BAKU, Azerbaijan, June 21. President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev have held a meeting in an expanded format.
The heads of state made speeches at the meeting.
Speech of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev: Azerbaijan is a close friend for us and a time-tested reliable strategic partner. Our countries are linked by a common religion, spiritual values, similar traditions, language and culture, which we spoke about in great detail in private today. We in Uzbekistan are always sincerely happy about the impressive successes of Azerbaijan. Your achievements are recognized all over the world today. My brother, esteemed Ilham Heydarovich, continues the work of his great father Heydar Aliyev and has restored historical justice by returning the ancestral lands of the Azerbaijani people. Today, a lot of creative work is being done under your leadership. Your country is once again becoming a blossoming land. We will be happy to contribute to this noble cause, which we also spoke about in private.
Dear participants of the meeting, during today's meeting in a narrow circle, in a narrow format, Ilham Heydarovich and I spoke very substantively, frankly and in confidence on all issues of our bilateral relations, even with regard to specific areas – how we should do it, what we should do to produce a tangible result. Of course, we have significantly intensified our trusting dialogue and contacts in recent years. An important political document will be adopted today – the Declaration on the deepening of strategic partnership and comprehensive cooperation. We have established close coordination within the framework of the United Nations, the Organization of Turkic States, the CIS, the OSCE, the Non-Aligned Movement and other international organizations. We are observing dynamic growth in trade, industry and cooperation. We spoke critically and seriously about this today, about the fact that the turnover has increased six times, but we should think critically about this. We have analyzed these issues very seriously. The number of joint ventures have increased four times. Among the successful landmark projects, one can note the launch of a joint production of cars in Hajigabul and cooperation in the field of sericulture. However, the indicators are still very modest and point to the need for maximizing the existing huge potential of our mutually complementing economies.
On the eve of our meeting, a fruitful business forum was held, a package of investment agreements and trade contracts worth over half a billion dollars was signed. These include promising projects in the oil and gas, petrochemical industries, energy, pharmaceuticals, building materials, wine, food, textiles, and jewelry. There are opportunities to implement projects on the basis of the Alat Free Economic Zone with subsequent entry into the EU markets.
We have also agreed that a joint investment fund would be created to promote the projects, and a meeting of the intergovernmental commission would be held next month to take policy measures to accelerate decisions.
Dear members of the delegation, our cooperation in the field of transport and communications is of a strategic nature. We intend to further increase cargo transportation using Azerbaijan's modern transport network, including the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway. This is especially true for the transit of food and industrial goods.
At the same time, current realities require the emergence of alternative corridors. In this context, the construction of railways Uzbekistan-Kyrgyzstan-China and Termez-Mazari Sharif-Kabul-Pishevar will allow our countries the opportunity to have the shortest access to the markets of the Asia-Pacific and South Asian countries with a capacity of more than 3 billion consumers in the future. We have agreed to set up a working group under the leadership of the ministers of transport to address priority tasks in this direction. We have also agreed to establish a working group under the leadership of foreign ministers. We will not delay these issues, the first meeting will be held in Tashkent next month. Of course, under the patronage of the foreign ministers there will be ministers of transport, investment and economy, I think, because we have very serious intentions.
I consider it very important to strengthen cooperation in agriculture. We are talking about creating a cluster for the production of silk, projects in the field of cotton growing, and the introduction of innovative developments. Our ministers should agree on a roadmap for all promising areas in the coming days and, while there is time, submit their proposals.
The most important role in expanding the multifaceted cooperation is given to direct interregional ties. We have agreed that our capitals and major cities would establish partnerships in the very near future. The fundamental agreement will be signed today. In addition, we propose to hold the first forum of regions and an exhibition of their industrial potential in Tashkent this year.
In the humanitarian dimension, it is necessary to regularly hold mutual Days of Culture and Cinema, increase exchanges and contacts between universities, scientific institutions, sports and youth organizations. The strengthening of business and humanitarian relations will help us to expand cooperation in the field of tourism. I am grateful to the President of Azerbaijan for the special attention and support, and for the adoption of a separate tourism program. We propose to jointly hold an Uzbek-Azerbaijani tourism fair this year. We are also ready to develop close and mutually beneficial cooperation in the field of restoration and preservation of monuments of our abundant cultural heritage.
In addition, an important document in the field of military and military-technical cooperation will be signed today. The defense ministers need to determine the priority steps for the implementation of these agreements today.
Dear Ilham Heydarovich, dear members of the delegation! I would like to emphasize again that our countries have enormous potential. Today, in a narrow format, we have once again discussed our potential in all areas in great detail and gave instructions to the co-chairs or chairs of intergovernmental commissions so that we would have a real result in the near future, before the meeting in Samarkand in November this year. Most importantly, we have gained a positive experience of our relationship. I want to tell all members of the delegation that we have never had such a trusting and open conversation. Today, we admitted in a very trusting manner that there are great opportunities, but, unfortunately, there are few results. These results should indicate that the historic visit of Ilham Heydarovich should in itself give a new impetus to our relations. I am fully satisfied with our talks today, because I wanted this visit to be historic – it is indeed historic in the sense that it will leave a big mark on the huge potential of our relationship, and this will be a real result.
