from Past to Present to Future” in Shusha [UPDATE]


The 4th International Conference themed “Shaping the Geopolitics
of Greater Eurasia: from Past to Present to Future”, dedicated to
the centennial anniversary of the national leader Heydar Aliyev,
has kicked off in Shusha, Azerbaijan, Azernews reports.

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham
attended the conference.

Opening the conference, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev

– Good Morning. Dear guests, welcome to Karabakh. Welcome to
Shusha. Very glad to see you here.

First of all I want to express gratitude to ADA University for
organizing this conference dedicated to the memory of the architect
of independent Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev. I was invited, and decided
to meet here in Karabakh.

I’ve been at many events organized by ADA University, meeting
with international experts, public figures in Baku, and first time
here. I hope you will enjoy your visit to Azerbaijan, your trip to
Shusha. Shusha has a special place in the history of Azerbaijan.
And now Shusha is being rebuilt almost from scratch.

This year was announced the “Year of Heydar Aliyev” in
commemoration of the 100th anniversary of our Great Leader. And
throughout the year, we organize numerous events, conferences in
Azerbaijan and abroad, paying respect to the memory of the founder
of independent Azerbaijan, and at the same time addressing the
important issues of our domestic politics, regional development,
international affairs. We wanted to celebrate the 100th anniversary
of Heydar Aliyev not by kind of a formal events, but by addressing
real issues, which need a special attention, because the
geo-politics in the region has changed, and the topic of the
conference also is covering this issue.

Heydar Aliyev was always a person who was protecting the
interests of the people of Azerbaijan. Regardless of the time,
regardless of the political situation, during the times of Soviet
Azerbaijan, when he was for more than ten years the leader of the
Soviet Azerbaijan even in the framework of those ideological
barriers, he was defending the interests of the Azerbaijani people.
He was trying to do everything so that we keep our identity. And
many steps he took during the times of 1970s and beginning of
1980s. Now we see that they were targeted to the time when
Azerbaijan would be independent. So, throughout the year, and of
course the events dedicated to his memory will continue until the
end of the year. We wanted to fill this space with practical steps,
with exchange of views, ideas, mainly with respect to the future
development of Azerbaijan and also regional development. Because we
cannot ignore situation in our region and though, we don’t have any
risks anymore after liberation of Karabakh inside the country, but
we are not living on an island. Meeting here in Shusha, has of
course a special meaning for all of us. Last year, by the way, I
announced the “Year of Shusha”, because it was the 270th
anniversary of the foundation of the city by Karabakh khan Panah
Ali, and Shusha always was the Azerbaijani city. Only during the
times of occupation, for more than 28 years, Shusha was under
foreign domination, but I know that you will be making a city tour
after our meeting and you will see that during the times of
occupation Shusha was almost totally destroyed. Though it once
again demonstrates that Shusha has never been a native city for

If it was, they would have kept it, they wouldn’t have destroyed
it. They would have developed it. All what you’ve seen or what you
will see, most of what you will see – the buildings are either been
renovated during the last two years and a half, or built from
scratch. Heydar Aliyev’s biggest dream was to see Shusha free and
we made his dream come true. So, we are proud of that. We are
happy, all Azerbaijanis, not only citizens of Azerbaijan, but all
Azerbaijanis of the world are proud of our victory. That was a
victory of justice, historical justice, victory of international
law. So, once again, thank you for making a trip here. The weather
is not very friendly, but this is how Shusha is, as we can never
predict. It can be storming, raining and then sunshine comes all of
a sudden and I hope you will enjoy your trip. Thank you.

x x x

Rector of ADA University Hafiz Pashayev: Mr.
President, thank you very much. We yesterday had very fruitful
discussion in Baku in our University. Actually, more than 60
scholars and politician, political practitioners came to Baku to
discuss this topic and commemorate our national leader`s
anniversary – the 100th anniversary. We had very good discussion
and we were, including myself, very much excited that we have
opportunity to be in Shusha, magnificent city, cultural capital of
Turkic world. So, we’re now here and we’re happy. Among 60
participants of the conference, at least half of them are first
time participating in our conference. So, if you allow me, we will
come to discussion. First, I would like to ask Michael Reynolds
from the United States Princeton University. He has a question.

Michael Reynolds, Associate Professor of Near
Eastern Studies, the Princeton University, the US: Thank you, Mr.
President. In April last year, you were speaking here in Shusha. I
think it was the 5th Congress of the World Azerbaijanis. And you
said that negotiations do not result in a treaty. Negotiations
between Armenia and Azerbaijan, do not result in a treaty wherein
Armenia recognizes the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and
Azerbaijan will not recognize the territorial integrity of Armenia
either, and will officially declare that. Now, today, although many
of us are hopeful that a peace treaty of some form will be and the
solution will be found between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Soon,
perhaps even as we speak in Washington, DC. It has already been two
and a half years since the end of the Second Karabakh War. And
still there’s no final solution to this conflict. If Armenia
continues to refuse to come to an agreement with Azerbaijan, what
options are on the table for Azerbaijan? And are there any options
not on the table?

President Ilham Aliyev: Well, I several times
elaborated on that. Saying that, if Armenia doesn’t want peace,
there’ll be no peace. And there are countries, which didn’t sign
peace agreement. We know it from history, but that will not be good
either for Armenia or for the region and of course not for
Azerbaijan. Therefore, we still hope that they will be reasonable.
And they will not use the same tactics as they used during the
times of occupation, when former Minsk Group was in the picture,
and for 28 years, did nothing by the way from the point of view of
results. And main reason for that was because Armenia didn’t want
to liberate the territories. Yes, Minsk Group was not very popular
in Azerbaijan during the times of occupation. Now when it actually
resigned, probably we should not go too far on it. But the main
reason why we could not find the peaceful settlement of the
conflict was because Armenia didn’t want it. They were just using
these tactics delaying and making one step forward, two or three,
maybe five steps back, and they wanted to seal the situation to
freeze it. They thought that they will be able to legitimize
occupation. They thought that we will agree to kind of a compromise
on our territorial integrity. They thought that their international
sponsors will always stand behind them, and will fight for them.
But that was miscalculation, they were wrong.

So, now, what can happen? The same thing can happen. They can
delay, they can use negotiation format, which already has been
established not in order to come to an agreement, but in order to
make the process endless, waiting for something, waiting for a
miracle, waiting for changes. And I think they will miss
opportunity, because almost thirty years of occupation did not give
them any advantage. On the contrary, they have been isolated from
the regional development. They lost the chance to become the really
independent country, not formally but in fact. They are looking now
for the new master or masters. But the history, the recent history
should teach them a lesson. So, we hope that they will understand
it. In my communications with the Armenian counterpart, I tried to
explain that a peace treaty, first of all, is in their interest,
opening of communications is in their interest. They will be able
to have access to different markets. And of course, it will be
beneficial for us, because we want this chapter to be closed. And
actually if you follow the chronology of statements and events, you
will see that it was Azerbaijan, which offered to start talking
about a peace agreement.

Because when Second Karabakh War ended, not many actors knew
what will be next. Because the trilateral declaration, it is not a
ceasefire agreement, but it is also not a peace agreement. So, what
should happen next was under big question mark. So, it was us who
made the initiative. It was us who put forward the vision for the
future, for integrated Southern Caucasus, for regional cooperation,
for normalization of relations. Therefore, we put an initiative to
start peace talks, there was silence from all directions. Then
waiting for some time, we put forward these famous five principles,
which are totally in line with norms and principles of
international law and Armenia formally had to either reject it or
to accept it. Rejecting it would have demonstrated them again being
unconstructive, because there was nothing in contradiction with
international law in these principles. Accepting it, probably it
was difficult for them from a psychological point of view and from
point of view of agreeing to normal behavior. So, then we a had
long, how to say, break again, because of Armenian unwillingness to
engage in serious negotiations.

We’ve sent them four copies, four new variants of a draft of
peace agreement. They return their comments. We’ve been waiting for
more than 40 days for the last comments, which we received just a
week ago, just prior to the Washington meeting, because they
realize that without that the Washington meeting will be absolutely
useless. But what we’ve seen in these comments is again territorial
claims against Azerbaijan. It was absolutely clear for Armenia, for
international players during my numerous communications with the US
and EU officials that there should be a two track approach. One is
Armenia-Azerbaijan normalization and another communications between
Azerbaijan`s authorities and Armenian community in Karabakh.
Therefore, any attempt to put so-called Nagorno-Karabakh Republic,
which does not exist, into the text of the peace treaty is

Therefore, we hope that they will be constructive. If not, well,
we are not planning to undertake any other measures rather than
diplomatic. We had enough of that. Therefore, there’ll be just no
peace, no communications. They will be isolated again. And they
will have to find the place for them in this new geopolitical
configuration. Because all geopolitical situation, not only in the
region, but globally have changed. We have our place there, which
is very stable and which is becoming more and more solid. But for
them, it will be a big challenge. So, I hope that Washington
negotiations will produce – if not results, but at least kind of
signs of progress.

Hafiz Pashayev: Next, Vladimir Socor, the
Jamestown Foundation.

Vladimir Socor, Senior Fellow, the Jamestown
Foundation, the US: Mr. President, Azerbaijan has established
bilateral alliance outside NATO’s framework with a NATO member
country and regional power Türkiye. This is a unique achievement of
Azerbaijan in the entire post-Soviet context. This relationship
amounts to a military security alliance. It is closer than most
strategic partnerships. And it is rooted not only in personal
relationships, important as these are, but more deeply in the
shared national interests. Many of us would like to be confident
that this alliance will continue regardless of the results of
Turkish elections and will become a permanent feature. Also, with
Türkiye involved in a number of contested theaters simultaneously,
all making claims on Turkish resources at the same time, many of us
would like to be reassured or rather feel that there is a strong
case to be made for Azerbaijan, to hold the top priority among
Türkiye’s own national interests. Thank you.

