Azerbaijan, Baku, March 19 / Trend, S. Agayeva /
Strengthening the bilateral strategic partnership between Azerbaijan and the U.S. meets the long term national interests of each country, U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan Elin Suleymanov said in his interview with Trend on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Azerbaijan and the United States.
"Successes of Azerbaijani-U.S. relations over the past 20 years are obvious. First, it reflects the understanding of both sides that strengthening the bilateral strategic partnership meets the long term national interests of each country," Suleymanov said.
Based mainly on it, national leader Heydar Aliyev laid the foundations and key directions of our relationship, he said.
As part of the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations, the U.S. State Department and Embassy held a joint reception in Washington, addressed by Deputy Secretary of State Philip Gordon. "Both the facts of co-hosting this event and the high-level representation of the U.S. show the importance of relations with Azerbaijan attached by our American colleagues," Suleymanov said.
Speaking about future plans, Suleymanov stressed that given such a wide palette of relations he would like to see their further development in all areas from security and economic issues to themes of culture.
"Every year more and more Americans learn about Azerbaijan's realities, in particular about the Khojaly tragedy and continuing pain of the Azerbaijani people. This process occurs both at the federal level and at the level of states and local authorities," Suleymanov said.
He said that the Azerbaijani diaspora and public organisations conducted much work during the year of the 20th anniversary of the Khojaly tragedy in the U.S.
As a result, some Congress members made statements. These were made at the level of state and local authoritative bodies, as well as published in the media.
In this regard, the diplomat expressed his gratitude to the activists of the Azerbaijani and Turkish Diaspora, public organisations and all Azerbaijan's friends.
The Armenian military forces committed genocide in Khojaly on Feb. 26, 1992. Some 613 people were killed, including 63 children, 106 women and 70 old men. A total of 1000 civilians were injured during the genocide. Eight families were massacred, 130 children lost one parent and 25 lost both. Additionally, 1275 innocent residents were taken hostage, while the fate of 150 remains unknown.
"It is down to the role of Leyla Aliyeva's international initiative 'Justice for Khojaly', that the awareness of the issue is growing in the world today and should be stressed," he said.
"Of course, the duty of every Azerbaijani is to convey the truth about Khojaly. The consequences of an ethnic cleansing policy carried out by the Armenian armed forces and the continued illegal occupation of our land," Suleymanov said.
"Moreover, I hope that the spread of the truth about the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict will help move towards a rapid settlement. Therefore, not only Azerbaijanis and Azerbaijan's friends, but also all those who want to see an early solution to the conflict must facilitate in bringing objective information to the world community."
Taking into account the U.S. role as OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing country and strategic interests in the South Caucasus, the activation of the U.S. side would be the natural course of events, the diplomat said.
"I would like to see real progress in resolving the conflict, rather than just the active work of one of the Minsk Group co-chairmen as a whole," he said.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 per cent of Azerbaijan since 1992, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group - Russia, France, and the U.S. - are currently holding the peace negotiations.
Armenia has not yet implemented the U.N. Security Council's four resolutions on the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding regions.