RIGA - Azerbaijan plays an important role in diversifying the European Union's natural gas supply routes and strengthening Europe's energy security, President Egils Levits said during a meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Baku today.
The two presidents discussed relations between Latvia and Azerbaijan, the EU-Azerbaijan dialog, European security issues and alternative energy sources for Europe, as Justine Deicmane, head of the President Chancery's Media Center, informed LETA.
Levits emphasized the importance of the dialog between the EU and Azerbaijan. Latvia welcomes the EU-Azerbaijan memorandum of understanding on cooperation in energy, he said.
After the meeting, Levits said that Latvia was interested in maintaining political dialog with Azerbaijan at all levels. To date, 14 cooperation agreements have been concluded between Latvian and Azerbaijani municipalities. In addition, Latvia and Azerbaijan will celebrate the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations next year.
Latvia is interested in exploring future cooperation prospects with Azerbaijan in such areas as information and communication technology, smart energy, and green technology, said Levits. Transport and logistics is another area of cooperation. He added that Latvian national airline airBaltic was planning to resume flight between Riga and Baku in May this year.
As a NATO member, Latvia supports developing closer cooperation between NATO and Azerbaijan in the Partnership for Peace program, said Levits. Latvia is pleased to extend the mandate of the Latvian embassy in Baku as a NATO contact point until 2024.
During the meeting, Levits and Aliyev also discussed the situation in Ukraine and assistance to Ukraine in its war against Russia. Latvia highly values Azerbaijan's humanitarian aid and energy supply, political support and the recent delivery of generators to Ukraine, said Levits. Lasting peace in Ukraine can only be achieved based on international law and territorial integrity principles, he added.
Levits and Aliyev went on to discuss cooperation between the two countries at international institutions. Latvia attaches great importance to cooperation with Azerbaijan at the United Nations, said Levits, adding that Latvia had a high opinion of Aliyev's role as head of the Non-Aligned Movement, coordinating the forum of 120 countries.
Levits also commented on the dialog at the Council of Europe, informing Aliyev that Latvia would assume presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe from May to November this year. Latvia, together with other members of the Council of Europe, will work to strengthen democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Europe.
Speaking of the situation in Karabakh, Levits expressed Latvia's official position - Latvia wants to see a stable and prosperous South Caucasus. It is important to find a sustainable and peaceful solution to the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan within the framework of international law, said Levits.