Baku, Azerbaijan, Sept. 10
Azerbaijan makes its contributions to international cooperation in the field of regional security and fight against terrorism, said Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov.
He was addressing a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States (Turkic Council), the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry told Trend Sept. 10.
"One of the main priorities of the Turkic Council is to develop and strengthen multilateral cooperation among the member states through concrete projects in various fields, like security, economy, energy, transport, culture, tourism, education, science and technology," said Mammadyarov.
"We strongly believe that peace and stability are much more needed to have sustainable development and prosperity," he added. "We make every effort to maintain peace, stability and wellbeing not only in our region, but also beyond it."
The minister also said that two members of the Turkic Council - Azerbaijan and Turkey - have strengthened military ties in the last years; they have engaged in more frequent and larger military exercises in both countries.
"Such increasing military ties between Azerbaijan and Turkey will improve combat readiness and ability, as well as organization of interaction, giving both countries more flexibility in the strategic, but sensitive Caucasus region," Mammadyarov added.
He also extended condolences to Turkey's Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu and the families of victims of heinous terror attacks that have recently taken place in Turkey.
"Recent developments all over the world once again confirmed that the main pillars to maintain peace and stability are the respect by the states for each other's sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of internationally recognized borders, as well as refraining from policy of aggression," said the minister.
"Nevertheless, Azerbaijan's sovereignty and territorial integrity have been violated for more than 20 years as result of Armenian occupation," he further said.
Minister Mammadyarov, noting that 20 percent of Azerbaijani lands are still under occupation, said an ethnic cleansing policy against Azerbaijani population was executed by Armenia and almost one million Azerbaijanis became refugees and internally displaced.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
"All international norms and principles, including basic conventional human rights were impudently violated," the minister added. "Till now, Armenia flagrantly ignores four UN Security Council resolutions adopted in 1993 on immediate, unconditional and complete withdrawal of Armenian occupying forces from Azerbaijan's lands."
Mammadyarov, touching upon economic cooperation as part of Turkic Council, highlighted that geographic location of member states provides an ample opportunity to benefit from member countries' competitive transit potential.
"Therefore, I believe that developing transport infrastructure, and most importantly, interconnectivity and infrastructure in our geography should remain one of key areas of cooperation," he said. "An ever increasing demand for passenger and cargo transportation across Eurasia makes it imperative to strengthen the East-West transport corridor (specifically its Trans-Caspian component) that would undoubtedly help revive the Historic Silk Road, so much cherished by our ancestors."
"It is also important to develop logistic capabilities of our ports and promote policies on simplifying the transit system and increasing the quality of multimodal cargo transportation," the minister added.
"The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, due to be commissioned next year, will pave the way for competitive, reliable and time-friendly shipments of passengers and cargo from China to Europe and vice versa, and would help unlock the huge transit potential of our countries and generate a stable source of income for our economies," he noted. "To this end, we strongly support the regular meetings of relevant ministries and entities in the framework of the Turkic Council and welcome proposals that would strengthen the capability of the aforementioned transport corridor."
The minister also recalled that Azerbaijan has always offered its infrastructure for transit of the Caspian energy resources to Western markets.
"Today, Azerbaijan also plays a significant role as an initiator and enabler of mega energy projects of trans-regional importance, such the Southern Gas Corridor," he said.
The minister added that the expansion of the South Caucasus Pipeline and construction of TANAP and TAP pipelines, main components of the Southern Gas Corridor, are well underway.
"It will connect the giant Shah Deniz gas field in Azerbaijan through Georgia and Turkey to Europe," he stressed.
"We also support initiatives on cooperation in ICT, renewable energy, small and medium size entrepreneurship development and private sector engagement among the member states," said the minister. "I would like to emphasize the importance of our partnership in tourism and exploring new investment opportunities in this sector."
Azerbaijani FM further noted that the cooperation in the humanitarian field is one of the main areas of partnership.
"We do appreciate the work done by TURKSOY, which has played a significant role in promoting culture of Turkic nations since its inception," he noted. "I think it is very important for Turkic Academy and Turkic Cultural Heritage Fund, which have been founded in 2012, to complete relevant procedures and to act as international organizations as soon as possible."
Mammadyarov added that the regular meetings of ministers and working groups in the field of education will allow implementing joint projects in this direction.
"Projects like preparation of joint book on Turkic history, interuniversity association, student-teacher exchange programs, will give an impetus to the development of our cooperation in this field," he said. "Yet another promising dimension of our engagement within the Turkic Council could be youth and sports."
Mammadyarov also noted that taking into account the expansion of the global information space with each passing day and the use of it as a powerful outreach activity mechanism, holding this year's Summit under the slogan "cooperation in the fields of media and information" meets modern requirements.
"We do appreciate cooperation in this field and support recently adopted resolutions during the first meeting of the heads of media and information structures of the member states in Astana," he said.
Mammadyarov added that it is important to continue cooperation towards coordination and mutual support for the candidacies of the member states and common position within international organizations, especially the UN.
"We have to strengthen our efforts in the direction of gaining observer status for Turkic Council to UN and OIC," he noted. "On the other hand the Council's cooperation with the OIC, OSCE, UN agencies - World Tourism Organization and UN Development Programme is laudable."