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Foreign Minister Kotzias’ statements at his joint press conference with the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, Elmar Mammadyarov (Baku, 2 February 2016)
N. KOTZIAS: It is a great pleasure to be in Azerbaijan for the first time in my life, in beautiful Baku. And it is a great pleasure to see my good friend, the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan once again.
And I would also like to express my great pleasure at being in Baku. I thank you very much for the invitation and for your hospitality.
Greece has traditional, good relations with the geographical space of the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea. And I think it is very important that we have developed this very deep relationship in recent years.
It is important that we have this communication channel, and I am very pleased to have seen here today, on my first visit to Baku, President Aliyev. And we had a long discussion with him about the European perspective of Azerbaijan and the cooperation between the two countries. And I think that the plan was for this meeting to be for a half hour, but the discussion was longer that one and a half hours. It was a great honor for me.
And we are willing to contribute in any way, in all the forms we can, to promote the relations between the European Union and Azerbaijan. We are a good advocate for Azerbaijan in the European Union. We are truly friends. We are not neighbours, but we are friends. Sometimes the friends who are a little bit far away are the best friends for such kinds of cooperation.
As we know, Greece is in very difficult times. We are inside a triangle of destabilization, between Ukraine, Syria and Libya – three wars are underway there. In Ukraine, as I discussed with my colleague the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, we are for the implementation of the Minsk agreements.
In the Middle East we are supporting the discussion that will take place tomorrow in London, to support Jordan and Lebanon. We are supporting all the discussions to find a way to end the Syrian war. And, as you know, the Syrian war created one of the biggest problems in this century for Europe: the refugee problem. More than one million came through the Greek islands to Europe.
So we have all the reasons to support diplomatic efforts towards ending the civil war in Syria.
And in this space, in this framework, we welcome the initiation of the implementation of the agreement on the Iranian nuclear programme.
And we discussed with my colleagues about Cyprus and Balkan issues. I presented our positions. And I think what is very important in our relationship is that both countries support the implementation of international law. There is no other way to find solutions to the big problems of the 21st century. Cooperation, friendly discussion, negotiation based on international law, solutions based on this law.
I express my willingness to see you in Athens. I hope that we can do it this year. And I express my support for the Minsk Group’s efforts to find a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. The President and the Minister of Foreign Affairs gave me information for a better understanding of the position of our friends in Azerbaijan on this issue.
Our countries are closely linked, not only on the political level, but in the energy sector, too. We are finishing one of the biggest projects we are doing together, the TAP, the Trans Adriatic Pipeline, bringing gas from Azerbaijan to Greece and to western Europe, Italy and so on. And we have completed the most important steps in this project, so we hope that in two years we can start it – that Azerbaijan’s gas can make Europe warmer than it is today. And we have discussed all the details and all the parts of this plan.
We also focused on cooperation in the economic and trade sectors. We have many possibilities, and we have to do big jobs. And I was very pleased that we discussed cultural and educational cooperation.
As I told the Minister, Greece is the nearest friend of all the European countries to Azerbaijan. We ‘smell’ what happens in this regions, and we have more understanding than any other country of the feelings, the way that the people of Azerbaijan think.
So, once again, Elmar, many thanks for your hospitality, for your invitation. And we are waiting for you in warm Athens. I think today we had 22 degrees Celsius, a very beautiful day. I was wondering, Why am I leaving this city? But being here I know: Because of our friendship.
Thank you very much.
JOURNALIST: [Question on energy issues.]
N. KOTZIAS: I have to say that Greece is supporting any peaceful solution to all of the conflicts all over the world, based on international law. Those are the two principle things.
About energy, we have a very specific political situation. We are situated in a very important corner for energy. We are now getting energy from the Eastern Mediterranean space. As you know, Israel, Egypt and Cyprus have found large energy deposits, and for us it is very important to make a connection between these possibilities coming from the Eastern Mediterranean and the possibility of getting gas from Azerbaijan, through the TAP gas line. And we are creating, together with Bulgaria and Romania, another gas line, which will also use Azerbaijan’s gas.
And we have made all the preparations in Greece. We have finished all our duties. And I hope and I think that in two years we will get gas from Azerbaijan, for Greece, but for other European countries too.