Aleksandr Lukashenko makes official visit to Azerbaijan

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Belarus and Azerbaijan have determined new promising areas of cooperation and confirmed eagerness to further enhance traditionally friendly relations between the two countries. The statement was made at the official negotiations between President of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko and President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev held on 21 November.

The presidents of Belarus and Azerbaijan held one-on-one and extended-participation talks at the Presidential Palace. The two leaders and members of the delegations discussed in detail the entire spectrum of the bilateral cooperation, including industrial cooperation, investments and the sale of jointly manufactured products on the markets of third countries.

Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed out the good dynamics in the development of Belarus-Azerbaijan trade and economic cooperation. The increase in trade turnover confirms it. From 2006 through 2012 the trade turnover increased by six times. Yet the Belarusian head of state underlined that the present volume of trade is below the potential of the two countries. “We can do better than that. We can increase the volume by setting up joint ventures here instead of assembly enterprises while raising localization up to 40-60%,” the Belarusian President said.

“Certainly what we can make in Azerbaijan exceeds the market capacity. It is very important for us to trade together in third countries, pushing merchandise to international markets and selling products made by joint ventures, getting the relevant profits,” the Belarusian head of state said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko suggested setting up a working group on manufacturing cooperation within the framework of the relevant intergovernmental commission.

"During this visit we have found new areas of cooperation. We received support from the President of Azerbaijan in terms of heavier investment into the projects that can be of interest to both the state of Azerbaijan and businessmen in Belarus. We are ready for this and are waiting for the offers from you,” the Belarusian President said.

According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, oil and chemistry industry, agriculture, chemical industry, pharmaceuticals can be promising areas for the Azerbaijani investments.

According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, Belarus could help Azerbaijan with the development of the pharmaceutical industry. "We once had to deal with this problem. It is still on the agenda, namely to become self-sufficient in medicines. Ilham Aliyev confirmed that he is prepared to support the construction of pharmaceutical plants here. We are ready to offer our technology starting from packaging to the production of medicinal preparations, which we can sell in third countries using the authority and influence of the President of Azerbaijan,” the Belarusian leader said.

Belarus and Azerbaijan have also agreed to further develop the cooperation in manufacturing industry.

The Belarus President also underlined that there are no problems between Belarus and Azerbaijan in politics or diplomacy. “We very tightly cooperate in international organizations. You have always supported us. We have always supported you and will continue doing so,” the Belarusian leader said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that the development of cooperation in many sectors would not have been possible if the parties did not devote much attention to education. In this regard, the Belarusian head of state noted that about 150 Azerbaijani students attend Belarusian universities today. "Each year these new professionals join the national economy of Azerbaijan and bring significant results. Without this, there can be no normal cooperation,” Belarusian the head of state remarked.

The Belarusian President also noted that the countries successfully cooperate in the cultural and humanitarian areas. In few days Minsk will host the premiere of Gara Garayev’s Seven Beauties ballet.

The Belarusian head of state also thanked the Azerbaijani side for the warm welcome and sincerity granted to all the Belarusians, not only dignitaries and delegations from Belarus. “I think you cannot complain about the treatment of your nationals in our country,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.

Ilham Aliyev, for his part, stressed that Azerbaijan treasures relations with Belarus and expects them to advance. “Over the last few years Belarus and Azerbaijan have strengthened these relations. The relations have reached a very high level in economy, industrial manufacturing, power engineering, and humanitarian sphere,” the Azerbaijan President said. “These years of vigorous interaction have made us as close as to make the region and the rest of the world see Belarus and Azerbaijan as very close and friendly nations,” he added.

“Our relations rely on sincerity, mutual respect and support. We have erected a solid building of our relations on this foundation,” Ilham Aliyev stressed.

In his words, ties between enterprises are actively promoted now, investment projects get implemented, and the best practices are shared. Azerbaijan-Belarus relations are getting filled with serious content and now span many areas. “Today we have discussed important matters of cooperation in education, humanitarian cooperation, science, high technologies, agriculture, manufacturing, military and technical cooperation, power engineering. The enumeration of these areas speaks for itself. Each area has achieved good results. There are concrete projects and programs,” Ilham Aliyev said.