President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you very much. I
fully share your views on this issue. By the way, the Shusha
Declaration, which made Türkiye and Azerbaijan officially allies
was signed here in Shusha in several metres from this building. And
that was the historical event. Though de-facto relations between
Azerbaijan and Türkiye were relations between allies. And we’ve
demonstrated it, especially during the last 20 years. During last
20 years, when President Erdogan has led Türkiye, our relations
transformed by our joint efforts with him into relations not only
between brothers, but between allies, and we’ve demonstrated it
many times. Therefore, of course, this is an important factor of
regional development, and you’re absolutely right. Azerbaijan,
becoming a military ally to Türkiye, indirectly becomes also, to a
certain degree, a military ally to NATO. And by the way, there was,
for several years, a kind of misperception of the road to
Euro-Atlantic integration and cooperation by different countries of
the former Soviet Union, whether it’s NATO, whether it’s EU. Yes,
Azerbaijan did not engage formally in any form of agreements. We
even did not sign an association agreement with the EU, unlike some
of the members of the Eastern Partnership Program. But that was not
because we didn’t want to be closer. We don’t want to have a kind
of a unilateral format of cooperation. To my mind, I’m absolutely
sincere with you, the association agreement is not an agreement in
a normal sense of the word. It’s just a list of instructions, which
have been presented to those countries which joined this format. It
is their choice, we will respect it, but this is not our choice. We
have chosen the different path. And we signed strategic partnership
agreements and declarations with nine members of EU. So, this is
one third of member states. And strategic partnership declarations,
which have been signed or adopted, do not make difference and have
much higher value than association agreement.

The same with NATO. Some countries may seem to be very close.
Some countries announced, I mean the countries of the Eastern
Partnership, their target to be a NATO member. Some countries
announced it for more than 15 years. By the way, NATO promised
Ukraine and Georgia 15 years ago to become member states. I
remember that, I was present at the Bucharest NATO Summit, when
Ukraine and Georgia were denied by some leaders of some leading
European countries from the Membership Action Plan. But instead, it
was announced that they will become a member. When? Nobody said. 15
years have passed. So, we’re there where they are. But we signed an
agreement with the second NATO member state with respect to the
potential of the army and this is serious. So, we always have
chosen the paths of practical steps rather than declarations, which
then did not transform into tangible results. With respect to
relations between Azerbaijan and Türkiye in the future, I’m
absolutely sure that both countries will not only keep the format
of this alliance, but will strengthen it. Because in this new
geopolitical realities, this already became an important factor of
regional stability and regional security, whether it is military
component, energy, communications, trade, etc. So, I’m very
optimistic and I think that nothing will change the fraternal
character of relations between Türkiye and Azerbaijan.

Hafiz Pashayev: Margarita Assenova, The
Jamestown Foundation.

Margarita Assenova, Senior Fellow, the
Jamestown Foundation, the US: Thank you very much, Mr. President
for taking the time and coming to Shusha to meet with us today. I
have a question, which concerns security and potential developments
in the region. A potential collapse or disintegration of Russia
could have serious security implications for Azerbaijan and for the
Caucasus. Would Moscow try to stir up trouble problems between
Azerbaijan and its neighbors – Dagestan, Chechnya – in order to
deflect attention from its rupture? That’s one of the possible
scenarios. My question is how can Azerbaijan prepare for such
scenario? And who would be Baku’s partners in such case?

President Ilham Aliyev: First of all, I think
that we will not see the time, when as you put it, Russia will be
disintegrated. We don’t foresee this scenario for Russia. We
support the territorial integrity of Russia and all the countries.
And I think any disintegration of any country, especially your
neighbor, of course, can possess a potential threat to you. With
respect to our neighbors – our historical neighbors and brothers in
Dagestan and Chechnya – we have relations based on our history,
common history and brotherhood. And Azerbaijan in the Southern
Caucasus was always – throughout all the times, during the times of
Soviet Union, during the times of Czarist Russia and before – has
always been the closest to the peoples of Northern Caucasus by
historical ties, by religious ties, by a lot of ties, like relative
ties. So, we always wanted our brothers in Dagestan and Chechnya to
be able to fully realize their great potential. And today we have a
very active format of interaction on different levels. A lot of
delegations come from these two republics to Azerbaijan and from
Azerbaijan. We’ve signed agreements of cooperation, and just
recently agreement, a kind of a program, for several years with
Dagestan. So, Caucasus is a complicated area. Unfortunately, like
Balkans. I think one of the most beautiful areas of the world –
Balkans and Caucasus – but the most complicated and with a tragic
history. And we know the tragic history of our brothers in the
North of Caucasus, they know tragic history of Azerbaijanis in the
Southern Caucasus. We will never forget this history, because if we
forget it, then we will not have future and we will not be able to
properly measure our steps in time and in actions. But that also is
something, which unites us. And of course, in relations between
Azerbaijan and Russia, communications between Azerbaijan and
republics of the Northern Caucasus were always an important factor.
And it is well understood in Moscow and in Baku and during numerous
high-level contexts, we always reflected the importance of
stability and peace in the Northern Caucasus and in Southern
Caucasus, particularly in Azerbaijan. Although there are dividing
lines, administrative borders, state borders in the Caucasus, but
Caucasus is one organism and you cannot divide the body in two. And
I think today’s level of mutual understanding of threats and of
potential, I think, is more visible, because of the change of
geopolitical situation and because of the growing importance of
Azerbaijan, also, for stability in the Northern Caucasus.

Hafiz Pashayev: Next, John Roberts, Energy
Security Specialist, Methinks Ltd., the United Kingdom.

John Roberts: Mr. President, thank you very
much for coming here today. I have a question, which is how serious
do you think Kazakhstan’s problems are regarding its energy export
routes through Russia? And what can Azerbaijan do to help
Kazakhstan find alternative export routes?

President Ilham Aliyev: Well, according to my
information, there is no problem for Kazakhstan to export its
hydrocarbons through traditional routes. And I know that there have
been some technical problems in the pipelines or terminal, but
they’ve been fixed. And then today again, the oil from Kazakhstan
is going through traditional routes. But at the same time, during
my official visit to Kazakhstan last month, we also discussed the
prospects of cooperation in the energy area. And there been several
delegations from Kazakhstan to Azerbaijan and backwards to discuss
this issue. And the agreement was reached to start transportation
of oil from Kazakhstan through Azerbaijan’s pipeline
infrastructure. So, the process has started just recently, and the
agreement was signed to deliver 1.5 million tonnes of oil and to
ship it through Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline to the Mediterranean
coast. Also, there are plans, and the negotiations are continued.
Now in order to increase the volume of Kazakhstan’s oil through for
Azerbaijan, our pipeline infrastructure allows that. With respect
to the increase through Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, the problem can be the
quality of final product, because Kazakhstani oil is different from
Azeri Light. And if big volume is shipped through
Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, so, we will lose quality, how to say, premium.
Because Azeri Light oil, which we export through
Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan is more precious even than Brent. But there are
other options, of course, we can work on some commercial terms. If
the quality of the final oil in Ceyhan changes or we have a
pipeline, which is now empty, goes from Baku to the Georgian Supsa
Sea port and can be also engaged, because there is a big market in
the Black Sea – I know that Kazakhstan owns refinery capacity,
facilities in some Black Sea countries – so, we always were
supportive to the plans of our neighbors across the Caspian to use
Azerbaijan infrastructure for their exports. By the way for many
years, oil from Turkmenistan is being shipped through Azerbaijan,
through Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. I can tell you that maybe you
don’t know. But even Russian oil, part of Russian oil, which Russia
is producing in the Caspian is being shipped through Azerbaijan to
Ceyhan. And as far as I remember, it’s about more than 2 million
tons per year, something about close to 2.5 million tons per year
of Russian oil, which goes to Ceyhan. So, these are all, you know,
commercial issues. And I think that we should not look for some
geopolitical changes, some political preferences. You know if
Russia decides to ship its oil through Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan because
it’s more beneficial, of course, they will do it. So, today we are
a transit country for oil from Russia, from Turkmenistan, from
Kazakhstan. If the volume of oil grows, we will be only happy. Who
would not like to have more transit fees? So, in the future and not
only oil by the way. We are providing important transportation for
Kazakhstan with respect to uranium exports. And this is very
important not only for Kazakhstan, but also for those countries –
two countries – which are recipients of uranium and many other
cargos, petrochemicals, fertilizers from Turkmenistan. We are, by
the way, expanding capacity of our trade seaport, waiting for more
cargoes from Asia.

Hafiz Pashayev: Next, Vasa László, Research
Professor, the Hungarian Institute of International Affairs.

Vasa László: Thank you very much, Your
Excellency. Thanks again for being here, and for being invited. My
question is rather focusing on economic issues of the region. There
are some thoughts of the Central Asian countries to form a kind of
cooperation among their markets and economies. For sure it is not
another development of the next year, but at least they are
thinking of it. If it will be realized, Azerbaijan would join such
an economic community with Central Asian countries? Thank you.

President Ilham Aliyev: It’s always difficult
to answer the question, which has this if. You know, if something
happens what would you do. If that happens, we will see what we
will do. Therefore, I think we should not, how to say, run in front
of the train. So, Azerbaijan is not a Central Asian country, but is
closely linked by historical and cultural links to Central Asia and
now much more linked by political contacts. I visited this year,
last month, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan on an official visit. In
March, the presidents of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan visited
Azerbaijan. I also visited Kyrgyzstan on an official visit in the
end of last year. And last year I visited Uzbekistan three times.
So, you can see how active the dialogue is between Azerbaijan and
Central Asian countries. And it has very positive dynamics. We
think in general, regardless of what may happen, if something
happens regardless, I think the Central Asia and Azerbaijan in the
future can be more integrated because, of course, first of all,
transportation, security issues, because today issues of
transportation security and access to export markets for Central
Asian countries become more important than a while ago. It’s
understandable why. And here is a friendly country with already
modern transportation infrastructure whether its railroad, sea
ports, biggest fleet in the Caspian, also, by the way, growing
number of vessels in the Black Sea. We actively now started to
increase our transportation presence in the Black Sea with the
biggest air cargo company in the region and with access to
corridors like East-West and North-South. Of course, it is a big
asset and definitely we are doing everything in order to contribute
to regional cooperation between the Central Asia and Azerbaijan.
What kind of partnership that will be from formal point of view is
not so important. With countries of the Central Asia like
Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan – we are
together in the Organization of Turkish States together with
Türkiye. As I said, we have very active political and economic
dialogue with Tajikistan. So, this is a kind of a reality of
today’s time. And of course, it’s important to activate even more.
Though I can tell you that my interaction and mutual visits with my
Central Asian partners during the last two years are
unprecedentedly high. So, this actually, I think answers also
partly to your question, what will happen if something happens.

