendous progress. I would even say that I observe incredible progress. This is why I want to congratulate you, my friend. I want to congratulate the citizens of Azerbaijan on this progress. I am happy for your achievements. Both my delegation and I are sincere friends of the people of Azerbaijan and Mr. President personally. Why did I start my short speech with these words? Because the rapid development we see in Azerbaijan can be observed only in a handful of places in the modern world. Some might claim that this is because of oil and gas.
I know countries with ten times more oil and gas reserves than Azerbaijan, and their situation is ten times worse than Azerbaijan's. This indicates the power of the country's leadership, the foresight of President Aliyev, and his familiarity with the challenges facing Azerbaijan and the modern world. It goes on to show how you can make a difference with a country's leadership with a good vision. Again, I want to share a short story with you. During a visit to Libya in 1971-1972, the elderly Sheikh Bin Zayed from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) said that he hoped his country could be like Libya in 40 years. Libya has five times more oil than the UAE. But look at the situation of one country and then at the situation of the other. I am sure that President Aliyev has demonstrated the difference between himself and many of us and, indeed, countries with a larger volume of natural resources and raw materials than Azerbaijan. We are witnessing a situation where a country is led with love, as is the case with President Aliyev. I am not saying this because we need gas and electricity as much as Europe. No, we need less. We do need these resources, but we can live without them. I say this because I sincerely sympathize with President Aliyev and the results of his work. When he visited Belgrade, he told me he could hardly recognize some parts of the city. Then I realized that when you visit a place you don't live in, you can witness the development of that country or city.
We have discussed all forms of cooperation. We have a solid and sincere friendship. It is impossible to turn Azerbaijan against Serbia or Serbia against Azerbaijan. This is impossible. No one can do such a thing, nor is there any pressure on anyone to do so. We support each other's territorial integrity. This has been and will continue to be the case. I am grateful to President Aliyev because he knows precisely the difficulties we face in maintaining order in the territory of our country and in safeguarding the requirements of the UN Charter. I am also grateful for learning many things about the future from him because I can see what awaits us in the future more realistically and more seriously.
We have analyzed possible areas of cooperation together. It goes without saying that we have many issues to cooperate on in the energy field. We have already discussed ways to build and develop our own transmission systems to transport electricity by a subsea line to Romania and Hungary. We have also reviewed how we can be energy beneficiaries. We have discussed ways to get Azerbaijani gas through the interconnectors we will build together with Bulgaria and North Macedonia. All this is important for us. But I think we are opening up some new areas of cooperation that are just as important, maybe even more important than these. We are talking about our joint activities, the exchange of technology in the defense industry and working on some products that we can take to the markets of third countries together. Because I think that if we have a joint approach, we, as Serbia and Azerbaijan, have great potential. This is why we are meeting for the second time in one month. Serbian delegations will be visiting Azerbaijan often, and an Azerbaijani delegation will visit Belgrade in a few days. I have had a very productive discussion with the Minister of Defense Industry. I believe that together with representatives of the defense industry, we have learned a lot from Azerbaijan about the activities of the armed forces, as well as the structure of the armed forces. We are ready to exchange information on many issues. We produce certain good ammunition and weapons. We are ready to consider ways to modernize everything together and keep pace with the world on the way to becoming self-sufficient. Because in this challenging period, we have seen how significantly countries can lose so much power in a short time and how sanctions can have a devastating impact. We must be ready to protect and secure our countries in a future that will not be very peaceful.
President Aliyev, I am very grateful for your friendship and sincere attitude towards Serbia. I wish and hope that you will revisit the Republic of Serbia soon, that you will always stop in Serbia during your visits to Europe, and that it will be your second home that you will always visit with pleasure. I am always happy to come to Baku. I do hope that thanks to your vision and the efforts our people and we are making, we will open a new window for our cooperation.
I am delighted with this visit. I had great expectations from this meeting. I am delighted that I was able to learn so much from President Aliyev. As you know, I do not hesitate to say such words in front of the local or international community. Many people in the world know that I am not one to praise someone too much. I don't even praise those who think they are bigger and stronger than the two of us.
President Aliyev, thank you for your exceptional hospitality. I want to express my gratitude to the people of Azerbaijan for their friendship with the Republic of Serbia. We know how to build a strong relationship and a strong friendship in the future. I believe that we will do it in the best way possible for the interests of our people. Thank you again, President Aliyev.
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