Ilham Aliyev and Prime Minister Robert Fico made press statements

07 May 2024, 13:05
Ilham Aliyev and Prime Minister Robert Fico made press statements

Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and Robert Fico, Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic, made press statements.

Statement by President Ilham Aliyev

- Dear Mr. Prime Minister.

Dear guests, ladies, and gentlemen.

Today marks a significant day in the history of Azerbaijan-Slovakia relations. Distinguished Prime Minister is visiting Azerbaijan, and a Joint Declaration on Strategic Partnership was signed within the framework of the visit. This is a serious political document, a document that raises our relations to the highest level. The articles contained in the Declaration on Strategic Partnership reflect our intentions and, at the same time, define the prospects for future cooperation.

I believe that today marks the opening of a new chapter in Azerbaijan-Slovakia relations, and I am hopeful that our shared path will be highly successful.

Today, Mr. Prime Minister and I discussed many issues during the one-on-one meeting and also in the negotiations with the participation of our delegations. We reaffirmed the high level of our political relations. At the same time, we expressed our attitude to the work to be carried out in many areas.

Among the documents signed today there are agreements related to defense and defense industry sectors. A broad exchange of ideas has taken place in these two areas, and concrete negotiations have already started on the establishment of joint production capacities in the field of defense industry.

Of course, cooperation in the energy sector has also been extensively discussed today. Azerbaijan currently exports its natural gas to eight countries, and I hope that Slovakia will be the ninth. In April of last year, a document called “Solidarity Ring” was signed, ushering ample opportunities for transporting Azerbaijani gas to the Slovak market.

The document on strategic partnership signed between the European Union and Azerbaijan in the field of gas and energy is being implemented. Azerbaijan transports its natural gas to Europe through reliable routes. Our supply to Europe is increasing, from 8 billion cubic meters in 2021 to up to 12 billion cubic meters this year. This accounts for 50 percent of Azerbaijan's total gas exports. Our plans include delivering 20 billion cubic meters of gas solely to the European Union by the end of 2027, and I believe we will achieve this goal.

Gas production in Azerbaijan is growing, with new fields being discovered and production already underway from these fields. Simultaneously, we are actively implementing our large-scale green agenda. The construction of a number of wind and solar power plants will allow us to save gas, and of course, the main direction and destination of this gas will be Europe.

Today, we also focused on efforts to increase trade between our countries. As you may know, the Azerbaijan-Slovakia business forum was held today, and dozens of Slovak business people are visiting Azerbaijan. Numerous investment projects are also being discussed. These issues were discussed and received the green light from both sides, so to speak.

Another significant aspect of our cooperation is the involvement of a Slovak company in the liberated territories. The reconstruction of the Garvand village in the Aghdam district will be carried out by a Slovak company. This, of course, holds significant symbolic meaning, showcasing the sincerity of our relations. At the same time, the work to be done by Slovak specialists based on the “smart city” and “smart village” advanced concepts in the liberated lands will undoubtedly bring joy to the returning residents.

In a nutshell, the agenda discussed today was quite extensive. This is my first personal meeting with Mr. Prime Minister. At the same time, we have exchanged views on many international issues, and there is no difference of opinion here either. Slovakia and Azerbaijan today pursue a policy based on sovereignty and dignity. I congratulated Mr. Fico on his re-election as Prime Minister and said that this was a sign of great appreciation of his work by the Slovak people. It is not the first time that Mr. Fico has been elected Prime Minister, and his re-election is a sign of the Slovak people's respect for independence, sovereignty and national dignity. And this choice makes us extremely happy as friends of the Slovak people. I can say that tangible steps were taken immediately after Mr. Fico resumed his duties as Prime Minister, with high-ranking officials from Slovakia and Azerbaijan exchanging visits. And today, we welcome our distinguished guest.

Once again, dear Prime Minister, welcome! I am confident that your visit will be pleasant and will open up new opportunities for our cooperation.

x x x

Statement by Prime Minister Robert Fico

- Mr. President.

Ladies and gentlemen,

On behalf of the Slovak delegation, I would like to thank you for the hospitality extended to us. Your country is famous for its hospitality.

Mr. President, I do hope that you will visit Slovakia with your delegation at a time of your convenience, so that we can continue our constructive and fruitful discussions we started today. I believe that today's results have exceeded our expectations.