Hafiz Pashayev: Brenda Shaffer, the US Naval
Postgraduate School, please.

Brenda Shaffer, Professor, the Naval
Postgraduate School, the US: President Aliyev thank you for meeting
with us. And it’s an honor to be here in Shusha. It’s still a
dream, I think for all of us. And as you said, international law
was very clear about the status of Shusha, about the status of
Karabakh. But Azerbaijan under your leadership had to implement the
UN resolutions on its own. And so, I have two questions on this.
One – you know that principle of territorial integrity. We hear, it
unequivocally apply to Ukraine, apply to Georgia, even the most
recently released US National Security Strategy mentions that the
US must promote territorial integrity of Ukraine and Georgia and
must promote peace in between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The words
explicitly don’t promote your territorial integrity. Explain to us
why is this principle applied to certain countries and not applied
to other countries and what are the implications? And if I can be a
bit greedy and have a second question? Energy calculations, energy
policies are very difficult, right? There are technology,
geopolitics or economics, laws and figuring this out is very
difficult. But Azerbaijan always got this right meaning extra
capacity in the BTC when people said why do you need to waste all
this steel and here we have central Asian oil coming. President
Heydar Aliyev said Central Asian oil will come. It was one of his
statements. The Southern Gas Corridor built scalable extra capacity
when people were saying that this is the last major gas pipeline,
gas is a thing of the past. Now, when commercial operation started
in the Southern Gas Corridor in December 2020 already people and
countries were in line for extra gas. So, what are the things we
need to look at to get energy forecasts right as Azerbaijan has
done so correctly? Thank you.

President Ilham Aliyev: With respect to the
first question, you know, I ask myself – how many times I asked
this question to our American partners. Why? And never got any
answer, because it was obvious that there is a big injustice to
Azerbaijan and a kind of attempt to, again put a dividing line in
the methodological approach to the issues related to territorial
integrity of countries of former Soviet Union and always we’ve
heard in official statements, in letters by US presidents to the
leaders of Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine, very straightforward
wording about support of territorial integrity. And when it comes
to Azerbaijan, it is as if it is there, but at the same time,
peaceful settlement. So, during the times of occupation, it was
even more unfair and unjust. And of course, we were much more
sensitive to that. Now, we are less sensitive because we’ve done
what international community was supposed to do, the UN Security
Council, permanent members were supposed to do – implement
resolutions of the Security Council. So, we’ve done it ourselves.
Therefore, as I said, we don’t pay too much attention to that. But
of course, we think that this injustice must be lifted, and single
standard approach must be applied not only to countries of former
Soviet Union, but to all other countries. And there cannot be any
justification with respect to political preferences – if one
country is more close and another country is not so close. Though
it’s also a questionable whose the factor is closer. Also, I think
all the references and a kind of a justification or excuse,
pointing out on Armenian lobby also are too exaggerated. It’s a
very good excuse for those who do not want to articulate
straightforward position, not only the United States but also look
at France. Even worse, even worse. France two chambers of
Parliament recognized so-called Nagorno-Karabakh, which no country
in the world including Armenia recognized. Therefore, this is how
they call it real politics. Therefore, again, any kind of
justification by Armenian lobbyist exaggerated. Just the question
is still in the air. Why it happens? We need to have an answer. But
again, I’d like to say that now this answer is not so important, as
it was before. You remember, Brenda very well how we’re in
Azerbaijan were sensitive to this famous 907 amendment to Freedom
Support Act. When I was not the president in my previous capacity,
I was visiting Washington at least twice a year. Ambassador
Pashayev at that time, also remembers very well how many doors we
knocked in White House, National Security Council, in Senate, in
Congress, just asking to lift this amendment. It didn’t happen. So,
I think in Azerbaijan nobody remembers 907 amendment, because first
we don’t need this assistance any longer. And second, there was a
waiver to that made by President Clinton and then the presidents
who succeeded him continue that. And actually it also demonstrates
that it was resolved. So, with respect to the formal articulation
of straightforward support of territorial integrity of Azerbaijan
by the Western countries, I think the time will come. Actually,
it’s already coming. And important is that Armenia itself, actually
now, more openly than some of Armenian friends in the West says as
they de facto recognize it, because they’ve signed the Prague
Declaration last October, Sochi Declaration again last October,
where they agreed that the Almaty Declaration of 1991 should be
taken as a basis for normalization and Almaty Declaration actually
draws administrative boundaries of former republics and consider
them as their official borders. That means that they already agreed
that Karabakh is Azerbaijan. And I said recently that they just
need to say the last word. They said A they need to say B. They
should say what I said, Karabakh is Azerbaijan, I am waiting for
that. I hope the time will come.

And with respect to energy security, you are absolutely right.
We always did and measured our plans with respect to the future,
because that was a vision of my father. And you’re absolutely
right. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline has a capacity of 50
million tonnes. And it, by the way, never, maybe one year it was
close to that. But, now we have as I said, oil from Central Asia,
oil from Russia, more oil will come from these sources. We have
condensate from Shahdeniz. We will have condensate from Absheron,
hopefully, this year, and from many other fields. By the way, with
respect to our future gas production and transportation, several
new fields will be activated soon. As I said, Absheron with a
capacity of 300 billion cubic meters, so-called Deep Gas of ACG
with minimum the same amount – already the work has started and
several other. So, there’ll be more condensate in the pipeline than
we even anticipated. And one day, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline,
I think, can be working full capacity with oil from Azerbaijan
condensate from Azerbaijan and also oil from Central Asia. The same
was with natural gas and you know that the diameter of TANAP and
TAP are different. And this is again because in TAP, we didn’t have
the majority share. We have only 20% in TAP. Therefore, we could
not, if I may use this word, dictate the partners that we need to
have a bigger capacity. In TANAP, we have a majority share. So,
TANAP is 16 bcm and TAP is 10. So, we are trying to expand twice
because there is a big demand and the gas is here.

Those who said many years ago that Azerbaijan do not have oil,
now were saying that Azerbaijan does not have gas. And just
recently I was informed that European Commissioner on Energy Madam
Simson, called Azerbaijan a Pan-European supplier of gas and this
is true. And just recently I said we will be supplying gas in
maximum couple of years to 10 countries including eight European
countries. So, this demonstrates that we need not only to plan the
project from commercial point of view, but also from strategic
point of view and need to continue this combination. Because
companies, which are investing, and banks, which are lending money,
of course, they look at your potential today, some prospects for
future, and they think that it should be the diameter and the
capacity. But we look strategically. We better have capacity and
have it not fully engaged rather than to have resources and not to
be able to transport. So, the same will be, I’m sure, with our
renewable projects. An original target for Black Sea cable was one
gigawatt. But when Azerbaijan joined the project, we increased it
to four gigawatt, because we already signed contracts and MoUs with
international companies to produce 25 gigawatts of solar and wind
energy in Azerbaijan. So, MoU with these companies, leading
companies actually means contract. So, 25 gigawatt will be
available here in the Caspian and onshore, and we need to have
capacity, we need transmission. So, if everybody listened to what
we advocated for today, I think European security on energy would
have been much more better protected. Thank you.

Hafiz Pashayev: Thank you, Mr. President remind
me about Section 907.

President Ilham Aliyev: You forgot too.

Hafiz Pashayev: It was my favorite topic during
my years in Washington. So, I remember how late President Heydar
Aliyev was…

President Ilham Aliyev: We had, by the way, you
probably remember, a kind of this mark when you have on the roads
like 60 km or 100 km, we had 907 crossed.

Hafiz Pashayev: It was t-shirt.

President Ilham Aliyev: T-shirt.

Hafiz Pashayev: So, I remember how with very
passion late Heydar Aliyev was trying to explain members of
congress, big number of them together, that it’s unjustifiable. And
then in spite of all this explanation, some members still insisted
that you have to be very polite toward demands of Armenians.

President Ilham Aliyev: Maybe, we need to
explain a little bit what 907 means, because I think not everybody
in the audience understands. The Freedom Support Act was adopted by
the US Congress after the collapse of the Soviet Union in order to
support newly emerged republics. And pro-Armenian lobby in the
Congress – they made amendment which was amendment 907, which
deprived Azerbaijan from that right, from direct US assistance and,
it’s most important why, because Azerbaijan was blockading Armenia.
So, can you imagine the level of the manipulation? Azerbaijan was
occupied by Armenia, and the territories which were adjusted
Armenian border – Kalbajar, Lachin, Gubadli, Zangilan – all were
under occupation. How could we blockade Armenia if our territory is
under occupation? So, that was why we were absolutely, how to say,
frustrated when we could not explain that this is not fair. But
nevertheless, you see Mr. Ambassador, now we have to explain what
907 was, nobody remembers it.

Hafiz Pashayev: But still that’s law of the
United States. Injustice, which we still have and double standards
still we have. I think it’s very much in the fact that it’s still a
law of United States government.

President Ilham Aliyev: The most important is
to change the reality on the ground, and to continue.

Hafiz Pashayev: Exactly. Next, Neil Melvin,
Director International Security Studies, the Royal United Services
Institute (RUSI), the United Kingdom. Please.

