Following a ceremony of signing documents, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko have made press statements.
The President of Azerbaijan made the statement first.
Statement of President Ilham Aliyev
– Dear Alexander Grigoryevich,
Ladies and gentlemen.
Alexander Grigoryevich, let me warmly welcome you to Azerbaijan again. Your visit is of great importance for the further development of friendly relations between our countries. The visit started yesterday. Yesterday we had a detailed conversation, discussing practically all issues related to the bilateral agenda, as well as regional issues. I informed Alexander Grigoryevich about the situation after the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. There is complete mutual understanding on all the issues we discussed.
Negotiations continued today. We had a detailed conversation with the participation of foreign ministers, as well as members of delegations. Our relations have already stood the test of time. These relations have a very good history. Throughout our relations, we have always resolved issues related to their development. There have never been any unresolved issues between us or those that would have required any operational intervention. We have clearly defined our goals, gave specific instructions to those implementing them and monitored the implementation of the set tasks. To this end, we have held and continue to hold regular meetings. I have visited Belarus many times and Alexander Grigoryevich has visited Azerbaijan. Our meetings are regular in nature and this will continue to be the case. There was a break due to the pandemic, but as soon as the situation permitted, we were very happy to greet Alexander Grigoryevich and I would like to thank him for accepting our invitation to visit Azerbaijan.
From a political point of view, regular consultations are held at the level of both heads of state and foreign ministers. We actively cooperate, support each other in international institutions and will continue to do so in the future.
Today, the co-chairs of the intergovernmental commissions and members of the delegations reported on the work done. The ministers and members of the delegations met yesterday. So all of yesterday was dedicated to the issues of further strengthening our relations. Specific areas of future cooperation within the framework of diversification and increase of turnover have been identified. Last year, our turnover increased significantly, but this was mainly due to the supply of crude oil to Belarus.
In the first quarter of this year, the supply of crude oil continued in larger volumes, and I think we will significantly exceed last year’s level. The route has already been tested and the project is mutually beneficial. Of course, we intend to expand cooperation in this area, namely to expand cooperation in the energy sector. In other words, we will not limit ourselves to the supply of crude oil to refineries in Belarus.
We discussed in detail the issues related to the future participation of Belarusian companies in the restoration of the liberated territories in Karabakh in a number of areas – urban development, infrastructure and agricultural development. We discussed Belarus’ experience in creating agricultural estates both yesterday and today. I informed Alexander Grigoryevich that Karabakh has been declared a “green energy” zone and the first “smart village” project is ready for implementation. Of course, taking into account the experience of Belarus in this area, it would be very interesting to work in this direction. I went on to say that we would only involve companies from friendly countries in the restoration work. Belarus is such country for Azerbaijan. Companies from three friendly countries are already working on reconstruction projects in Karabakh. We do hope that Belarus will be the fourth country. We have already agreed on the visits of members of the Azerbaijani government to Belarus to continue consultations in this area.
Industrial cooperation is a very large segment of our relations. The co-chairs of the intergovernmental commission reported to us on the successful implementation of projects. Alexander Grigoryevich and I started this project with the assembly of Belarusian tractors, and then envisage other productions – cars, trucks, combines, buses and electric buses that will be very useful for our work within the “Green Karabakh Zone” concept. We have also discussed the participation of Belarusian companies in the creation of alternative energy sources. In short, there is a lot to do. I told the visitors today and yesterday that the area liberated from Armenian occupation is four times the size of Luxembourg. You can imagine the scope of the work. Everything has been destroyed in this area.
I have presented a copy of the first edition we prepared to Alexander Grigoryevich. The publication contains pre-occupation photos of the cities we liberated and photos of vandalism and barbarism committed by Armenian occupiers in those lands.
I think that the overall situation related to post-conflict development can be described as positive. I have informed Alexander Grigorievich about our approaches and our vision of the development of the post-conflict situation. Naturally, I have expressed Azerbaijan’s position that we believe, and the reality is, that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has now been resolved. Azerbaijan has resolved it on its own, implemented four UN Security Council resolutions which remained on paper for 27 years but, unfortunately, the mechanism for their implementation was not used. The messages the Minsk Group co-chair countries sent to the Armenian side to end the occupation were also not fulfilled, while their statements that the status quo was unacceptable were not heard by the Armenian side.
The culprit of what happened to Armenia is precisely the Armenian leadership, which had been leading the country to the abyss for 20 years. The former rulers of Armenia are the main culprits of this humiliating and complete defeat of the Armenian army with which the second Karabakh war ended. We want to turn the page, are focused on strengthening confidence-building measures, transport and logistical projects, which are being discussed today both within the framework of the Azerbaijan-Armenia-Russia trilateral working group at the level of deputy prime ministers and within the framework of our consultations with neighboring countries – Turkey and Iran. Thus, the Zangazur corridor is becoming a reality. We look forward to multilateral cooperation.
