Presidents of Azerbaijan and Albania made press statements
07 July 2023, 12:50
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and President of the Republic of Albania Bajram Begaj have made press statements.
The President of Azerbaijan made the statement first.
Statement by President Ilham Aliyev
- Esteemed Mr. President,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Mr. President, welcome to Azerbaijan. I’m very glad to have an opportunity to host you on an official visit. We met many times in Baku, in Tirana, and now again in Baku on an official visit.
We pay very big importance to the official visit of the President of Albania. I am sure the visit will strengthen close bilateral relations between our countries. I’d also like to use this opportunity to express gratitude to you, Mr. President, for the hospitality shown to me and my delegation during my last year’s visit to Albania. Also, I would like to say that last year we hosted twice the Prime Minister of Albania and this March, the President was on a working visit to Azerbaijan. So, these visits alone demonstrate how close our relations are and how active our dialogue is.
We created a special dynamism in our bilateral ties based on friendship and mutual support. We actively work in international organizations, supporting each other, primarily in the United Nations and Islamic Cooperation Organization. At the same time, we are very grateful to Albania for supporting Azerbaijan in the organizations where Azerbaijan is not represented. I already expressed my gratitude to Mr. President and the Government of Albania for support to Azerbaijan during the last year's Francophonie Summit, where there was an attempt by one member state of Francophonie to pass the paragraph and to include the paragraph into a final document - a paragraph of anti-Azerbaijani substance.
Albania was the country that blocked that. And that was the demonstration of friendship, demonstration of a solid commitment to basic principles of international law, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the countries. So even in the organizations where Azerbaijan cannot defend itself, we have a brother like Albania who did it. We're very grateful for that.
Today, we discussed the future political relationship between our countries and our joint activity in international organizations. At the same time, issues related to trade, the economy and investment opportunities were definitely on our agenda. Once again, I reiterated that Azerbaijani investors are ready to seriously consider investment projects in Albania, whether in tourism, agriculture, or any other area. In the coming months, we will have more information about that, which will also open a new page in our relations. Because so far, the main factor of our cooperation has been related to the energy sector. And this cooperation is important not only for our countries but for a significant number of countries, particularly TAP, which is a part of the Southern Gas Corridor, which crosses Albanian territory and is now a source of energy security. Taking into account the active work of Azerbaijan and the European Union on gas supply issues and the document signed between the European Union and Azerbaijan on strategic partnership in the energy area - all these, of course, are important factors for close cooperation between our countries. Because energy security for many European countries is also provided through the Southern Gas Corridor. The number of these countries is growing, Azerbaijan's gas export to the European Union market is growing, the volumes are growing, and the geography is expanding.
By the end of this year, we expect more EU member countries to start receiving natural gas from Azerbaijan. Also, one of the topics of discussion during our previous communications was the gasification project of Albania, and the pilot projects have been selected. And as we were informed today by members of the delegations, everything goes according to the schedule, and by the end of the year, we will already have the feasibility study of that. And after that, I hope we will immediately start the investment, which will be purely Azerbaijani investments in Albania to build a gas distribution network. We also discussed how we can extend our infrastructure from Albania to neighboring countries.
I'm also very glad that we now have an embassy in Tirana. That was also a decision that was made during my visit to Albania. And as soon as I returned to Baku the next day, the decision was made. And now our embassy in Tirana already started its activity. So, it demonstrates that there is a very strong mutual political will to develop our bilateral ties, and also, the decisions we adopted - all of them are being implemented.
I'm sure the same will be concerning today's visit of Mr. President. We agreed to have regular meetings, and at every meeting, we will review what has been done and plan our future steps.
Once again, Mr. President, welcome. I wish you a pleasant stay in Azerbaijan.
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Then, the President of Albania made the statement.
Statement by President Bajram Begaj
- Thank you, dear President.
Honorable President Aliyev, thank you for the warm welcome and the hospitality. It's a great pleasure to be in Azerbaijan and to meet again with my friend, President Aliyev. This year marks 30 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries. We have many reasons to be proud of these relations today, which are better than ever. Therefore, I express my appreciation to President Aliyev for his essential contribution to further strengthening them. Last year, President Aliyev visited Tirana, marking the first visit of an Azeri President to Albania.
I'm satisfied that the impact of that visit was instantly reflected. It didn't take long, and the Parliament of Azerbaijan made the decision to open the embassy in Tirana. Albania, likewise, made the same decision to have an embassy in Baku in 2023. Both decisions will bring our countries even closer, further strengthen the already excellent relationship and political dialogue, promote economic cooperation, and beyond.