Neil Melvin: Thank you, Mr. President.
Azerbaijan has long been a part of European security, including
through its membership with the Organization for Security and
Cooperation in Europe. And you’ve already spoken today about the
long-standing approach that you’ve taken to Euro Atlantic
integration. But European security is changing. Russia’s war
against Ukraine is transforming European security. What used to be
a collective project with Russia is now becoming a project about
how to deter and contain Russia. Russia is the threat to European
security. And that is only going to become clearer with the Vilnius
NATO Summit, which we’re seeing a realignment of Europe, a
transformation of the security environment on the Black Sea. So, my
question is, given all of the plans that you’ve been outlining for
Azerbaijan’s role as a transit company country and an energy
country, do you see new challenges as a result of this shift,
particularly as regards the positioning towards Russia from the
Western Community? And do you anticipate that Azerbaijan may have
to adjust some of its external policies in this new

President Ilham Aliyev: Because it is difficult
to predict what will be the end of the standoff when and how
Russian-Ukrainian war ends and what will be a geopolitical
situation after this war ends. Because sooner or later, the war
will come to an end. Though, we cannot exclude that the way how is
the war is conducted could be modified. But again, it’s premature
to talk about that. So, everything will depend on that, but it is
absolutely clear that the world will never be the same as it was
before the Russian-Ukrainian war. This is absolutely clear. And I
think also absolutely clear for many European countries, NATO
members as they had to take more serious steps with respect to
security and the defense capabilities, because they themselves on
the leadership level admit that they did not do enough in order to
supply them with modern weapons, ammunitions. They probably found
out that some of their statistics of their possession is not
correct. It happens sometimes. So, I think this new geopolitical
change will lead to militarization of Europe, of the world. And on
one hand, it can be a dangerous kind of a trigger, on other hand, I
think that could be also a kind of factor of deterrence. We in
Azerbaijan, we realized many years ago that no one will help us and
all our illusions about prevalence of international law
disappeared. Not immediately, but throughout the times of
negotiations. So, we realized that if we don’t have a strong army,
if we don’t raise young generation ready to fight for the dignity
not only for the land, we will always be occupied and always will
complain. We were fed up with complaining, you know, let others
complain about us now. That was how it was here in Azerbaijan. I
think Azerbaijan’s example is valuable. I know that the way how we
conducted the battlefield, particularly liberation of Shusha, is
being evaluated in international military academies. When you were
approaching Shusha, you probably have seen the rock and it’s just a
fortress. It is very difficult to conquer. And Shusha was occupied
because of the treason of many of those who were in power in
Azerbaijan or trying to come to power. So, liberation of Shusha is
really a demonstration of our spirit. So, I think that geopolitical
changes in order that they do not create a problem for you, but on
the contrary, be an opportunity depends on you, on your strategy,
on your proper analysis of situation, and also on your principal
policy. Because if countries start to maneuver, like for instance,
what we see now in Armenia, it’s an attempt to maneuver, attempt to
sit now not on two chairs, but I think minimum four chairs and it
is impossible. When it comes to Azerbaijan, whether it’s our policy
on regional development or policy on international affairs, on
issues related to territorial integrity of countries is absolutely
clear, absolutely free from any kind of current situation
interests. And I think that Azerbaijan will become much stronger as
a result of geopolitical change. We already see it, and the way how
Armenia is coming closer to not only understanding but to publicly
admitting Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan, and also partly because
of geopolitical change, partly because of collapse of the illusions
that someone will come and fight for them. So, and of course,
Azerbaijan’s energy resources now much more needed to strengthen
European energy security than ever before. So, I am not pessimistic
with respect to our country’s prospects, rather more optimistic,
but try always to be realistic.

Hafiz Pashayev: Thank you. Arian Starova,

Arian Storova, Member of the Board, the
Albanian Institute for International Studies: Very happy to be here
and to share thoughts and your opinions, Mr. President. Thank you
very much for that. I have two questions. In fact, the second
question you`ve already given some answer, but probably, I would
like to modify a little bit. The first question is: What’s your
opinion about the Belt and Road Initiative in Chinese One, about
the future of that initiative? My second question has to do with
the war of Russia in Ukraine. You said that it’s very difficult to
foresee and predict about the end of that, but I would rather put
it differently and say probably that, how do you think this
conflict might end? Thank you very much.

President Ilham Aliyev: The Belt and Road
Initiative always was supported by Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan was among
a limited number of countries, which got invitation and
participated in a high level international conference. It was, I
think, in spring 2019 in China dedicated to the Belt and Road
Initiative. Azerbaijan is considered to be an important part of
that project, especially now. So, we are very optimistic, what adds
optimism is, first, that we made very good homework, as I said
already, we modernized completely and still in the process of
final, final touch, I would say, to modernize and to prepare more
capacity for transportation infrastructure. At the same time more
interest from Central Asia to use our infrastructure. And also I
would like to say that in the end of last year the projects of
building new railroad connection between China, Kyrgyzstan,
Uzbekistan and Caspian have also started. So, this project was in
the face of discussions for several years. So, it was officially
already started and it demonstrates that if it started that it will
work, definitely that there’ll be more cargoes. So, we’re now
working with our partners on the eastern shores of the Caspian and
in general in Central Asia on issues related to unification of
tariffs, on making this road not only important from a point of
view of transportation security, but also from commercial point of
view. And it is possible. If each country, part of these projects,
behaves in a fair way, and we have agreement on tariff unification
and also customs administration. This is also very important to
limit the bureaucratic procedures, to have more, how to say,
electronic forms of joint operability.

With respect to the Russian-Ukrainian war, you ask a question
that no one can answer. Maybe I know that someone can know when it
will come to an end. But definitely it’s not Azerbaijan, and for
me, it will be irresponsible to make any predictions. Of course, as
most of the countries in the world we want this war to stop sooner
than later. But at the same time, as realists, we understand that
probably it will not be possible to stop it sooner than later. So,
that is a big tragedy for the peoples of these countries and for
Europe and for the world.

Hafiz Pashayev: Thank you.

President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you.

Hafiz Pashayev: Nigar Goksel, Türkiye Project
Director, the International Crisis Group.

Nigar Goksel: Thank you very much, Mr.
President. With the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan in
Washington, hopes were raised that a peace agreement, a
breakthrough might be seen towards a peace agreement. But I gather
from what you said that you’re not very optimistic about this. I
also gather that you don’t have much hope. So, the external actors
playing a very positive role in forging a peace agreement. So, I
was wondering whether you could speak to whether any of the
external actors are actually actively might try to prevent a peace
agreement, whether there’s a spoiler role and in my mind, I’m
thinking about the interplay between the US and Iran, perhaps,
between the US and Russia. How does the tensions between these
powers play out in the South Caucasus and affect the chances of
reaching a peace agreement with Armenia?

President Ilham Aliyev: I am less optimistic
because of those comments, which we received. As I said several
days ago, after waiting for more than 40 days, where we saw that
almost 95% of the comments were the same like the previous one. So
again, attempts to put under questions territorial integrity of
Azerbaijan, again attempts to incorporate in some way, so-called
Nagorno-Karabakh into peace agreement between Armenia and
Azerbaijan, again attempts to cross when we put a proposal that we
will combat together against terrorism, extremism, radicalism and
separatism – all the rest remains on the separatism – Armenians
cross. So, that means they will again trigger separatism in
Azerbaijan. So, that reduced our optimism, but again we will see,
because this session of negotiations is different from previous. It
will already last for a couple of days and maybe will last for a
couple of days more. And our idea was that they should come with
some result, if not, it will be a big disappointment. At the same
time, I think that the best way how to come to an agreement is
direct negotiations between Azerbaijan and Armenia without any
mediator and without any facilitator or spoiler. Before the
Russian-Ukrainian war, we have seen the attempts of the former
Minsk Group co-chairs to reengage again. We were actively against
that. Because our position was that the Minsk Group failed and
since 1992 until 2020 produced no result. The actual result was
negative. Because we clearly understood in the end of so-called
negotiations, during the times of occupation that Minsk group
co-chairs just wanted to have situation unchanged. In other words,
to keep the status quo, which was very comfortable for them and for
Armenia, but not comfortable for us. Therefore, we’ve changed the
status-quo. So, they were planning to join the efforts and to
persuade Azerbaijan that the Minsk Group should in some form
continue to be around. And when asked about what could that be, I
said, first, we don’t see any opportunity for doing as this usual
business has finished. What countries of the former Minsk Group
co-chairs can do if they want to help just to facilitate
normalization of relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia. So, I
said the Karabakh conflict has been resolved and absolute majority
of the principles, which were called Madrid principles have been
implemented by Azerbaijan. Therefore, if you want to help, please
concentrate on a peace agreement and persuade Armenia to be
constructive. If any of these countries, I mean, now, the United
States and Russia, of course, because after France took unilateral
pro-Armenian position, it actually deprived itself from any kind of
mediation. It is absolutely clear and not only, by the way, the
so-called recognitions of separatism in Karabakh, but also other
very open anti- Azerbaijani statements and actions in the United
Nations, in Francophonie, in other formats and public statements of
politicians actually isolated France from being mediator. Because
mediator must at least pretend to be neutral. If you are not
neutral in your soul, you at least have to pretend that you are
neutral. They did not even try to do. So, now we see these efforts
from the United States, from Russia, you probably know that next
round of negotiations is supposed to take place between the
ministers of the two countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan – in Russia
this month. There is a European format of President Charles Michel,
who several times convenes meetings on the level of leaders of the
country. So, I think that may continue, but again I think direct
negotiations between two countries will be more useful and helpful.
I think that we need to go in that direction. Of course, if Armenia
also is ready to do it.

Hafiz Pashayev: David Merkel, Managing
Director, the Summit International Advisors, the US.

