Joint press conference
with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev
Welcome back to the NATO Headquarters.
It is good to see you at again.
This is actually your second time in the new building.
But last time we had a bilateral meeting it was at the old building.
We have just had a very constructive discussion.
And you will now participate in a meeting of the North Atlantic Council with all 30 Allies.
This shows the importance of dialogue and mutual understanding in NATO’s partnership with Azerbaijan.
Our cooperation has been strong over many years.
Today it covers many areas, from capability development to energy security.
NATO Allies have also assisted you with the destruction of redundant mines and ammunition from the former Soviet Army.
We discussed today what more could do together.
Azerbaijan made important contributions to our former mission in Afghanistan.
And Azeri forces played an important role providing security at Kabul Airport during this summer’s evacuation.
NATO Allies managed to airlift more than 120,000 people to safety in a matter of days.
So thank you for all your efforts and support.
Security and stability in the South Caucasus is important for all of us.
To ensure a peaceful future for all people, we support the normalization of relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia,
Which are both valued partners to NATO.
President Aliyev, let me thank you once again for coming to NATO Headquarters.
I look forward to continuing our work to further deepen the cooperation between NATO and Azerbaijan.
So please. Welcome once again.
Rikard Jozwiak (Radio Free Europe):
Rikard Jozwiak from Radio Free Europe. I have a question for both of you, starting with Mr. Aliyev.
Mr. Aliyev, you mentioned relations with Armenia, and one of the issues is the Zangezur corridor.
Would you accept Armenians custom checks in that corridor? Or what is the idea for Azarbaijan for this one? And also, can I also ask, you will meet with Mr. Pashinyan and Mr. Michel later today, have dinner with them. You're bound to sign some sort of declaration on connectivity. What does that mean exactly? Can you mention what sort of connectivity issues you can have with Armenia?
And for Mr. Stoltenberg. A Russian official today talked about the moratorium on missiles, intermediate missiles. Do you see this.. is this some sort of olive branch or do you think it would be better to perhaps go back to the INF Treaty that Russia walked away from? Thank you.
Ilham Aliyev (President of Azerbaijan):
On the Zangezur corridor I'd like to say is that the proposal of opening of this part of communication in the region is reflected in trilateral declaration signed on November 10 last year by President of Russia, Prime Minister of Armenia and myself. So it's a kind of obligation for Armenia to provide all the necessary facilities, though it was not easy during this more than one year to move forward. At this stage, we achieved an agreement on building a railroad connection from Azerbaijan through Armenia to Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic and also agreement on construction of the highway. But the exact route of the highway has not yet been identified. It's a matter of future discussions, and we'll definitely discuss it this evening on a trilateral meeting hosted by Mr. Charles Michel. With respect to the legal regime of Zangezur corridor, it should be exactly the same as Lachin corridor. Because in trilateral statement, it clearly says that Azerbaijan provides security and unimpeded access for connection between Karabakh and Armenia. And Armenia should provide the same unimpeded access and security for connections between Azerbaijan and Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. So today, there are no customs on Lachin corridor. Therefore there should be no customs on Zangezur corridor. If Armenia would insist of using the custom facilities to control the cargoes and people, then we will insist on the same on Lachin corridor. This is logical. The decision is need to be made by Armenia. We're ready for both options. Either no customs on both, or both customs on the two.
And with respect to connectivity. It's really a big opportunity for the region to integrate the regional transportation links between… because the Zangezur corridor is not only for us to get access to Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, but also for Armenia to get the railroad connection with Iran through Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. It is for Armenia to get a railroad connection with Russia through the territory of Azerbaijan. Today, they don't have this railroad connection. So it really will create a special positive atmosphere in the region and a win-win situation for everyone. Therefore, I think that the evaluation of these opportunities is very important, the proper evaluation is important in order to plan our peaceful future.
But again, we're ready. We already made several public statements that we want to turn the page of hostility and work on peace agreement. Today's meeting with Mr. Pashinyan and with Mr. Michel will clarify a lot.
Jens Stoltenberg (NATO Secretary General):
On the missiles. For many years, we had the ban on all intermediate range weapons. Banning, also, of course, intermediate range missiles in Europe. That was the INF Treaty agreed back in 1987.
But we have now seen the demise of this treaty, because Russia violated the treaty by deploying new intermediate range nuclear capable missiles in Europe. They have done that for many years. And that led to the demise of the treaty banning all intermediate range weapons.
So the proposal from Russia on a moratorium is not credible, because we had a ban, and they violated that ban. So unless Russia in a verifiable way destroys all its SSC-8 missiles, which are those missiles that violated the INF Treaty. It is not credible when they now propose a ban on something they actually have already started to deploy.
And NATO has no intention of mirror what Russia does. So we have no intention of deploying nuclear capable missiles in Europe.
We continue to stand ready to engage in dialogue with Russia.
And we believe we need arms control, we need to engage in arms control to prevent a new arms race. But this particular proposal over moratorium is not credible, because actually Russia needs to prove that they remove or destroy those weapons that actually destroyed the agreement that banned all kinds of intermediate range weapons in Europe.
Oana Lungescu (NATO Spokesperson)
We have time for a second and last question, Azeri News Agency.
Vugar Seidov (Azerbaijan State News Agency):
My name is Vugar Seidov and I'm from Azerbaijan State Information Agency. And my question is to Mr. Stoltenberg. After the victory in the second Karabakh war, Azerbaijan as a winner country has repeatedly suggested to Armenia to work on the peace agreement on the basis of recognition of territorial integrity and sovereignty. But unfortunately, Armenia to this date has avoided this goal. Now, my question is, given the developing relations between Armenia and NATO, what role can NATO play in persuading Armenia to sign the peace agreement with Azerbaijan? Thank you.
Jens Stoltenberg (NATO Secretary General)
First of all, we welcome the fact that it was possible to end hostilities and actually reach an agreement that stopped the fighting.
Second, we strongly believe that it is important to continue to normalize the relationship between Azerbaijan and Armenia. And NATO supports the efforts towards the normalization and dialogue between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
And the President and I discussed actually these issues in detail during our meeting today. And also welcome the fact that there will be a trilateral meeting later on today. And that highlights that dialogue is going on, normalization is moving in the right direction.
And, the important thing is to avoid actions that could result in resumption of violence and unresolved issues should be settled by diplomatic means.
NATO does not take side because we have … Azerbaijan as a valued partner, but also Armenia is a valued partner of NATO. So we support the diplomatic efforts we support the trilateral efforts and we strongly support the normalization between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Oana Lungescu (NATO Spokesperson)
Thank you very much. This concludes this press point. Thank you.
Jens Stoltenberg (NATO Secretary General)