We have many reasons to celebrate our 30th anniversary of friendship. So, I brought to the President's attention some of the other successful steps taken toward the two countries’ rapprochement. A joint working group meeting on economic, industrial and technological cooperation between Albania and Azerbaijan took place in May. This working group marks an important step further to deepen relations in other spheres of vital importance. Therefore, the argument to create a joint inter-governmental commission based on this working group to be held in Baku in 2024 clearly indicates the constructive spirit and understanding between the two countries. In addition, in the first month of this year, I had the opportunity to be part of the Global Baku Forum and another very important initiative to exchange experiences and the best vision for the future of our countries and the planet. President Heydar Aliyev’s extraordinary vision of developing and empowering Azerbaijan on the 100th anniversary of his birth is easily palpable by anyone visiting your country. The historical memory of what he has done for Azerbaijan will remain present and serve the development of the future of your country.
Dear President Aliyev, Albania and Azerbaijan are closely linked through cooperation in the energy sector. TAP is already a consolidated success story. Albania's benefits from the TAP have been numerous from both an economic point of view also in terms of strengthening the Albanian strategic weight as a gateway and the regional hub for energy. The Ionian Adriatic Gas Pipeline will contribute even more to Albania’s role as a gas distributor in the region. I reiterated to President Aliyev Albania's willingness to take quick steps in the framework of gasification of the country in close cooperation with Azerbaijan.
Albania, as a gas transit country, is already a reality. We set ourselves an objective to make Albania the country that transmits and receives gas. Our country is committed to achieving it and deepening cooperation. I emphasized to President Aliyev that Albania welcomes the increased attention of Azerbaijan in the development of regional energy projects, which will bring the countries of the Western Balkan even closer and, at the same time, will strengthen their energy security position.
Earlier, we also touched upon important issues in our foreign policy. I told the President that I closely followed the talks of the last few weeks in Washington between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Albania has supported and will support long-term peace in the South Caucasus region, mediated by reliable partners and international organizations. I reiterated to President Aliyev that Albania has always supported the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and the implementation of the Security Council resolutions. Even in the Western Balkan region, a dialogue is very important. So that we can see each other not through the grudges of the past but through the possibilities of the future. I express my conviction that regional stability in Western Balkans is a necessary element. Kosovo and Serbia are negotiation parties to resolve any dispute and build a new spirit of cooperation. Respecting the argument both between themselves and then in international forums must be the point of orientation toward sustainable peace. Prosperity, not conflict, should be the guiding compass for bilateral and regional progress. The sooner something like this happens, the more beneficial it becomes for our people.
With President Aliyev, we also discussed the war in Ukraine. The presence of our countries at the Ukraine Recovery Conference indicates our will to look at a developed and peaceful Ukraine. On this occasion, we once again share our support for the territorial integrity of Ukraine. The help in these critical moments is a gesture that peoples and states do not forget. That is how it was when Azerbaijan supported Albania after the tragic earthquake of November 2019. So, I once again express my gratitude to President Aliyev for being by our side in those difficult days. A friend in need is a friend indeed.
The cooperation between Albania and Azerbaijan is also best reflected within international organizations. I expressed my conviction to President Aliyev that this very good pace of cooperation will continue to be maintained in the future. The culture week of Azerbaijan will soon take place in Albania. So, as the cities in Albania are filled with tourists from all over the world this month, I'm convinced that Azerbaijani culture week will be a real celebration and an indication of how culture will bring people and societies closer together.
Since I mentioned tourism, both our countries consider this sector a priority and a very important sector for the economy. For this reason, the deepening of cooperation as well as the presence of Azeri investment, also in terms of tourism, are welcomed. Abolishing the visa regime is another way to bring our people closer together. And as I said, President Aliyev is a man who brings his promises to reality. He told me today that that will be achieved very soon. Thank you. President.
Dear President, I believe it's obvious that since you visited Tirana, our countries, with mutual goodwill and cooperation, have succeeded in translating the promises and commitments into concrete actions. My present visit, your visit and all the high-level visits that our respective officials have exchanged recently give another positive impetus to strengthening the relationship between our countries.
In conclusion, allow me, Mr. President, to thank you once again for your warm hospitality. It’s truly a pleasure to be here in Baku. Thank you very much.