President Ilham Aliyev and President Rumen Radev made press statements-UPDATED-1

Rumen Radev, President of the Republic of Bulgaria and Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan

© APA | Rumen Radev, President of the Republic of Bulgaria and Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan

# 08 May 2024 18:59 (UTC +04:00)

Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and Rumen Radev, President of the Republic of Bulgaria, made press statements, APA reports.

The President of Azerbaijan made the statement first.

Statement by President Ilham Aliyev

- Dear Mr. President, my dear friend.

Dear ladies and gentlemen.

Dear guests.

Several important documents were signed during the visit of the President of the Republic of Bulgaria to Azerbaijan today. Among them, of course, I would like to mention the Joint Declaration on strengthening strategic partnership. Bulgaria and Azerbaijan have been strategic partners since 2015. Over the years, our relations have developed rapidly and successfully. This visit of the President of Bulgaria is another manifestation of this.

Our meetings with President Radev are regular in nature. Last year, both President Radev visited Azerbaijan and I visited Bulgaria. We also met at the Bulgarian-Serbian border last year. In other words, such an active political dialogue enables our relations to expand and deepen and our countries to achieve new results in all areas.

Of course, the wide-ranging Bulgarian-Azerbaijani relations were discussed today and ideas were exchanged about future steps. The turnover between our countries has increased several times. The main reason for this is, of course, cooperation in the energy sector. The current level and prospects for this cooperation are very reassuring. Suffice it to say that the exports of Azerbaijani gas to Bulgaria has been increasing year after year. Last year, 1 billion 250 million cubic meters of Azerbaijani gas was transported to the Bulgarian market. I can say for comparison that this figure was only 600 million cubic meters in 2022. Our calculations show that 1.5 billion cubic meters of Azerbaijani gas will be exported to Bulgaria by the end of this year. This is approximately 50 percent of Bulgaria's total gas consumption. In other words, in the language of the European Commission, Azerbaijan is expanding its activities as a pan-European gas supplier and does not spare its support in addressing the issues of energy security.

At the same time, Bulgaria has become an important gas transit country. Azerbaijani gas is currently exported from the territory of Bulgaria to other neighboring countries, and the number of these countries will certainly increase in the years ahead. So, this is a tangible result of our cooperation, logical fruition of our strong bilateral relations. Because our cooperation should be calculated for a concrete result. In other words, the main goal of this cooperation is to achieve better results, and we see this both in the growth of trade and in cooperation in the field of energy.

We also discussed another project today, and it is the green energy cable. As you may know, Azerbaijan is working closely with partner countries in this direction, including Bulgaria. We believe that the feasibility study, which will be ready in a few months, will be a good basis for starting this work. Azerbaijan will thus assert itself not only as an oil and gas supplier for the European space, but also as a supplier of green energy. The potential is quite extensive, and we will also talk about it at the COP29 conference at the end of this year. I have invited President Radev to Azerbaijan to participate in this event.

Another important direction is related to transport. This was also discussed. I have informed President Radev that modernization of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway had been completed a few days ago thanks to Azerbaijan's investment. Its throughput capacity has been increased several times. As an important segment of the Middle Corridor, this project, which was put forward on Azerbaijan’s initiative and its capacity has now been expanded, will of course play an important role. The transportation of larger volumes of cargo along the East-West corridor and back will further strengthen our relations.

In a nutshell, I think we can already see the results of today's visit. One of the results is that the strengthened version of our strategic partnership has been officially adopted and approved. We do not disagree on the issues I mentioned and a few others. Our goal is to deepen bilateral cooperation, enrich it with new content and make joint efforts as strategic partners.

Dear Mr. President, I welcome you again and wish you a pleasant visit.

x x x

Then, the President of Bulgaria made the statement.

Statement by President Rumen Radev

- Dear Mr. President.

Dear members of the delegation.

Dear representatives of the media.

First of all, I would like to thank Bulgaria's and my personal friend, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, for the invitation and for the warm hospitality. This is a welcome very much in line with traditional Azerbaijani hospitality.