Once again, let me welcome you to Uzbekistan. I am pleased to give you the floor, Ilham Heydarovich.
Speech of President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you, dear Shavkat Miromonovich, dear Uzbek brothers. First of all, I would like to once again thank you for your hospitality and for the kind invitation. I am very glad to be visiting fraternal Uzbekistan and to have the opportunity to discuss important issues of our future cooperation. The visit is truly historic. I fully share the opinion of Shavkat Miromonovich in terms of the areas he noted in his speech. We are laying the foundation for the future comprehensive development of our relations. Yesterday and today, about 20 documents were and will be signed, covering almost all important areas of our life. Of course, the political document – the Joint Declaration – determines the directions of our development for many years to come.
As for the issues of economic cooperation, I agree with what Shavkat Miromonovich has said. We need to step up our contacts. Relevant instructions have been given to the ministers. I am sure that there will be good results in each area – economic cooperation, increase of trade, transport and logistics, energy. We, the two presidents, have decided to keep the fulfillment of our instructions under personal control, and relevant ministries will regularly report to us on progress being made. In this way, we will be able to achieve significant progress in the trade and economic sphere and beyond. We have also discussed important issues of international cooperation and, of course, we note with great satisfaction the continuous mutual support in all international structures. Shavkat Miromonovich spoke about the organizations in which we cooperate. We actually cooperate as friends and brothers, and provide support.
I would also like to express special gratitude for your support of Azerbaijan in restoring the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani people felt the fraternal support of the Uzbek people in the most difficult times, and I, as President of Azerbaijan, have always felt the fraternal support of my brother Shavkat Miromonovich. This is very valuable for us, these are unforgettable events in the history of our relations.
Of course, taking into account the situation in the world, each country should strive to strengthen its defense capabilities. Today, a certain part of our dialogue with Shavkat Miromonovich was devoted to this issue. Relevant instructions have been given. I think that additional steps will be taken in the direction of military cooperation, military-technical cooperation, as well as cooperation in the field of military education. I think that this area will also strengthen our interaction, because there are topics that need to be discussed both in Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan. There are external challenges that our countries and peoples have to face. Therefore, I think the exchange of experience and tangible cooperation in this area will be more important than ever.
I am grateful to Shavkat Miromonovich for the prompt resolution of issues related to the development of Azerbaijani sericulture. When I asked for support, support was immediately provided, and this allowed us the opportunity to take steps to put this sector on the path of development. We have also discussed issues related to other areas of agricultural activity today. I am sure that there will be significant progress in these areas too. Of course, I heard a lot about the industrial potential of Uzbekistan both before and already during the visit. There will be an opportunity to get acquainted with a part of it in the technopark today. But I am already sure that it will be informative, and from the point of view of the implementation of joint projects, it is very important for our cooperation. There are already good elements we see within the framework of our communication. Namely, this is an automobile plant in Hajigabul. I was told today that there are plans to expand the range of car production and increase the number of cars. This is an enterprise that Uzbekistan can rightly be proud of. I know that there are many such enterprises in Uzbekistan.
I would also like to express gratitude for the fraternal assistance in the restoration of Karabakh, for the decision of President Shavkat Miromonovich to donate and build a school in the liberated city of Fuzuli. Work has already begun, and there are plans to put the school into operation by the next academic year. We appreciate this very much. This is the first such gift from anyone. We are still restoring Karabakh on our own. Of course, such a fraternal attitude is very valuable for us, because as soon as the second Karabakh war ended and Shavkat Miromonovich and I met, he put forward this initiative, and we accepted it with gratitude. From a practical point of view, this school will also be a symbol of our brotherhood and will remain in the memory of the Azerbaijani people for centuries.
I highly appreciate the reforms Shavkat Miromonovich is carrying out – reforms to increase the investment attractiveness of Uzbekistan, build up its industrial potential and address social issues. We have repeatedly met within the framework of various international events, including those in Baku, and exchanged views. And a country with such positive demographic dynamics as Uzbekistan, of course, is coping with these challenges. Industrial production, jobs, social well-being of the people are all topics that are constantly in the focus of attention of the President, and we in Azerbaijan and, I am sure, the people of Uzbekistan are seeing great achievements and great progress in these areas. We are happy about that. As friends and brothers, we rejoice in your successes. We are confident that this progressive development of the fraternal Uzbek people will be continued. For our part, of course, we will also make effort to build up our cooperation. We have talked a lot and in detail on many topics today. Most importantly, we will control the implementation of all orders.
Thank you again for your hospitality. I do hope that we will continue this active and productive dialogue today and tomorrow.
President Shavkat Mirziyoyev: Thank you again, Ilham Heydarovich, for your assessment of the reforms that Uzbekistan has carried out in recent years.