By Vafa Ismayilova
President Ilham Aliyev has described as historic the signing by the Azerbaijani and Turkmen governments of a Memorandum of Understanding on the joint exploration and development of hydrocarbon resources in the Caspian Sea's Dostlug field.
Aliyev made the remarks at a meeting with his Turkmen counterpart Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov held on January 21 via video conferencing in connection with the signing ceremony.
"I would call today's document historic because Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan are starting joint work on the development of a field in the Caspian Sea for the first time, and this field and work on the field will bring our countries and peoples even closer together and benefit both the Turkmen and Azerbaijani peoples," the head of state said.
He noted that the signing of a significant document reflected both the nature and spirit of fraternal and friendly relations between the two countries and that without close political interaction between the two countries at all levels, primarily at the level of presidents, the signing of the document would be impossible.
"We have made joint efforts to ensure that relevant agencies of our countries work exactly as the presidents indicate to them – in the spirit of cooperation, friendship, mutual support and correct understanding of mutual interests," Aliyev said in an address to his Turkmen counterpart.
Upward trend in ties
The president hailed an upward trend in Azerbaijani-Turkmen relations in recent years. Focusing on the chronology of highest level mutual visits, Aliyev noted that "over the past three years, five visits of the presidents of Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan and other mutual visits took place" and over 50 documents were signed during those visits. He stressed that half of 100 documents signed during the entire history of the Azerbaijani-Turkmen relationship was signed in the past three years. The president noted that the signing ceremony opened a new page in the development of the Caspian's hydrocarbon resources.
"This project will contribute to the strengthening of the energy security of our countries, as well as our neighbours. This project opens up great export opportunities, thereby contributing to the growth of the well-being of our peoples," Aliyev said.
Aliyev also noted the two countries' active support for each other in international institutions.
Furthermore, Aliyev said that Azerbaijani-Turkmen transport cooperation opened up great prospects for both countries and neighbours.
"Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan seem to have synchronized their projects to create a transport infrastructure, namely, modern international seaports, which work in close cooperation and ensure the transit of goods through our territories, and increase the possibilities for trade between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan. I am sure that in the future, transport and logistical cooperation between our countries will reach an even higher level. Taking into account the current new situation in our region and the possibility of opening new transport routes, I think that this will present additional opportunities for all our partners and neighbours.”
Aliyev said that in matters related to transit, it is impossible to achieve results without interaction with neighbouring countries.
"The fact that we observe a high level of transport and logistical infrastructure today is evidence of the focused activities of Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan in this area. This ushers ample opportunities for all countries of our region and even those far from the region – in Eurasia. After all, the transport sector brings countries together, just like the energy sector. The fact that we are signing this memorandum today – I want to say it again – is a significant event that will have positive consequences," the head of state said.
Aliyev shared his views about regional cooperation that contribute to the implementation of major projects.
"There is already a trilateral format of cooperation involving Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Turkey, and another involving Azerbaijan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. This cooperation is aimed at a specific result, at creating more favourable conditions for doing business and for the implementation of large infrastructure projects," he said.
Speaking about Lapis-Lazuli railway project, Aliyev said that it ensures the delivery of goods from Afghanistan through Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and beyond.
Aliyev hailed his counterpart for the progressive development of Turkmenistan and his investment policy in neighbouring countries.
"It is our common approach to cooperation with countries of the region and the solution of issues that are important both for us and for our neighbours that have created completely new realities today," the head of state said.
Sea of cooperation
Aliyev described the Caspian Sea as a sea of good-neighbourliness and a sea of cooperation.
He said that today Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan as two independent energy powers are making another contribution to strengthening cooperation in the Caspian.
“I am sure that the Caspian Sea will continue – although it is a natural border between our countries – to unite our countries and peoples.”
The head of state also noted the very dynamic development of cooperation among the Caspian littoral states in the spirit of mutual understanding and mutual support.
"This has resulted in the signing of the Convention on the Status of the Caspian Sea. The Caspian countries have shown goodwill and political determination. And after many years of discussion, the Convention, which opens up new opportunities for countries to develop energy resources, as well as joint activities to protect the Caspian, was agreed. Through joint efforts, we must continue to do everything to protect this unique reservoir, which brings so many benefits to our peoples," he said.
Aliyev stressed that the signing ceremony was the result of many years of consistent action by Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan to strengthen independence, sovereignty and economic potential.
"Our countries are completely self-sufficient. They do not depend on international loans, foreign aid or any other forms and types of external influence. We are countries that are strongly attached to our national, moral and ethical traditions. This is a foundation that leads us forward. Today, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan are relatively young independent states. Our independence is less than 30 years old, but over these years we have been able to achieve tremendous successes. These successes lead us forward today, we solve very important issues of social well-being, economic development and global transnational projects," Aliyev stressed.
He reiterated that both countries are open to investment and that "foreign companies confidently invest large amounts in both Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan because they are confident that their funds will be protected".
The president described the political stability in both countries as the most important factor in their development today.
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