At the negotiations the sides agreed to bolster efforts to advance cooperation in the areas where good progress has been made and to venture into new areas. “Among the new topics of our bilateral relations we have determined the possibility of investments, the participation of Azerbaijani enterprises in privatization in Belarus as well as the joint advancement to third-country markets with jointly manufactured products. We will do our best to make these areas part of our extensive bilateral agenda,” Ilham Aliyev said.

The Azerbaijan President stated that in the last few years the bilateral relations had gone a long way to reach a very high level. The two countries vigorously cooperate in trade and economic affairs and support each other in the international arena.

Ilham Aliyev underlined that all the decisions that get made are implemented in a timely and quality manner. “Our relations stem from great mutual trust. Our deeds follow our words. Sometimes we don’t even have to sign papers to formalize our agreements. Although important documents have been signed today. They will help bring our countries and nations closer,” the Azerbaijan President said.

The heads of state adopted a joint declaration to confirm their commitment to expanding and strengthening long-standing friendly ties between Azerbaijan and Belarus based on trust and mutual support.

The heads of state expressed satisfaction with Belarus-Azerbaijan cooperation in the bilateral and multilateral formats. They noted that since the diplomatic relations were established between the two countries some 20 years ago, the bilateral cooperation has made tremendous progress.

The parties said they would like to promote a political dialogue on various levels, boost cooperation in economy, trade, defense sector, tourism, science, education, culture, healthcare, environmental protection and other fields.

The presidents noted that Belarus and Azerbaijan have similar positions on many topical issues of the international agenda. They emphasized the importance of closer collaboration on the international arena, including within the framework of the UN, OSCE, Non-Aligned Movement, and Eastern Partnership. They urged a prompt settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in line with the principles and rules of the international law.

The joint declaration praised Azerbaijan’s work as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 2012-2013. The parties are in favor of a stronger role of the United Nations in maintaining international security and promoting sustainable development.

The document also highlights trade and economic cooperation. It points to the importance of joint economic projects that can help cement relations between Belarus and Azerbaijan. The parties deem it necessary to keep expanding manufacturing cooperation with a focus on innovations. The presidents pledged to encourage business activities by means of economic, financial and legal incentives.

Belarus and Azerbaijan formalized their intention to increase cooperation in trade and engineering, culture, education, information technologies, and to establish contacts between creative and other unions and foundations.

Members of the Belarusian delegation also held productive meetings with their Azerbaijan colleagues. Belarus and Azerbaijan have signed agreements which will lay the foundation for new results of bilateral cooperation.

During the official visit of Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko to Azerbaijan a number of documents on advancing cooperation between Belarus and Azerbaijan in various areas were signed.

The sides signed a protocol on amendments and addenda to the Belarus-Azerbaijan agreement on cooperation and mutual assistance in observing tax legislation of 5 November 2004.

The sides also signed a protocol on amending the Intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in standardization, metrology and certification.

An intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in pension benefits was signed.

The Financial Monitoring Department of the State Control Committee of Belarus and the Financial Monitoring Service under the Central Bank of Azerbaijan signed an agreement on cooperation in counteracting the legalization of monetary means and other assets acquired by criminal means and in counteracting the financing of terrorism.

Some of the signed documents will regulate the advancement of cooperation in education. The number includes an agreement on cooperation between the Belarusian State University and the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. The Belarusian Hi-Tech Park signed an agreement on cooperation with the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Besides, the education ministries of Belarus and Azerbaijan signed a protocol on setting up new educational institutions in Azerbaijan.

The legal base of interregional cooperation was developed. The relevant agreements were signed by the cities of Gomel and Ganja and by the Oshmyany District Executive Committee of Grodno Oblast and the executive authorities of Samaxi District.

Apart from that, a plan for consultations between the foreign ministries of Belarus and Azerbaijan was signed.

Aleksandr Lukashenko invited Ilham Aliyev to pay a return visit to Belarus.

“I would like to reiterate that there are no closed topics in our cooperation,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed. “We do not hide it from anyone that we cooperate in many areas starting from food production to the areas that are of interest to the defense ministries. We do not hide it from anyone and we will not,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.

“We have very trusting relationship with the President of Azerbaijan, and I am sure that such are relations between our states. We have created the basis of this relationship. Today there is only one task: to move forward. We are ready for it. As I see also our colleagues from Azerbaijan also ready for it as well,” the Belarusian leader concluded.