AzVision.az presents the speech delivered by Azerbaijani FM:
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to start by congratulating Albania for the successful chairmanship at a turbulent time as the world is facing with two urgent and era-defining challenges: fighting the COVID pandemic and fighting the global economic recession. Both challenges require effective, coordinated and multilateral cooperation. BSEC as an important mechanism of regional cooperation is well placed to support efforts aimed to build resilient societies and resilient economies.
Azerbaijan believes that our cooperation within the BSEC can be further developed by strengthening the project-oriented dimension of activities and post-COVID era is an imperative to do so. It is important to focus on demand-driven programs and joint economic projects, which can be implemented within a reasonable time frame. In this regard, potential of the working groups, the mechanism of country-coordinators and interaction between the BSEC affiliated bodies should be fully utilized. With this in mind, Azerbaijan assumes the country-coordinatorship of the two working groups: on Culture and on Institutional renewal and good governance and will do its utmost to stir up the cooperation in the respective areas.
Next year we celebrate an important milestone - the 30th Anniversary of the organization. With an ever evolving international and regional contexts, the organization has to revitalize its sense of purpose and adapt to new realities while preserving its values. In our view, the organization should focus on the implementation of the BSEC Economic Agenda, and if necessary, set up new goals and objectives which will give much needed boost to the economic cooperation.
At the national level, building on the COVID experience, Azerbaijan has further strengthened its support to economic and business activities. In February 2021, a strategic document "Azerbaijan 2030: National Priorities for Socio-Economic Development" was adopted. The document approved by President Ilham Aliyev sets out 5 national priorities to be achieved in the next ten years. These priorities are competitive economy; society based on dynamic, inclusive and social justice; competitive human capital and space for modern innovations; great return to the liberated territories; clean environment and “green growth” country. These priorities are also of particular relevance to achieving “The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.
Development of transport sector remains an important priority. Much attention is paid to the development of all parts of the transport network in order to turn Azerbaijan into an important transport hub in the Eurasian region and these have led to the raised attention of international freight forwarders. Today corridors and routes passing through Azerbaijan offer competitive edges for the transport operators in terms of high-end infrastructure and shortest delivery time. In the meantime, we play an active role in the development of the regional synergy and support new formats of cooperation aimed at achieving better connectivity and unhindered transport operations.
Having restored its territorial integrity, Azerbaijan has repeatedly expressed its determination to normalize relations with Armenia on the basis of mutual recognition of and respect for each other’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of internationally recognized borders. Establishment of good-neighborly relations on this basis has no alternative for long-term peace and stability in the region. The both sides have unique chance to establish such relations through consistent implementation of the Trilateral Statements undersigned by their leaders.
Following the liberation of the state border with Armenia from 30-year-long occupation Azerbaijan is currently establishing border control infrastructure along the state border. We propose Armenia to start bilateral discussions on border delimitation and demarcation. Azerbaijan expects Armenia’s positive reaction.
Hatred against Azerbaijan accompanied by revanchist rhetoric in Armenia is a source of serious concern. Anti-Azerbaijani hate speech which unites ruling and opposition political figures in Armenia risks the fragile process of normalization. Armenia must finally live up to its obligations under the customary international humanitarian law, as well as the Trilateral Statement and release the maps of the mined areas with a view to avoiding additional human suffering.
With the end of the armed conflict in accordance with the Trilateral Statement, Azerbaijan entered into a new stage of post-conflict rehabilitation, reconstruction and reintegration. In the post-conflict period, sustaining peace, rehabilitation and reconstruction activities and return of IDPs is the absolute priority for Azerbaijan.
The Government has already initiated practical steps aiming at eliminating consequences of decades-old occupation of the territories accompanied by massive destruction. “Green energy”, “smart city and smart village” concepts, alongside with the circular economy principles, state of art technologies will be applied in the process of reconstruction. We appreciate a strong interest of the partner countries to support our efforts through investments and technical cooperation.
The resolution of the conflict also opens up new perspectives for regional cooperation, development and prosperity. The 10 November 2020 joint statement has been further complemented with a trilateral Azerbaijan-Russia-Armenia statement of 11 January 2021 envisaging opening of communications in the region. Implementation of these measures will significantly change the landscape of the important part of BSEC region - the South Caucasus. Along with connecting Azerbaijan with its Nakhchivan exclave, which was in blockade for almost three decades, the new landline - the Zangazur Corridor between Azerbaijan and Turkey will serve as a supplement to the existing trade and transport connectivity. Restoration of the communications is a win-win situation for the entire region and will raise the importance of the wider Black Sea geography.
Transport, communication and trade related initiatives will enable to gain from new partnerships and opportunities. In addition to bolstering growth, strengthened regional cooperation can help to build economic stakes in the region that will reduce the risk of military flare up and consolidate peace and stability.
We expect the international community, including the BSEC to exert maximum efforts to realize the vision of peace, security and cooperation opened up with the end of the armed conflict. Azerbaijan sincerely hopes that the emerging opportunities will be duly grasped and adequately assessed by the Organization and its individual Member States.
Availing this opportunity I would like to extend my gratitude to H.E. Mr. Michael Christides for his successful tenures as the BSEC Secretary General and his valuable contributions to further drive our collaboration. I also congratulate H.E. Mr. Lasar Comanescu with his appointment as a new BSEC Secretary General, extend our support in efforts to make the BSEC stronger platform for the fruitful regional cooperation.
In conclusion let me express my best wishes to Georgia, the incoming Chairmanship-in-Office. We wish Vice Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs David Zalkaliani all the best in his endeavors and ready to cooperate fully with you.