David Merkel: Mr. President, good to see you
again. I’m really honored to be here on the 100th anniversary of
Heydar Aliyev. Because of the ambassador’s kindness, I had the
opportunity of spending time with President Heydar Aliyev. It was
at Yeni Azerbaijan Party Congress that first time I had the honor
of meeting you. I have a request and a question. Being in Karabakh,
I’d love to have a picture with you in Karabakh to take back to my
friends on a Hill with regard to 907, which I have heard a lot
about from yourself and the ambassador and other Azerbaijani
friends. My question has to do with Iran. A lot in the Western
press has been discussed on increasing tension between Azerbaijan
and Iran and even a suggestion of kind of a little bit of axis of
Armenia and Russia and Iran, on the one side, and Türkiye and
Azerbaijan and Israel on the other. So, if you could just give us
your thoughts on relations with one of your neighbors.

President Ilham Aliyev: Well, we always tried
to develop these relations and as a President for almost 20 years,
I was in Iran many times on official visits and previous presidents
of Iran many times visited Azerbaijan. So, we had very active trade
relations. We worked actively on issues related to transportation,
particularly, the North-South Transport Corridor. And we saw that
these relations have big potential, because always it is good to
have good relations with your neighbor, especially when we have
also a lot to remember in our history.

But, of course, during the times of occupation, we expected more
from Iran with respect to support of Azerbaijan’s territorial
integrity. And they always supported Azerbaijan’s territorial
integrity and voted for Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity in the
United Nations, in the Islamic Cooperation Organization. So, we
must be absolutely fair about that. And but of course, people in
Azerbaijan were not very happy with Iranian-Armenian relations. But
as politicians we understood that every country has its own foreign
policy priorities. Iran and Armenia are neighbors. Many people in
Azerbaijan expected the same attitude as Türkiye, as Saudi Arabia,
as Pakistan demonstrated during the times of occupation. Actually,
these three countries did not even have diplomatic relations with
Armenia because of occupation. So, I’m just telling you about the
popular mood in Azerbaijan. So, people thought that it would be
natural if Iran could be among these three countries and to
demonstrate solidarity, especially because of active use of the
territory of Iran by Armenia with respect to transportation,
including transportation of military ammunition and equipment. But
nevertheless, our relations were very solid. We agreed, together
with other Caspian littoral states, on the Caspian Sea Convention.
It was not easy. It took almost 30 years for countries to agree and
there’ve been a lot of disagreements. I don’t want to go into
details. But finally, in Aktau, Kazakhstan, we signed the
convention. So, that was also important that we’ve already come to
an agreement how Caspian Sea boundaries and resources will be
divided. But unfortunately, after the Second Karabakh War there
have been several steps, which led to this escalation. And of
course, if you look at the chronology of these steps, you will see
that Azerbaijan was not the initiator. And why should we be
initiators? We have such a huge challenge and task in front of us –
reconstruction of Karabakh and Eastern Zangezur. We do not have the
need to have any problems with any country, especially with a
neighboring country. But everything happened after we put cameras
on road between Lachin and Khankendi, and we’ve detected regular
movement of Iranian trucks to Karabakh and that was absolutely
illegal. Because Iran recognizes territorial integrity of
Azerbaijan and should not do things like that. We started to
monitor the situation. We thought that maybe it’s just a kind of an
accident, maybe the drivers who came from Iran to Armenia they lost
the road and by accident, they came to Karabakh. So, everything can
happen. But then we started to see that it’s already a kind of a
tendency. So, my assistant invited the Iranian ambassador for a
meeting by my instruction, private meeting, asking to convey to
officials that we want kind of request to stop it. Because it is
not good for our relations and it is not good from all points of
view. We expected that will stop. But unfortunately, it did not
stop. So, this traffic continued, illegal access to Azerbaijan from
Iran continued. Then, we had to make an official step. We issued a
diplomatic note and it was published and the Iranian ambassador was
invited to our foreign ministry and that was made public that we
expressed our dissatisfaction with that. So, this is a usual
diplomatic procedure, nothing special. We thought that it will be
the kind of message that will be responded. But unfortunately, not
only it didn’t stop, but this traffic became more intensive, what
they were doing, and everything is documented because we have
cameras already there. They were putting fake Armenian plaques and
keeping the trucks as they were with this Arabic script. So, we had
to stop it. So, two of these trucks have been detained and the
drivers were arrested. In the traffic documents, we’ve seen that
the cargo is sent from one of the Iranian cities and destination is
written – Stepanakert, Armenia. Can you imagine that? And we have
all these documents. It’s not just the word, Stepanakert. First, it
is not just Stepanakert, it is Khankendi. Second, it is not
Armenia. And that created a lot of waves in some part of Iranian
establishment – accusations, threats, etc.

But we think that we did the right thing. So, after a while,
these drivers of course were released. And we thought that and it
stopped. It stopped, frankly speaking. So, we had to use these
kinds of measurements in order to protect our territorial
integrity. Then there have been a lot of media attacks. A lot of
statements from politicians, members of parliament, but actually we
did not pay much attention to that because sometimes happens,
somebody’s unhappy wants to demonstrate his unhappiness. So, it’s
not something tangible. Even when they started to organize military
drills on our border we treated it also as a kind of emotional
gesture. Of course, it was difficult to understand because during
the times of occupations they never had any military drills in that
area. And these two military drills also were accompanied by a very
hostile media campaign statements, insults, accusations, threats,
etc. So, as always, we responded and we had two military drills on
their border. One, by our special forces, those who liberated
Shusha, by the way. And second with our ally, Türkiye, with Turkish
F16 and Turkish special forces and it was not a demonstration. But
it was also a message that we can defend ourselves. So, again,
frankly, speaking as a President, I saw that it can create some
difficulties but nevertheless, we wanted always to have a
diplomatic solution to any kind of disagreements. I had a couple of
meetings with my Iranian colleague at some international events,
not in Baku and not in Tehran, but in Turkmenistan and in
Kazakhstan. And it seemed to me that we clarified everything, and
this misunderstanding is in the past. Unfortunately, when we were
very close to, how to say, making a good step in reengagement – by
the way, the visit of the Deputy Prime Minister of Azerbaijan, the
co-chair of the Joint Economic Commission was scheduled already to
Tehran, because in Iran, there was a change of co-chair. So, we
decided to send our co-chair to meet and because we have a lot of
things on our agenda – then this terror act on our embassy happened
and that ruined almost everything because there is a video footage.
I don’t want to go into much details, everyone can see what kind of
act of terror it was. It was a deliberate, organized act of terror
in order to kill our diplomats and members of their families.
Because in that building, not only we have embassy but also
apartments and family lives there. And we have security officers in
several countries, but only in Iran they were not allowed to carry
weapons. So, our security officers were with empty hands and the
person who broke in he had Kalashnikov, and he started to shoot
immediately, immediately killed and wounded two of them and only
one brave officer with empty hands disarmed him and pushed him
back. But for 40 minutes there was no police, no security officers,
nothing. For 40 minutes, he was trying to get back, he was shooting
with Kalashnikov, he used the hammer. He came with a hammer, and by
the way, he came with Molotov cocktail and he broke the door with a
hammer and entered again the building and again the same wounded
officer, how to say, disarmed him and pushed him back. Then, he
approaches, because we have external camera, internal camera
definitely, approaches the police, puts down Kalashnikov, also he
was using this Molotov. So, how can that be non-organized?. And
moreover, the same day, this person appears on media. He gives an
interview. Can you imagine the person who broke in an embassy of
other country and killed one and wounded two gives interview saying
that he did it because of some other reasons. And two days after in
Iran, he was announced mentally disabled in order to avoid any kind
of legal procedure. How that can happen? Mental disability cannot
be examined and tested in two days. But that was not the end of the
story. Yes, we pulled back completely all our diplomatic stuff, all
our embassy. Now our embassy in Tehran is closed. And that was my
decision, because for me the security and lives of our people are
more important than what they will think in Iran about that. But
that unfortunately was not the end of the story. Then, there was an
act of terror against a member of the parliament of Azerbaijan and
only by chance he was not killed. The God saved his life. Again,
Kalashnikov in just two meters distance, six bullets and he was
seriously wounded.

And after several days that group was detained. So, our law
enforcement structures worked very efficiently. We find and punish
everyone, no matter where they hide. And they already said where
they hide and put their Kalashnikov. It was found, so, the whole
network was disclosed. They testified that they received orders
from Iran. So, this is crossing the red line. You know, this is
serious, this is terror. And we think that this terror is organized
on a governmental level. We totally consider inappropriate any kind
of statements that someone had done it. No. Therefore, we demand
first, extradition of some terrorists from Azerbaijan who found
shelter in Iran. And, we demand transparent investigation of the
terror attack on our embassy. So, you can imagine that now
relations between Azerbaijan and Iran are on the lowest ever level.
It is very difficult to predict whether they will remain on that
level, whether they will go down or they will go up. It’s very
difficult to predict. So, we got some communications from Iranian
officials, some phone calls and other communications, proposals to
normalize relations but definitely, as I said, our demands are
absolutely legitimate and justified. If these demands are met, then
we can talk about normalization. If not, then not. So, again, it
was not our choice. But everybody in Iran, all segments of the
establishment should finally understand that the language of
threats and terror will not work with Azerbaijan. The soon they
understand, the better we can see signs of normalization.

Hafiz Pashayev: Mr. President, if you will
allow, continue.

President Ilham Aliyev: Yes, go ahead.

Hafiz Pashayev: Thank you. Next, Victor
Kipiani, Chairman of Geocase, Georgia.

Victor Kipiani: Thank you very much, Mr.
President Aliyev. Your Excellency, delighted to be in Shusha. Thank
you for your time to say us. You mentioned on few occasions the
Baku-Tbilisi- Ceyhan, the South Caucasus Pipeline. Undisputedly
those projects laid down foundations for a good regional
cooperation, which will be benefit us up to this phase and
hopefully will continue benefiting into decades to come. And this
is really the great legacy of Heydar Aliyev and his counterpart
President Shevardnadze. And this is something you know something,
which we should be very much thankful to. In the context of those
projects as well, at the start of the next phase of increasing
regional interconnectedness. And that is about the Middle Corridor
and the Black Sea cable. You’ve touched on, from time to time in
course of this conversation, but cause expectations but still if
you could still elaborate a little bit more on your outlook in
relation to the projects, your expectations from the partners. When
speaking about the expectations of the partners in that context,
once again, so elaborates on the good partnership of Azerbaijan and
Georgia, which has always been critical for an overall success of
any cross-border project, which we are witnessing, we have
witnessed, and we will be witnessing. So, thank you so much indeed.