We share traditional ties of friendship, understanding and mutual trust. We are conducting our political and strategic dialogue at the highest level. As President Aliyev has mentioned, this is our fourth meeting in recent times. This is not only an important indicator, our political dialogue at the highest level creates a good foundation that ensures the economic prosperity of not only our countries, but also of the entire Caucasus and the Black Sea basin. It also contributes to European energy security. With your permission, I would like to list a few of our achievements. First, Azerbaijan has become an important and key partner in the field of energy for Bulgaria, playing an important role in the diversification of our gas supply. In the fall of 2022, with the participation of President Aliyev in the city of Sofia, we started using the gas network between Greece and Bulgaria, thus connecting the Southern Gas Corridor to Central and Eastern Europe. This was, of course, in line with the European Commission's policy to ensure energy diversification and resource security. Because the strategic partnership agreement has been signed between the European Union and Azerbaijan. After that, Mr. President once again visited Bulgaria, where we signed a memorandum on the “Solidarity Ring” project on our initiative, where we will join our efforts and mobilize the capabilities of Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and SOCAR, so that additional gas volumes from Azerbaijan can be sent in our direction. This is an important issue for the security of the entire region. At the same time, we jointly opened SOCAR's office in Sofia. This was an indication that we are determined to deepen cooperation in the field of energy.

Energy runs high on the agenda of our discussions. However, this is not a factor our cooperation is limited to. We have relations in other areas, both at the government level and among business circles. We even have contacts at the municipal level in order to strengthen our relations and cooperation. There are also transport and digitization aspects here. We have joint projects in green energy, education, culture and tourism. Therefore, it is natural that we signed a very important document today – the Joint Declaration on strengthening the strategic partnership between Azerbaijan and Bulgaria. This was an indication of our important and immense potential and a mutual desire to raise the relations of our countries to a higher level, although they are already very good and excellent. In addition, we have witnessed the signing of several agreements. However, relevant agreements have been signed not only in front of this audience, but also at another event – the business forum.

Mr. President, I want to assure you that our common interest and desire is to have a strategic position not only in energy, transport and cooperation, but also in other fields, taking into account the geopolitical and geostrategic location of our countries. We will do our best to ensure stability in our regions in all areas, especially in terms of connectivity. We contribute to the intensification of relations between Asia and Europe, and this is a priority for us.

At the initiative of President Aliyev, we are engaged in simplifying tariff harmonization and customs administration issues, so that we can address those issues. As you can see, the agreement between AZAL and Bulgaria Air has been signed here. We will see the resumption of regular Sofia-Baku flights. At the same time, we have witnessed the signing of the Agreement between “Asarel Investment” and SOCAR, and we have a lot to do in this area.

I have known President Aliyev for more than seven years, and we have had many discussions during this period. I am a witness to his bold vision. I know it quite well. He is determined to develop Azerbaijan dynamically. Green energy projects are a clear example of this. At the same time, his proactive diplomacy has allowed us the opportunity to talk about peace, security and stability at the international level today. Therefore, I was not at all surprised that Azerbaijan was chosen as the host of such a prestigious event as COP29. We, as Bulgaria, strongly supported Azerbaijan's candidacy at that time. Today, I informed President Aliyev that we, in our turn, are ready to support COP29 at the institutional and expert level.

Today, representatives of many companies are visiting Baku along with me. They are already proposing various solutions so that Azerbaijan continues to enhance its leadership in this region, especially in the fields of green energy and environment. I can give you an example: we have a project to obtain new products from used oil products. These materials can be used both as fertilizer and as building material. At the same time, we can create a production area for cargo drones. That is, we are talking about the transportation of cargo by means of unmanned aerial vehicles, of course, we are talking about small cargo at this point. By this, we offer Azerbaijan solutions and projects that are leading in the region, have high technological capacity and are environmentally friendly. We are not only discussing these projects, agreements have already been signed and contracts have been concluded in relation to some of them.

We established relations between Veliko Tarnovo and Shusha, the ancient cultural capital of Azerbaijan, within the framework of Mr. President's visit to Bulgaria. I would like to thank you because several remarkable projects have been implemented with your support. The Heydar Aliyev Foundation has also played an active role in this. This Foundation has implemented projects for the protection of historical and cultural sites in our country.

We will once again invite you to Bulgaria for the opening of these beautiful sites after restoration, Mr. President. Thank you very much again for the very efficient and productive discussions, and thank you for this invitation. I believe that the agreements reached during these discussions and the documents signed will further deepen our strategic partnership and strengthen the already very strong foundation of our cooperation. Thank you.

*** 13:11

Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and Rumen Radev, President of the Republic of Bulgaria made press statements, APA reports.

*** 12:43

Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and Rumen Radev, President of the Republic of Bulgaria are making press statements, APA reports.

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