Of course, Belarus is our friend, a trusted partner, and we naturally count on its active participation not only in the restoration of the liberated territories. Also, I am sure that Belarus as a partner of Armenia, as a country that is a member of the EurAsEC and the CSTO together with Armenia, a country that is a close friend of Azerbaijan and an authoritative country in the world, can, of course, play an important role in the future establishment of contacts between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
I have also told Alexander Grigoryevich that one format associated with the city of Minsk has now been consigned to history. The Minsk Group exists, but the conflict has been resolved. What the Minsk Group will be doing is still unknown to us. We look forward to some creative ideas from them. Our Minister of Foreign Affairs reported to me today that after my yesterday’s comment on the activities of the Minsk Group, it made a statement. I will, of course, familiarize myself with it but, as they say, I hope that all other formats associated with the city of Minsk will also be resolved peacefully. We wanted to settle the conflict with Armenia peacefully for almost 30 years. And the fact that we remained committed to the negotiations speaks of our intentions. Therefore, the fact that the conflict was resolved by military and political means is, of course, the fault of the occupying country. If they had heeded my calls and persistent demands to vacate our territories before and even during the war, then the consequences of the war would not have been so painful for Armenia. They have only themselves to blame. We have restored justice, including historical justice, international law and implemented the resolutions of the UN Security Council.
So once again, Alexander Grigoryevich, I welcome you with all my heart. I would like to wish the brotherly people of Belarus new successes and achievements under your leadership. You are confidently leading your country along the path of development and progress, and ensuring stability. We, as friends, are always by your side and this will always be the case.
Once again, welcome and I wish you a good mood. I think that the impulses we have given to our teams today will lead us to even greater cooperation. Thank you.
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Then President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko made a statement.
Statement of President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko
– Dear Ilham Heydar oglu, thank you for the kind words you have said about the Belarus people and myself. Indeed, yesterday and today the President and I conducted a thorough revision of our relations and looked at the issues we need to resolve. Our ministers did a very good job on both the Azerbaijani and Belarusian sides. The co-chairs reported on the work today, the ministers did a good job. It will be continued after our dialogue today.
I sincerely thank you, dear Ilham Heydar oglu, for the friendly atmosphere that has traditionally surrounded our state delegation during this visit. During the dialogue, we reaffirmed the strategic nature of relations between Belarus and Azerbaijan and stated that we have practically no difference of opinion on the international agenda. Our assessments of the situation in the world completely coincide, there is clarity about further joint actions in the face of the global economic crisis, pandemic and, most importantly, ambiguous forecasts for the future. We do not know what will happen tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, etc.
Recently, we have made significant progress in our relationship. I really appreciate the open and friendly atmosphere of meetings with my friend. This has always been the case with us. He has just said that we regularly visit each other’s states. This is my fifth visit here. Ilham Heydar oglu has paid official visits to Belarus five times to resolve various issues.
We genuinely welcome the agreement on a complete cessation of hostilities in the zone of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. This is an important political decision that should form the basis of lasting peace in the region.
President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said that he had already conveyed congratulations to the head of state on the occasion of the Victory, stressed the importance of the fact that the 30-year-long terrible tragedy for the peoples of Azerbaijan and Armenia, as he put it, had ended.
President Alexander Lukashenko said:
– The whole world knows my position, the Azerbaijani and Armenian peoples know it. I have always proceeded from life. Ilham Heydar oglu was always a witness of that. Even during our meetings with his father Heydar Aliyev, I always asked a question when a speech came up: tell me whether people in Karabakh are happy to constantly live there under this oppression until the latest events, these hostilities? Do they feel good there? There is a tenth left of what used to be there in Soviet times, perhaps even less. It is such a disgusting life. So this problem needs to be solved somehow. And I have always frankly and honestly expressed my position, sometimes coming under a barrage of criticism, on how to resolve this problem. Ilham Heydar oglu said absolutely sincerely and honestly that we wanted to resolve it peacefully. I was a witness to all that and a supporter. So today I really want to congratulate both the people of Azerbaijan and the people of Armenia on the end of this sad, if not more, period in their history. Well done for the President to have said that we want to turn this page. This is my position, this is my wish. May God grant that this trouble is leveled out, so that there are no splinters in the souls and hearts of the Armenian and Azerbaijani peoples. I am absolutely convinced that there will not be any attacks on the Armenians, settling scores or attempts to exact revenge on the part of my friend and brother. He is a civilized and well-educated person. I always say that he graduated from the best university of the Soviet Union in Soviet times – MGIMO. He is the best educated and civilized person of all the presidents of the post-Soviet space. I have always spoken about this in public too. So I have answered the question – I congratulated two people. And I want to note his immense role in resolving this problem. Ilham Heydar oglu and I talked about it yesterday, and he feels it now. I guessed it right – it would seem that, yes, victory has been achieved, that’s all, the issue has been resolved, but you wake up the next morning and realize that this is only the first step. So much more remains to be done in these territories four times the size of Luxembourg or equal to Lebanon, not smaller than Lebanon. It will be an even longer and hardest epic. I would very much like it to be a peaceful epic.
