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Azerbaijan, Croatian leaders pleased with cooperation


March 13, 2012

The Azerbaijani and Croatian presidents have welcomed the increasing ties between their two countries.

On 12 March, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his spouse Mehriban Aliyeva held an official reception in honour of the president of the Republic of Croatia, Ivo Josipovic, and his wife, Tatiana Josipovic.

Speaking at the ceremony, President Ilham Aliyev expressed confidence that the meetings, negotiations, signed documents and business forum held during President Josipovic's visit would play an important role in deepening bilateral relations, according to the official website of the Azerbaijani president.

The head of state stressed the importance of the opening of embassies in the two countries in bringing about the recent boost in relations between the two countries.

Looking to promising areas for economic cooperation, President Aliyev mentioned energy and transport in particular.

"Today, there are broad prospects for the development of our cooperation in energy, transport, energy resources, tourism, environment, agriculture, transport, communications, roads and infrastructure, shipbuilding, the chemical industry and elsewhere. We also attach particular importance to the promotion of mutual investment and trade growth."

Croatia is the final destination of one of three potential export routes for gas produced in the second stage of development of Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz field. The consortium developing Shah Deniz is expected to choose its export route in the coming weeks. The presidents did not mention this potential area of cooperation in their speeches at the dinner, however.

Shipbuilding is a sector in which the two countries already collaborate with a Croatian shipyard supplying ferries to Azerbaijan's state-owned shipping company.

"We already have successful experience of cooperation between Azerbaijan and Croatia in the field of shipbuilding," Ilham Aliyev said.

"Many ferries and vessels built in the Uljanik shipyard in the Croatian city of Pula remain in use by the Azerbaijan State Caspian Shipping Company. These ships were delivered to Baku 27 years ago on the instructions of national leader Heydar Aliyev. This tradition continues today. In May 2011 a contract was signed between the Azerbaijan State Caspian Shipping Company and the Uljanik shipyard on the building of new ferries."

The two countries also cooperate on foreign policy, President Aliyev said.

"Our countries also cooperate closely in international and regional organizations. In Azerbaijan's foreign policy, relations with the European Union and Euro-Atlantic structures have an important place. Our cooperation in the UN, OSCE, NATO, European Union and Council of Europe is encouraging.

"From this point of view, our relations with Croatia, which is to become a new member of the European Union, are important both in the bilateral and regional framework. Azerbaijan has already become a major economic centre in the region, is a reliable partner in the energy sector and is willing to contribute to the energy security of Europe. We are interested in supplying our energy resources to world markets in all directions and are working on various projects."

The president said that Azerbaijan was a supporter of security in the region and worldwide and worked actively in international institutions, in particular as a member of the UN Security Council, to promote security.

At the same time, the Azerbaijani president described the aggressive policy of Armenia as a threat to peace and stability in the region.

"As a result of the military aggression of Armenia, 20 percent of Azerbaijani territory, our historical lands - the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts - have been occupied, a policy of ethnic cleansing was conducted in these lands, more than one million people were displaced or made into refugees. There are four resolutions on the conflict by the UN Security Council, relevant decisions of the OSCE, the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, NATO and other international organizations."

Ilham Aliyev said that Azerbaijan was committed to resolving the conflict within the framework of international law and territorial integrity.

Croatian President Ivo Josipovic thanked the Azerbaijani president and his wife for their warm welcome and hospitality.

The Croatian head of state said that the meeting had been excellent in developing friendship between the two countries, cooperation and mutual opportunities in the social, political and especially economic fields.

Referring to the integration of Croatia into Euro-Atlantic structures, Ivo Josipovic said that Azerbaijan had also made strides in that area.

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