President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you very much.
Yes, I fully agree with you, President Heydar Aliyev and President
Eduard Shevardnadze – they laid down the foundation for the strong
partnership and cooperation between our two countries. You know
that they were leading Georgia and Azerbaijan during the Soviet
times. They had a very good friendly relations at that time and as
leaders of independent countries, they actually founded today’s
Georgia- Azerbaijan partnership format. And of course, it started
with the Baku-Supsa Pipeline and famous inauguration in the end of
1990s in Supsa with a presence of President Shevardnadze and
President Aliyev. And then they together laid down the foundation
of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan. And when the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan was
inaugurated in 2006 already, and it was without their participation

So, today, relations developed successfully based on that
foundation. You know that recently, last month, the Georgia Prime
Minister visited Azerbaijan. I visited Georgia six months ago. So,
we always keep in touch and try jointly to even cement even more
relations between our countries and there is a high level of mutual
understanding that only together we can achieve our goals, only
together we can be more powerful in the region and also in
relationship with our partners in Europe. Therefore, Georgia and
Azerbaijan, interconnections and partnership in transportation
energy in many other areas is important factor of energy security
and transportation security. During these two important visits and
also during the visits of other high-ranking officials, mutual
visits, these two important issues have been addressed.

With respect to the Middle Corridor, you probably know that
Azerbaijan is now investing additional funds into expansion of the
Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railroad on the Georgian territory. We’ve
allocated about 140 million US dollars to expand the capacity to 5
million tonnes by railroad, and hopefully within the maximum one
year from now, we will achieve that. At the same time, we are
actively evaluating future cooperation with respect to the
potential of Georgian sea ports – existing and planned. I do not
want to say something before some results are achieved. We are
seriously evaluating. We see a great potential, because we can
foresee huge cargo flow through the Middle Corridor across the
Caspian and then further down to Georgia sea ports and through
Georgia to Türkiye, to Kars further down. So, this is a

With respect to the Black Sea cable, you know that project
feasibility study had been started a while ago, but now, we
established more, how to say, a broader I would say format of four
countries, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Hungary and Romania. And First
Advisory Council of that project took place in February in Baku and
the second in Tbilisi, relatively recently, I think, last month.
So, we looked at this project from a bigger perspective, not just a
Black Sea cable, but a transportation route from Caspian offshore
wind farms to Europe, and to have an integrated project. Unlike the
Southern Gas Corridor, which was a fragmented one consisting of
three independent integrated pipelines, now we want to have
integrated projects from the source and of course, source will be
also in Georgia to the final destinations. And after we started
this already formal cooperation, we already started to receive some
messages from some other European countries which want to join. So,
I think that it could be a really global project.

Already we have oil, gas. Now, why not to have electricity
transmission and cable. The European Union strongly supports that,
and that adds to our optimism because European Commission’s
President Madame Ursula von der Leyen was witnessing the signing
ceremony last December in Bucharest. So, her presence there
demonstrates that European Union will seriously participate. And
this is a project of probably the coming decades, because they have
great potential of renewables in Georgia, Azerbaijan, including
Karabakh, whether it’s hydro or wind. And as I already said, with
several major international companies famous in renewables, we
signed contracts and MOUs to produce 25 gigawatts. Almost 500
megawatts already is being constructed, 230 megawatts inauguration
we are planning within several months. So, more than 700 megawatts
of solar and wind we will have probably maximum like in 2025 and
the rest is in the pipeline. So, we have great future and must
always be together.

Hafiz Pashayev: Next, Victoria Coates, Senior
Research Fellow, the Heritage Foundation, the US.

Victoria Coates: Thank you Mr. President for
the warm welcome to both Baku and Shusha. This has been an
extraordinary opportunity. And if I can get into David’s 907
picture, I’d appreciate that tangled with that issue myself. But
having this chance to both look back at the extraordinary century
that Azerbaijan has experienced under both your father and you, and
looking forward to the next century, which of course will start in
2024. You had brought up the Belt and Road Initiative, which is
obviously, this is sometimes in the paper. There are heightened
tensions between the United States and the People’s Republic of
China, so that may have crossed your inbox. You know, I’m of the
opinion that we can’t be surprised that a country like Azerbaijan
would look both East and West. After all in the United States we
faced the same challenge. We are both an Atlantic and the Pacific
power. And in terms of positioning the United States as a partner
of choice to Azerbaijan going forward, I think it is beholden on us
to be more proactive in that space, rather than as I said, simply
lecturing you on the evils of the PRC. I do have views on that, but
I need to air them here.

As we go forward, so, if you look at something like 907 as an
unnecessary irritant in a relationship, what can the United States
do particularly as we grow into our status as an energy superpower?
Due to be from an Azerbaijan perspective to be the partner of
choice to you, and what would you see as the best engagement from
both the United States government and from our private sector?

President Ilham Aliyev: Actually, I think I’m
absolutely convinced that agenda of bilateral relations between the
United States and Azerbaijan is really very impressive. What we
just were discussing about 907 and some, you know, sensitivity to
the issues related to some wording with respect to territorial
integrity of Azerbaijan did not mean at all that we had some kind
of contradictions that cannot be resolved. On the contrary, with
the United States we have a very broad and very important bilateral
agenda. First of all, on the issues related to energy security. The
United States always supported Azerbaijan in its endeavors to
diversify the energy supply routes and helped us in order to
transform into a country, which today’s considered, as I already
said, by European Commission as a Pan-European gas supplier. I
remember those years very well, because when I worked in SOCAR in
1990s, I know very well how important US support was in
implementation of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. There was a lot
of opposition to that pipeline around. So, it was very strong
Armenian and pro-Armenian campaign. They even established the NGO,
which was called if I’m not mistaken, BTC Campaign. They issued
letters everywhere and by the way, unfortunately, some of these
letters worked. So, World Bank delayed for one year, lending money
for construction of BTC, because of the so-called environmental
concerns. So, they use just this pretext, that it will damage the
environment. Though it’s almost 20 years that BTC in operations,
there was not a single, not a single drop of oil, which can damage
the environment. In other words, the United States helped us to
overcome those difficulties.

If talking about the gas, yes, as always we`re joking with US
partners, none of the drops of Azerbaijani gas will reach US
market, but the United States was instrumental in support of
Azerbaijan’s vision for the Southern Gas Corridor. There have been
a lot of obstacles in implementation of the Southern Gas Corridor
and obstacles from unexpected sources. I think it is not a secret
any longer. But again, the pretext was environment. And this time
it was not turtles like in case of BTC, it was olive trees. So, you
see how creative they are. Actually, it was the same group of
people, who were concerned about turtles with BTC and olive trees
in Italy. Because we made our own investigation and found who was
behind this campaign against the Southern Gas Corridor.
Unfortunately, we had difficult times in communications with
previous governments, governments of Italy and also some local
authorities. We’ve traced all the connections, because we had to
know who is behind this campaign in order to fix the project and we
found. Maybe I don’t want, it’s premature to talk about that, but
the time will come everything will be known. But what’s happened
then, and I witnessed on the television. First of all, I’d like to
say that President of Italy, Mr. Sergio Mattarella was of great
support and he did a great job in order to move the process
forward. Because several olive trees relocation happens on a
regular basis in Italy, in other Mediterranean countries, it
happens. So, in this case, these olive trees, unfortunately, were a
source of big concerns and then they, by the way, were relocated,
and I’m sure they’re safe. But then at the press conference of
then-President of the United States Donald Trump and then-Italian
Prime Minister, Donald Trump openly said you have to support the
project and that was a turning point. And immediately all the
concerns of olive trees relocation were lifted, and we got the
green light. So, this is how United States is working. What I’m
saying now, maybe I’m saying for the first time, but I think that
why should we keep it secret? Why there should be some ambiguity?

We have very profound relations with the United States. And now
in particular, and I got several letters from President Biden, very
positive. I got public communications from President, from
Secretary Blinken with respect to our humanitarian assistance to
Ukraine. Azerbaijan was one of the two last countries along with
Türkiye, who left mission in Afghanistan. We were the last two. And
we stayed in Afghanistan from the very beginning. We’ve been in
Iraq since 2003. Until we got a message from the United States that
we can go home. So, we went. So, we’ve been even in Kosovo before
this process of recognition started. Security, energy, trades, now,
on renewables, we hope that American companies will be part of our
big project of transforming Azerbaijan into a source of renewable
energy. Because proven reserves of wind and solar power in
Azerbaijan is close to 200 gigawatts and this is already with
respect to the Caspian Sea has been confirmed by IFC. 157 gigawatts
of wind power only in the Caspian Sea, which belongs to us.

So, once again, I maybe go too far, but only in order so that no
one thinks that is 907 and some other things – they are peanuts.
Now they seem like peanuts, then it was maybe more sensitive, but
we need always to look at the broader picture. There can be certain
disappointments. Of course, we are disappointed that people like
Senator Menendez, who has Armenian family always attacks
Azerbaijan. And he’s a big lobbyist, not Armenia lobbyists, but
anti-Azerbaijani lobbyist. We regret that person like Adam Schiff
also spreads hatred against Azerbaijan, and now he wants to put the
kind of resolution to recognize Nagorno-Karabakh. That resolution
if adopted will have the same value as resolutions adopted by
French Senate and National Assembly. So, we know these people, we
know that they’re sponsored by Armenia lobby, we know that most
probably the background of this cooperation is not very clean. It
is possible, but having people like Menendez and Schiff and
Sherman, it should not interfere with our relations. There was a
case when American Ambassador Matthew Bryza, who, by the way, was
participant at the last meeting. His appointment was blocked by
pro-Armenian senators, because he was not too pro-Armenian and
because he had a Turkish wife. Can you imagine, the level of
political conscious of these people? If person has a Turkish wife,
he cannot be ambassador in Azerbaijan. And diplomatic career of
Matthew Bryza was ruined. The person, who served for the US State
Department for a couple of decades, at least it was ruined by one
person, this pro-Armenian guy. So, this is something, which we of
course, take into account, but neither Menendez nor Schiff nor any
other people like them will be able to interfere in relations
between US and Azerbaijan. Our relations are very well balanced,
solid and based on mutual respect. And I’m sure that will be the
case for the future.

