Ambassador to Egypt: Azerbaijan’s path of transformation
Azerbaijan, Baku, 25 April / Trend E.Tariverdiyeva /
Having survived the worst and set a course towards a better future, Azerbaijan is committed to regional peace, security and development, inclusive of Armenia, Azerbaijani Ambassador to Egypt Shahin Abdullayev says in the article for Al-Ahram website.
On the thorny way towards independence in the early 1990s, the new Republic of Azerbaijan had to face a complex set of internal and external problems, from economic hardship compounded by hyper-inflation and complete bankruptcy in the economy to - most notably - Armenian military aggression, Ambassador says.
However, Azerbaijan has proven the naysayers that Azerbaijan has embarked on an irreversible path of democratic development through explicit assertion of the rule of law, ensuring freedom of expression and other fundamental rights, increasing the capacity of democratic institutions and the promotion of civil society.
Having integrated into European legal space, Azerbaijan has become a full-fledged member of the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and, subsequently, the Council of Europe (CoE) and remains steadfast in its commitments to the values and principles that these institutions stand for, Abdullayev writes.
The strategic location of Azerbaijan at the intersection of major trade routes along the emerging East-West and North-South transport and energy corridors is an important asset, turning the country into an energy and infrastructure hub, according to the article.
In that domain, being actively engaged with neighbouring countries, Azerbaijan has started to develop air, land, maritime and railroad components of the ancient Silk Road, the author writes.
The regional railroad infrastructure between Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, after completion in 2013, will open an enormous opportunity for delivering all kinds of cargo between Asia and Europe, the article says.
As a consequence of a steadfast democratisation process, sustainable economic reforms and wise management of oil and gas revenues, 20 years after independence, Azerbaijan has transformed from an aid recipient to a donor country with an economy worth $65 billion and the foreign currency reserves exceeding $48 billion, and has an ambitious but realistic goal of obtaining the status of a developed country by the mid-2020s. Suffice to mention that only within the last five years Azerbaijan has almost tripled its GDP, and dramatic poverty reduction has been achieved, Abdullayev says.
It should be mentioned, according to Abdullayev, that consolidation of its democratic and stable development and strong economy has become the driving forces behind Azerbaijan's active, confident and independent foreign policy based on the principles of the pre-eminence of international law and justice.
Azerbaijan is an exporter of peace, security, stability and tolerance in the region and beyond through dialogue, engagement and cooperation. It is a constructive and reliable partner, able to play an important role in setting the parameters of fruitful regional cooperation, the Ambassador writes, adding that Azerbaijan is also an active member of many international and regional organisations, ranging from the UN, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), to the OSCE, the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO), CoE and others.
According to him, Azerbaijan demonstrates full support and undertakes ceaseless efforts for promotion of sustainable development and global prosperity for all, paying particular attention to addressing the special needs of least developed countries. To enlarge the boundaries of peace and security, Azerbaijan makes tangible contributions to international peacekeeping operations conducted in many different parts of the world.
Azerbaijan, historically being part of the Islamic world and sharing the progressive heritage and spiritual values of the Islamic civilisation, spares no efforts to support the joint action of member countries of the OIC to foster global dialogue and cooperation for the promotion of tolerance, peace and better understanding across countries, cultures and civilisations and to eradicate elements of Islamophobia, the article says.
As a country suffering from the occupation of its territories and forcible displacement of hundreds of thousands of its citizens, Azerbaijan cannot tolerate persistent, grave and systematic violations of the fundamental norms and principles of international law. There are still instances where archaic patterns of the use of force against territorial integrity and the political independence of states are practised for achieving territorial gains, the author states.
In that regard, the ongoing conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan continues to represent a serious threat and challenge to international and regional peace and security and hinders materialisation of regional development in full capacity in the South Caucasus, Abdullayev says.
The conflict has resulted in the occupation of almost 20 per cent of the territory of Azerbaijan and has made more than one million people in the country internally displaced persons or refugees. The war led to the deaths and wounding of thousands of Azerbaijanis, including women, the elderly and children. No single Azerbaijani historic and cultural monument, including sites of Islamic heritage, was left undamaged, and no sacred site escaped desecration both in the occupied territories and in Armenia, according to the article.
Abdullayev says that attempts by the Armenian side to misinterpret the norms and principles of international law and its insistence on unrealistic annexationist claims, which Azerbaijan will never accept, speak to the real intentions of the leadership of Armenia and represent an open challenge to the conflict settlement process and a serious threat to international and regional peace and security.