Despite the internal and external challenges, the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR) was the first democratic republic in the East and in the Muslim world, said Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov.
He made these remarks at an international conference dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, AzVision.az reports.
Mammadyarov noted that with the reforms carried out at the time, ADR even left behind some western countries.
"Women were enfranchised and given the right to hold office. Education became one of the most important targets for creating national identity. It is essential to continue the existence of our republic on the basis of ADR's fundamental values," the minister said.
Mammadyarov added that after the collapse of the USSR, Azerbaijan faced a crisis.
Armenian aggression, ethnic cleansing and the occupation of Azerbaijani territories resulted in about 1 million people becoming refugees and IDPs, the top diplomat emphasized.
"However, the work carried out later and the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline opened up great opportunities for Azerbaijan. The poverty rate dropped from 49 to 5 percent, and the unemployment rate declined to 5 percent, which is one of our greatest achievements," he added.
Mammadyarov underlined that although the country continues to prosper, the occupied lands remains the biggest problem.
"I do not know where the recent efforts would take us, but the reality is that Azerbaijan is always ready to establish good neighborly relations with Armenians only after the restoration of its territorial integrity. We will not abandon the restoration of the territorial integrity of our country and will not lose our sovereignty. Our borders are internationally recognized," the minister concluded.
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