Hafiz Pashayev: Mehmood Hassan Khan, the Center
of South Asia and International Studies, Pakistan. Please.

Mehmood Hassan Khan: We have a special
connection, passion and respect for you and the people of
Azerbaijan. And we really appreciate your strategic vision in terms
of complete socio-economic transformation of Azerbaijan, and
successful liberation of Karabakh. Since a lot of questions related
to geopolitics have already been asked, so my questions pertain to

His Excellency, would Azerbaijan seek Chinese diplomatic
assistance to resolve the issue of Zangezur corridor? How do you
foresee is the role of Azerbaijan after Chinese facilitated peace
agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran in the Greater Eurasian
region? Because it has changed the regional socio-economic
dimension and geopolitics and most recently, phenomenon, the pace
of the process of dedollarisation strategic expansion of SCO and
momentum of BRICS. Thank you.

President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you. First of
all, I’d like to say that Pakistan and Azerbaijan are true friends
and brotherly countries. We are very grateful to the people and
government, and previous governments of Pakistan for continuous
support to Azerbaijan. With respect to our territorial integrity
and sovereignty – during the times of occupation, during the war –
there were very clear statements from high-ranking Pakistani
leaders – President and Prime Minister – supporting Azerbaijan and
after the war. So, once again, like to ask you to convey our
gratitude to all our brothers. Pakistan is one of the three
countries along with Türkiye and Saudi Arabia, which did not have
any diplomatic relations with Armenia, because of occupation and
we, of course, highly value that.

With respect to the Zangezur corridor and as far as I got it
correctly, how China can facilitate. I think there’s a big
potential in Zangezur corridor and already I mentioned that the
railroad connection between China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, is
started. The Zangezur corridor has a big potential to become one of
the extension of the One Belt and One Road and also can be part of
the North South Corridor. Because entering Nakhchivan, then it has
already a railroad connection with Iranian railroad, which can
deliver goods to the Persian Gulf. So, Zangezur corridor is
important not only for Azerbaijan and Armenia, but I think on a
global scale. Because we expect a growing number of cargoes,
growing volume of cargoes. So, the more roads we have the better.
As far as we’re concerned, next year we will complete the
construction of the railroad, which was dismantled during the times
of occupation and it was sold on the market by Armenians from
Fuzuli to Zangilan, almost to Armenian border and 40 something
kilometers on the territory of Armenia. If built, that will be, of
course, an international project. If Armenia would put artificial
obstacles in front of that project, they will only lose. Because
today we don’t have any problems of transporting goods through
Georgia, Türkiye, through Georgia and Black sea ports, either
through Russia or through Iran, but Armenia doesn’t have this
physical connections.

With respect to the role of China in normalization between Saudi
Arabia and Iran, we highly value the role of China, by the way, I’d
like to say that we have excellent relations with China. I met
President of China Xi Jinping many times. And he called me a good
friend of China during one of our meetings. So, I think only this
is enough to demonstrate the level of our cooperation. And of
course, we support normalization between Saudi Arabia and Iran. We
do not know what is the substance of the agreement, it’s not known
for us, but anyway, it’s very good. Saudi Arabia – for us is
brotherly country – country with which we had excellent relations
and we want them only progress, stability and development. As I
said, they did not establish diplomatic relations with Armenia
because of us. And this means a lot. And of course, Iran as a
neighbor, of course, we want stability and predictability in Iran.
So, I think that the role of China must be only appreciated.

With respect to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, I was
invited for the first time, by the way, to the Summit, which took
place in Uzbekistan, because Azerbaijan is not as you know, a
member is not even an observer, Azerbaijan status is partner for
dialogue. But nevertheless, Azerbaijan was invited and I think that
was very important for us, because with many countries of the
Shanghai Cooperation Organization, we have very good relations.
Thank you.

Hafiz Pasayev: Mr. President, we are already
two hours in session.

President Ilham Aliyev: So, you have the list.
I haven’t seen your list. Everything is in your hands.

Hafiz Pashayev: List is big and even I see some
signs that somebody wants to.

President Ilham Aliyev: I think we can continue
if you are not tired.

Hafiz Pashayev: Ilayda Nijhar, the Overseas
Development Institute, the United Kingdom. Please.

Ilayda Nijhar, Global Risks Analyst, the
Overseas Development Institute (ODI), the United Kingdom: Thank you
Mr. President for dedicating your time today and it’s great to be
here. We’ve touched upon a lot of different themes and the question
on the Middle Corridor. Yesterday, we heard the Minister for
Digital Development and Transport saying that the Middle Corridor
can’t just be an option to be used when things go bad. In your
view, what more can be done in terms of engagement and support on
development of the Middle Corridor from external partners? And if I
may, just another quick one. The Organization of Turkic States
(OTS), it’s already been mentioned, but I’d be keen to hear your
views on what role you see Azerbaijan playing in the development of
the OTS, particularly considering observer status and of course,
including Northern Cyprus as well. Thank you.

President Ilham Aliyev: With respect to the
Middle Corridor, of course, we fully support this project and it
has a great potential. I think that important is for us to
understand that we should not only be a transit route for cargoes,
but we should use this opportunity in order to stimulate business
activity on the route. So, I think for all the countries, which are
involved in the Middle Corridor, it will be important not only to
earn money from transit fees, but to use this opportunity in order
to stimulate local manufacturing. And we have big expectations with
respect to the future activity of the Alat Free Economic Zone,
which has a very solid legal foundation and the rules of the zone,
I think it should be very attractive for investors. And it is in
the process of completion. I mean, the first installation of the
first infrastructure. So, we want to use this opportunity to become
the place for manufacturing, for more business opportunities.
Taking into account the improving business climate in Azerbaijan,
big reforms in the area of taxation and customs administration and,
in general, reforms on transparency of all our financial system, I
think there’s a big potential. Plus of course, geographical
location, because Azerbaijan as I already said, is not only
East-West Corridor country, but North-South. We’re just on the
juncture. And with all the transportation routes open and almost
all of them fully modernized, of course, there is a big potential.
But again, we want to look at these opportunities from broader
picture, not just to be a transitor, it is not enough and there is
a potential.

With respect to the Organization of Turkic States, Azerbaijan
was always very active throughout the whole period of these
organizations, though it had different names before. There were
times when some countries were more active, some countries less.
There were times when the summits were not regular. But Azerbaijan
always was one of the important country. It was not by chance that
the Declaration about the creation of the Council was adopted in
Nakhchivan more than 10 years ago. And also change of the name also
means not only how to say how it will be called, but it means the
substance and we see that there’s a big need in all the member
countries of the organization to consolidate the efforts. Because
if we do it, if we transform this organization even more into
serious international player, I think, everyone will benefit.
Because, look, we have big geography. We have in some countries big
natural resources, including energy resources, have a strong
military capability in some of the countries and if we unite all
these efforts, of course, we will see a serious player on a global
scale. It can be and I think it should be one of the centers of
global powers. Because again, population geography, transportation
routes, Eurasian, how to say, dimension, energy resources. Türkiye
is a second NATO member army. Azerbaijan’s army also demonstrated
that it is very capable. So, if we unite all these efforts, we will
only benefit and I think the more we get together, more we
interact, the more understanding is in our countries that this is a
way how it should be. And moreover, you know, you have to live in
your family. You have to live in your country. That’s my, how to
say, approach. Of course, I respect people who live in some other
countries. It’s now normal in a global world. But I think that for
everyone, that’s my personal view, is better to live in your
country and in your family. So, this is our family and we must be
in our families. This is natural space for all of us. And with
respect to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, you know, that
they became observers. And we supported that from the very
beginning until the very end. We only can congratulate our
brothers. And by the way, we got certain messages from, you can
imagine, from where about that. So, our answer was that first, they
are our brothers. And second, they are observers already in Islamic
Cooperation Organization, which has many more countries. So, I
think that potential is here and I witness more common
understanding about our future coordinated performance on
international arena.

Hafiz Pashayev: Next, Michael Ritchie.

Michael Ritchie, Editor, Energy Intelligence,
the United Kingdom: Thank you, Mr. President. You’ve already
addressed some of the issues I was interested in about the Southern
Gas Corridor. Energy is my field. Talking about the resources
available and the commerciality of them. So, if I can be just a bit
more specific and ask how much extra gas do you think Azerbaijan
can supply to the European Union by 2027. That’s called for in a
Memorandum of Understanding signed last summer with the European
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. And also, do you see any
flexibility in that time table? I mean it’s quite tight. And
finally, given that the EU aims gradually to phase out fossil
fuels, what sort of long term commitments will you require from the
EU side?

President Ilham Aliyev: Yeah, you touched on
very important issues long term commitment. This is important,
because we’ve got a lot of requests from many countries. After the
Russian-Ukrainian war started, from more than 10 countries we got
requests either to increase the supply or to find the opportunity
to start the supply. And of course, this needs additional
investments and a lot of, how to say, technical things to be
resolved. And of course, we must know what will be the duration of
that deficit and what will be the approach to fossil fuels in the
future. Because you know, that now European Investment Bank does
not finance any longer projects of fossil fuel. I don’t want to
comment about that. But this is something we have to take into
account. So, we don’t want to find ourselves in this situation
where we invest additional billions of dollars, which we did not
plan, by the way, and then, all of a sudden, someone will tell us
thank you, goodbye.

