Official visit to Azerbaijan
Belarus and Azerbaijan confirm mutual interest in the vigorous development of cooperation in the entire spectrum of bilateral relations. This was the result of the talks between Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko and Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev in Baku on 28 November.
“You can rely on us as your closest friend. If we can be useful to you in any way, we will always come to help. You know well our capabilities. You are a great friend of Belarus,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
The talks focused on the current state and prospects of the Belarusian-Azerbaijani relations, including trade and economic cooperation, concrete cooperation projects in agriculture, light and heavy industry, the enhancement of cultural and humanitarian ties.
In particular, the sides are mulling over the possibility to launch joint manufacturing of carpets and cotton products. “In my opinion, Azerbaijan did the right thing when it decided to develop its cotton growing industry,” the President noted. “Output figures will rise so much that we can expect 25,000-30,000 tonnes or even 40,000 tonnes of cotton fiber.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko suggested manufacturing cooperation with the Belarusian cotton products factory in Baranovichi. “An opportunity to work together is available. We wouldn’t mind if Azerbaijan becomes a shareholder of the company,” the President said.
The sides also discussed cooperation in the oil sector. “If you have an interest in the market of Europe, and not only Europe, let us sit down and talk. We are ready for long-term cooperation with Azerbaijan if we reach such an agreement,” the Belarusian head of state said.
The President thanked the Azerbaijani head of state for the recent shipment of oil to Belarus. Around 85,000 tonnes of oil was delivered to Mozyr Oil Refinery. “That was not the first time that you supported us, but that was a one-time help. I understand that any oil producer should have a strategy. We are ready to go as far as Azerbaijan is ready to go,” the Belarusian leader stressed.
Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that the partnership in the oil sector is not the main focus in the relations and talks between Belarus and Azerbaijan. “Still, this is an important avenue of our cooperation. We have two modern high-capacity oil refineries. Their modernization has almost been completed. We are close to a 90% oil refining rate. And we are ready to consider a processing agreement,” the head of state added.
The participants of the talks agreed that the bilateral trade can be increased with a short period of time if the work is organized well. “We make no secret of the fact that our trade and economic cooperation has declined recently against the backdrop of the global crisis. Today we have agreed that we can reach $700 million in bilateral trade next year. This is almost twice as much as we had in our best year,” the head of state said.
The talks of the presidents of Belarus and Azerbaijan also focused on the foreign policy cooperation and interaction in the international arena. The sides agreed to bolster cooperation in the areas of mutual interest, support each other in the United Nations and related institutions, the OSCE and other international organizations of the universal and regional scale.
It was emphasized that Belarus and Azerbaijan will always do their best to support each other in the international arena and protect each other from aggression.
After the talks the sides signed a package of documents on the development of cooperation. These include agreements in sport, education, agribusiness, an action plan to implement the social and economic development program till 2025, an agreement to establish interregional links between Grodno and Gabala District, and other documents.
The leaders of the two countries also passed a joint statement to confirm the interest in the further development of interstate cooperation in the entire spectrum of bilateral relations and the improvement of the wellbeing of peoples of Belarus and Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev awarded the Order of Heydar Aliyev, the highest award of Azerbaijan, to Aleksandr Lukashenko.