Noting that Azerbaijan has a lot of work ahead, President Alexander Lukashenko said:
– I am saying this because, as I told Ilham Heydar oglu yesterday, you should know: the Belarusians took a certain position which is welcomed by the President. We will continue to act constructively in the future too. And the leadership of your country, Azerbaijan, should know that Belarusians are reliable friends and reliable people. Everything we have agreed on will be implemented. I have told the ministers like men: everyone should leave here with a certain amount of work. Belarusian ministers must find work to do here. Moreover, the President has opened the door wide for the Belarusians, for their work in this country, a very rich country. Today, to my shame, I was pleasantly surprised that Azerbaijan is not only about huge reserves of gas and oil, which, for example, saved the Soviet Union during the Great Patriotic War. The Baku oil, I know this well from history – the fascists were eager to get it in order to cut off our army from this oil, and then there would have been a complete end. But it turns out that there are also iron ores and large gold reserves in Azerbaijan, as much as $15 billion in reserves, according to various estimates. Therefore, it is a very rich country, a promising country that has a greater future.
Emphasizing the role of the President of Azerbaijan in ending the conflict again, President Alexander Lukashenko noted:
– Thank God it is over. Well done for finishing it, and I am sure that you will turn this page with such approaches that Azerbaijan is not going to humiliate the Armenians living in Azerbaijan, because they live not only in Karabakh, they also live in other places. The information that some Azerbaijanis mock the Armenians – I do not know of such examples. We will assist in every possible way where you invite us. We will offer our options.
Stressing the role of First Vice President of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyeva in the development of bilateral ties, the President of Belarus also highly appreciated her activities in the restoration of the territories liberated from the occupation and in the fight against the pandemic in the country.
President Alexander Lukashenko said:
– We have, of course, talked about trade and economic cooperation and the transition to a higher stage of cooperation, joint ventures, technology transfer and the establishment of industries that Azerbaijan needs but traditionally did not have in Soviet times and does not have now. Please, we are ready to establish enterprises here and create them together, especially in the territories that have been liberated and which will need to be restored.
Stressing in this context the readiness of his country to cooperate with Azerbaijan shoulder to shoulder and responsibly, the President of Belarus said:
– We have dedicated a lot of time to analyzing the pandemic and the post-pandemic situation. We will start the vaccination of the Belarusian population tomorrow. These are our own vaccines developed according to the “Sputnik V” technologies of the Russian Federation. We will produce half a million doses in the country. We will not be able to consume so much, and we are ready to share this vaccine with Azerbaijan.
There is great potential for the development of cooperation in industry, agriculture, woodworking, information technology, healthcare, and tourism. We will do everything to ensure that more young people receive education in our country. In due time we will gain experience in Azerbaijan. There are many good universities, there are many. And by the way, I understand it that your youngest one has already graduated from a university in Baku. Or is he still studying?
President Ilham Aliyev: He has graduated in Baku and completed his military service.
President Alexander Lukashenko: We know this, much to your credit.
President Ilham Aliyev: He studied in Baku.
President Alexander Lukashenko: Yes, he studied in Baku, there are good universities. If the President sends his child to a university in Baku, then this is a worthy university. We also noticed this in due time.
We see good prospects for the deepening of our cooperation in the scientific and technical field. As for the military-industrial complex, the former Minister of Defense of Belarus, now the Ambassador, is here, and he knows everything – from the border to the modern products we manufacture. He will resolve any issue, and the ministers heard that any request of the Ambassador will be implemented in the military-industrial complex, in the areas we can deliver and those our friends in Azerbaijan need.
Ilham Heydar oglu, thank you very much for the meeting today despite all sorts of pandemics and other fears. We have agreed that we will continue our negotiations, and our government members will exchange these visits not on TV but by visiting each other. I want to invite you to Belarus, it is now your turn. We will be waiting for you. In fact, yesterday we already outlined the main points of your visit to Belarus and visits to certain places and enterprises on the territory of Belarus.
Once again, I want to emphasize this, Ilham Heydar oglu, you know this and I want other leaders of the country to know, the people of Azerbaijan to know that we have always been and will continue to be your reliable friends and country. Thank you!
President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you!