Azerbaijan, Baku, Dec. 28 / Trend E.Tariverdiyeva/
Trend conducted an exclusive interview with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov
Trend : Can we call 2009 a successful year in terms of the country's foreign policy? What will be priorities of our foreign policy in 2010?
Mammadyarov: The year was rich in activities and successes for Azerbaijani foreign policy. Among these many successes were: Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev's frequent visits abroad, the visits of myriad heads of state and foreign officials to Azerbaijan, intensive bilateral cooperation, an intensive negation process on resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the active involvement of international organizations, as well as events of international importance that were held in our country and abroad.
Moreover, Baku was the cultural capital of the Islamic world. We have achieved economic progress and stability amid the global financial crisis within the country and Azerbaijan straightened its position on regional and global levels, as well as expanded its diplomatic representations' geography. We have enhanced Azerbaijan's role in combating traditional and new global threats.
The resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and restoration of our territorial integrity remain the most basic priorities of our foreign policy in 2010. In this regard, we will use all our capabilities to implement the strategic targets set by the President Ilham Aliyev. Moreover, our other foreign policy priorities are to increase our country's leadership role in the South Caucasus, as well as our prestige as a responsible participant in the international system of communications. We also aim to develop stable bilateral, regional and international ties meeting our national interests, continue mutually respective relations with all countries, actively partake in international organizations, proceed with our integration process into Europe and the Euro-Atlantic space, and further expand our capabilities as an exporting and transit country of great importance and influence on world energy markets.
Q: Can we call 2009 as a year of progress in resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?
A: This year can be seen in terms of intensified negotiations to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents' six meetings this year testify to this fact. The international community also showed immense interest toward settling this conflict. Thus, the G-8 Summit in the Italian L'Aquila city adopted a joint statement by the presidents of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the foreign ministers of Russia and France and the U.S Assistant Secretary of State adopted a joint statement on the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement Dec.1 as a result of the Athens meeting of the OSCE Council of Foreign Ministers.
The international community knows that the status quo is inadmissible and the conflict must be settled soon. Our position on its resolution is clear. The conflict must be resolved only within the framework of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and internationally recognized borders of Azerbaijan. This position is based on the norms and principles of international law and U.N. charters, the Helsinki Final Act and numerous international papers adopted within the framework of the conflict settlement.
The country's position is reflected in a joint declaration signed by the presidents of Azerbaijan, Russia and Armenia in November 2008 in Moscow, stating that the conflict should be resolved within the norms of international law, as well as documents adopted within this framework.
Today, the whole world sees the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict only through observing the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. Negotiations are in progress and based on these principles. Progress on resolving the conflict is possible only after the Armenian troops withdraws from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.
Q: Recently, Azerbaijan called the actions of the world "double standards" in terms of this conflict. A program on Nagorno-Karabakh broadcast by Euronews, the U.S. decision to allocate aid to the separatist regime, and the European Parliament's resolution on freedom of speech in Azerbaijan are several examples. What are your thoughts in this regard?
A: Some forces in the world community are jealous of our increasing authority. In some cases, this manifests itself as double standards. We assess the incidents that you cited as examples of disrespect to our territorial integrity, the occupation of our lands, the ethnic cleansing of about million Azerbaijani refugees and IDPs, and destruction of our historical and cultural monuments and we strictly protest against these actions.
Meanwhile, Azerbaijan is a young country that started along the path of democratic development in a complex international environment and continues making steps to promote high standards and values of nation-building. The process is closely monitored and analyzed by the international community. However, in some cases, these evaluations of our progress are more akin to pressure on our country, which disturbs our momentum.
Azerbaijan is ahead of many regional and non-regional countries in terms of its democracy.
The policy that Aliyev has pursued has turned Azerbaijan into a strong and powerful country and a regional leader. Attempts to exert pressure on Azerbaijan are unacceptable.