We don’t need it any longer, we have hydrogen or whatever.
Therefore, one of the element of our energy dialogue with the
European Commission is exactly what you mentioned very correctly
that we need to have predictability. We are ready to help. We are
already helping. We are investing additional financing. We’re doing
a lot of other, how to say, diplomatic steps, in order to supply as
much as we can to European countries. Of course, we expect
understanding of our position in European Commission. So that we
can plan the future. In general with European Union we have energy
dialogue, which covers many areas, not only gas, but also
renewables and green hydrogen. And so, the portfolio is really very
impressive. And with respect to concrete figures, we signed a MOU
to double our supply by 2027. And that will be around 20 bcm. I
think this is absolutely realistic. Otherwise we wouldn’t have
signed it, if we thought this is not realistic. If no force majeure
takes place. It is absolutely realistic. 2021 our supply to EU
market was something more than 8 bcm. This year it will be 12. So,
in two years from 8 to 12. And I think going by this big steps by
2027, it can be 20.

You may ask about the sources. I can tell you. First, we expect
more gas from Shah Deniz, we expect maybe in four years’ time,
maybe less from new phase of Shah Deniz additional gas. We expect
already several years, but I hope this year we will get first gas
from Absheron, which at the first phase of Absheron will produce
1.5 bcm. And then we will have to decide what will be the second
phase and what will be the market, whether it will be the domestic
market or international market. So, it’s just I don’t want to
bother you with too many details. Of course, so-called deep gas
from ACG has great potential. And BP and SOCAR are already actively
working on that. It’s a huge gas condensate field. When I said 300
billion cubic meters of gas, this is minimum. Of course, big
potential in Umid and Babek, which partly is developed by SOCAR
itself, but we’re ready to work with international companies also.
And Karabakh oil field, which also has potential. So, this is a
source of gas. Another source is efficiency in management.
Reduction of losses, modernization of our gas distribution network,
and renewables. Because today we use about 5 bcm minimum to produce
electricity. So, if we have enough renewables, this 5 bcm will be
available for market.

So, this is additional. But we come here to the problem, which
we just raised in the beginning. We need to have capacity in
transportation. TAP must be expanded. As I said we have 20%, others
companies have also 20% almost, except one. So, it must be common
decision to expand TAP. If TAP is not expanded, then there’ll be no
gas in TAP. So, TAP now is at the maximum capacity already. To
expand TANAP is easier, because in TANAP it is Azerbaijan, Türkiye
and BP. So, it is easier to do. But in TAP it is more difficult. We
need to have access to the Trans-Balkan pipeline and to be able to
supply countries which are waiting for our gas. And if
interconnectors in Europe are built on time, then by the end of
this year, we can start supply to Hungary and to Serbia.

Romania already started this year. So, Greece, Italy, Bulgaria
already started. In Albania, we are in the stage of negotiations of
investment in gas distribution network. So, Albania is a transitor,
but it doesn’t have gas distribution network. So, we are planning
to invest substantial amount of money to create this distribution
network. I was in Sofia just several days ago to attend the
inauguration of the Solidarity Ring. So, Slovakia is joining. So,
if now we export to six countries, within one year if everything
goes according to the schedule, without force majeure, it can be
10. And that’s why Commissioner Simson says Azerbaijan will be the
Pan-European supplier and this is not the end. I think, we will
find if there is a market and if there are enough interconnectors,
the geography can expand because we still have requests from the
countries, which I did not mention, in Balkans and also in other
parts of Europe, which can be also recipients of Azerbaijani gas.
So, the real picture is very broad, but all these projects must be
in coordination. If we don’t have on time implementation of green
energy project, so that will also, how to say, delay all the

Farhad Azima, Chairman, ALG Transportation, the
US: Thank you, Mr. President. It is very special for me to be here,
on this occasion, in this area. The dream of late President was
manifested in reality by you, Mr. President. I’m honored to be
here. I have a simple question. Natural gas from Uzbekistan,
Turkmenistan, and possibly Kazakhstan could be very easily
transferred here via underwater Caspian Sea to Baku and from Baku
via Türkiye to go to Europe. What are the obstacles that are not
being implemented?

President Ilham Aliyev: Well, it’s difficult
for me to say, because you know the projects of gas,
infrastructure, construction are usually the projects, which are
initiated and financed by those countries, which are the owners of
these resources, as it was in our case. We are the owners of
resources. We initiated construction of the Southern Gas Corridor
and built together with our partners – with the help of
international financial institutions – the 3,500 km-long pipeline
from Baku to Italy, partly underwater. Major investments, billions
of dollars and we did not yet recover the costs. So, it’s a long
term investment, but it was a strategic decision. And without that,
none of what we’re talking about would have been possible. And by
the way, just for historical memory, I want to say that Azerbaijan
was an initiator of the Southern Gas Corridor. Before that, there
were a lot of speculations, discussions about different projects. I
personally participated many times, maybe almost 10 times, in
different conferences, international events on NABUCCO. So, if you
remember, maybe it’s like 907 also everybody forgot about it. But
it didn’t happen. Why? Because the question was who is going to pay
for that? And when this question was raised everybody backed down.
So, we initiated the Southern Gas Corridor and did it on time, and
now we enjoy the benefits.

With respect to the gas from Central Asia, this decision must be
made by the owners of these resources. Where the owners are
planning to export, in which direction, whether it will be East or
West? If they choose West, or if they choose both, of course, we in
Azerbaijan will do everything in order to facilitate. We can
provide the technical assistance, we can provide our pipe link
barges. We only have it in the Caspian Sea. We can provide access
to the Sangachal terminal, we can provide access to our pipeline
system, but the decision must be made by them. If made, financial
package must be also organized by them. In other words, the
consortium, corporate capital and then borrowed money, who will be
financing? So, this is one important part. So, this is a trigger.
If this trigger is not pushed, it will not work. But even if the
trigger is pushed, the question is then, if everything what I said
is done, then what happens after the gas comes to the shore of
Azerbaijan? How it’s going to be exported? What will be the
volumes? What will be the commercial terms between the owners and
the consumers? So, we can only be a transitor and we will be
definitely a very fair transitor. By the way, the cash flow we may
have as a transitor is not significant for Azerbaijan taking into
account the cash flow we have from oil and gas. So, it’s not a
matter of significant economic importance. It’s a matter of
contribution to energy security, and a matter of facilitation to
our friends in the East and in the West. So, in other words, we
cannot initiate this project, and we cannot finance it. That’s why,
why it didn’t happen, the question is not to me, but maybe your
neighbor can answer.

Sodyq Safoev, First Deputy Chairman of the
Senate of Oliy Majlis of Uzbekistan, Rector of the University of
World Economy and Diplomacy: Yesterday, when I’ve been asked,
whether I am going to ask you a question, I said, I’m going to
listen. And I thank you very much for this meeting. And we
appreciate highly your vision, your inspiration, and your in-depth
analysis. I’m sure that it was educational for all of us to listen
to your assessments, your predictions and analysis. Few days ago in
Tashkent, we’ve had a big conference dedicated to the centennial of
the great leader, statesman Heydar Aliyev. We appreciate that the
members of the Milli Majlis of Azerbaijan attended the referendum
as observers. The main conclusion of our Congress, which was by the
way, only beginning of series of events to take place until the
10th of May in Uzbekistan, dedicated to the heritage of Heydar
Aliyev, was that it was a man of caliber and magnitude and he
possessed leadership what we need all now. Being here in Shusha,
we’ve seen his dreams had come true. And we’ve seen his legacy in
splendid, magnificent Baku, in the minds and spirit of military
force of Azerbaijan, in the revival of Shusha. Thank you very much
for allowing us to see it.

President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you. You probably
realize that we don’t need to have an interpreter. Our language are
so close, our people are so close, that we not only understand each
other, but we feel the pulse of each other. I’m very grateful to
what you said, very grateful to all our brothers in Uzbekistan for
the respect to the memory of Heydar Aliyev. During my official
visit to Tashkent, together with my brother President Mirziyoyev,
we opened the monument in honor of Heydar Aliyev in the park, which
was named after him. It was a festival of our brotherhood and
friendship. We’re very grateful for that.

And just using this opportunity, I’d like to congratulate the
people of Uzbekistan with the important political event –
successful referendum, which will create better opportunities for
development of political system, economic development, social
development. And you know that President Mirziyoyev and myself – we
are good friends. And we told our ministers that we will personally
monitor the implementation of all our instructions, and it already
happened. So, don’t want just to take much of the time, but really
the substance and the spirit of cooperation is unique. As it should
be between two brotherly peoples who speak more or less the same
language and who share the same values. So, thank you and welcome
to Karabakh.

Hafiz Pashayev: Mr. President, you are very
generous with your time. But I want to stop, probably, questions.
And I want to mention one person, who is here with us. Yesterday,
he presented a short movie about his vision and his feelings about
Karabakh, about his meetings with Heydar Aliyev. And this is Thomas
Goltz, who is with us. For his health reasons, of course, he could
not make even more active involvement of all this contribution to
our conference, but what he did was very valuable and we are very
thankful to him that he came to Shusha, to Karabakh. Because in my
memory not any other journalist or even some other Americans did so
much to make sure that Karabakh will be known to American public in
a way which, which is true, which presents realities. So, we’re
very thankful. Yesterday, he made this presentation of movie and as
you know, he was the first person, who visited Nakhchivan during
Heydar Aliyev`s being there. In that movie he was also on the
backside of the pictures. So, Thomas, thank you very much for
coming. And I think he would be delighted to have picture with

President Ilham Aliyev: Yes, yes. With
pleasure. I know, Mr. Goltz, we’ve met, I think, a couple of times
in some events. And of course, I heard a lot, and I know how
committed he was to restoration of justice. I think one of the
elements of the restoration of justice is him being today in
Shusha. And I think this is how justice prevails. So, thank you
very much for all what you have done and thank you for being with
us today.

Thank you very much. So, with respect to the pictures, I think
we can have a family picture and then individual pictures and
outside. Yes, yes. Outside we need to find a good place.

x x x

Then, a family photo was taken.

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