Videoconference discussions of the Nizami Ganjavi International Center “South Caucasus: Prospects for Regional Development and Cooperation” started with the participation of President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev on 20 May.
Former presidents, prime ministers, as well as high-ranking officials, well-known public and political figures, diplomats and political scientists are taking part in the event.
Speech of President Ilham Aliyev
-Dear co-chairs of the Nizami Ganjavi International Center, Madame Vike-Freiberga and Mr. Serageldin.
First of all I would like to greet all the participants of today’s discussion. I would like to use this opportunity to express gratitude to the co-chairs and members of Nizami Center for initiating this discussion. Because I think it’s very timely and the topics which you have proposed-South Caucasus: Regional development and Prospective for Cooperation-I think it’s now one of the important topics on the global agenda because there have been very radical changes in the South Caucasus recently.
Of course the new situation needs new approaches. But first of all I would like to congratulate Nizami Ganjavi International Center for its excellent performance. During the time of the pandemic the center adjusted itself very wisely to a new situation and regardless the situation with the pandemic continued its activity and continued in a new form. But as Mr. Serageldin said we hope to get together in Azerbaijan later this year to organize our regular Baku Global Forum. Also, during these eight years of active performance the center became one of the leading international institutions in the world and its broad activity actually serves the cause of peace, cooperation, security, stability in the world. Members of the center are well-known, famous world politicians who run countries and international organizations for many years. So your experience really is unique. So, such a concentration of experience under one roof is really I think a very unique in today’s world. With respect to Azerbaijan’s views on what happened and what is going to happen. Of course, first of all I would like to say that the recent development in the region, the second Karabakh war, radically changed the situation. Therefore, the need for new approaches, the need for a new agenda for South Caucasus. I fully appreciate the topic of the discussion, regional development and prospective for cooperation, because that is what we really need.
Due to the fact of occupation which lasted almost 30 years, Azerbaijan openly declared its position that we will not cooperate with Armenia until the territories are liberated. I think that Armenia itself now understands that they made a very big mistake, because they lost time. If we look at today’s situation in Armenia we will see that the situation is much worse than when Armenia became an independent country. Because today Armenia doesn’t have army. It has been totally destroyed, it’s been in permanent political crisis for more than six months.
There is a big degree of mistrust in society, mutual accusations and some political leaders’ rhetoric is beyond any acceptable framework. So, they lost time, they were deprived of the initiatives of Azerbaijan with respect to energy and transportation development and finally they lost the territories which they occupied and the territories which never belonged to them neither by history nor by international law. But now, after the conflict is over, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has been resolved, has been resolved primarily by Azerbaijan and then by a joint declaration of 10 November last year we need to look to the future. Despite 30 years of occupation and large-scale destruction and devastation on the liberated territories, Azerbaijan is ready to look to the future, to plan its future as a part of integrated region of the South Caucasus. We hope that the time will come that we will really talk about active cooperation in the South Caucasus and integration. We all already made very important proposals and initiatives, by the way, which are reflected in the joint declaration of 10 November 2020, particularly with respect to opening of communications and opening new transportation corridors. I can tell you that the work have already started, on implementation of this project. Azerbaijan already allocated technical and financial resources for that. And when Zangazur corridor opens, it will open new opportunities for all the countries of the region. Therefore, I would like to say that Azerbaijan is open for cooperation, open for planning our common future, because we are neighbors whether we like it or not. We have to live side by side, and we need to learn once again how to live side by side. It’s not easy, emotions are here, especially when Azerbaijani people visit liberated territories and see total destruction you can imagine what kind of emotions they have. But the role of politicians is to defend their agenda and to explain that only through interaction we can provide sustainable development and peace and security in the region.
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