Mr. President, you have been elected a president for the fifth term. This is really an indication that you are a very important person for this country, and I congratulate you on your re-election. I can tell you clearly that our discussions in the one-on-one meeting confirmed what I think about your country and you personally. You are pursuing a sovereign foreign policy. You are a person who champions international law. You are a pragmatic person, and your foreign policy is not limited to one direction only. You know perfectly well how important territorial integrity is. At the same time, as a representative of a country that is a member of the European Union, I can say that the European Union likes to lecture others from time to time. In my political experience, I prefer never to interfere in the internal affairs of any country.

Mr. President, I am disappointed by the discrimination, injustice and bias against small countries in some international institutions because we are considered a small country in terms of population. I have been listening to you very carefully, and I said this to the delegation that welcomed me at the airport upon arrival yesterday. We are ready to serve as a bridge between Azerbaijan and the European Union. We want to show the objective situation in Azerbaijan to the European Union. We must fight for justice. Slovakia in 2020-2023 was an example of how indifferent the European Union is. At that time, the country's criminal code was exploited to persecute the opposition. At that time, we were in the opposition, and today, due to what happened in that period, in 2020-2023, we adopted very important laws in our parliament. However, the attention of the European Union is on us precisely because of this. In other words, we have this experience with these institutions. I would like to urge our Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Parliamentary committees from here that we should cover the situation in Azerbaijan as objectively as possible.

Mr. President, we have made substantial progress. Of course, our trade turnover is quite low, but there are no obstacles here. We do not have disagreements in any area.

When I heard Mr. President's position on Ukraine, I felt as though it echoed the position of the Slovak government. We talked about what was happening at the global level, about how things would evolve after the end of the conflict in Ukraine and China's role in the world. That is, we have a very similar position. Unfortunately, our turnover is a little more than 70 million euros, and of course, the advantage here is on our side, because we export cars to Azerbaijan. There are numerous enterprises in this field in Slovakia. We need to expand our cooperation. If we have a strong president and a politically strong prime minister, we can take on several projects and implement them successfully.

Mr. President, I attach great importance to this cooperation, especially in the military field, and I highly appreciate it. The idea of establishing joint production capacities in Azerbaijan should be attractive to everyone. We have already discussed certain details of this, and our Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Kaliňák is very active in this field as well. He will do his best to make these projects successful. We are talking about production sites outside Slovakia.

Mr. President, I would also like to thank you for supporting our initiative in Karabakh. This is a “smart village” project. It is a very interesting project. I would like to visit there as soon as possible, and I hope that you will soon visit us in Slovakia. There we can discuss this progress. At the same time, we are also interested in the construction of a small airport and we are also interested in cooperation in the field of energy.

Of course, the use of Slovakia's transport infrastructure has become complicated due to the war in Ukraine. There is a project to import Azerbaijani gas from the territory of Ukraine through a location on the Russia-Ukraine border. If we are talking about a volume of 20 billion cubic meters, it should be interesting for everyone. Of course, I do not think that Azerbaijan is engaged in charity, we simply hope for fair prices and have full respect for your interests.

Mr. President, I am sure that we will create a positive atmosphere at the European level as well. You know that everyone in Europe likes to speculate. They search for ill intent in everything. We not only want to purchase gas from Azerbaijan, we also want to import gas from the territory of Ukraine to Slovakia, and I highly appreciate your constructive approach to this matter.

As the Prime Minister of Ukraine said, a certain agreement can be reached between Russia and Ukraine if there is Azerbaijani gas. It will be beneficial for everyone - for Slovakia, for you and for Ukraine because they will transit it. This can be an exemplary project and, Mr. President, let me thank you for the information you provided in this regard.

Mr. President, I want to wish you personally the best of luck. I convey my best wishes to your country and people.

You are a sovereign country, a model country when it comes to sovereignty. I have always appreciated such countries when it comes to sovereign positions and ideas. You stand up to injustice. I will try to apply the same approach to Slovakia, so that Slovakia can conduct a sovereign foreign policy, and when sovereign countries like us come together, the results can be very good.

Mr. President, I convey my best wishes to you, Azerbaijan and the people of Azerbaijan, and wish you every success in your work. Thank you for your cooperation and your personal contribution to this matter. Thank you for your contribution to Azerbaijan-Slovak cooperation.