Azerbaijan, Baku, Dec. 30 /. Trend S. Agayeva /
Azerbaijan has taken all reasonable steps for strong and sustainable peace in the region, the carried out work contributed to the development of the region and the country's integration into the international community, Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov said on Sunday in an interview with the Azerbaijani and foreign media on the results of the outgoing year.
"Peace and security are closely linked to socio-economic development. This is of strategic importance for provision of peace and progress in addressing regional issues. Oil and gas infrastructure projects, such as Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan and Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum successfully completed with Azerbaijan's participation, as well as Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, the construction of which will be completed next year, contribute to economic and social development in the region, and most importantly, lead to long-term cooperation based on mutual trust and benefit," the minister said.
He said, an agreement on the TANAP project, and the project of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway happen to be historically significant steps for creation of transit corridor between Europe and Asia.
"A number of countries in the region, such as Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, China, Uzbekistan and others, have already expressed their interest in the project which will be commissioned in 2014," he noted.
Mammadyarov said that it is interesting that, for the first time in South Caucasus since the Cold war, the implementation of transnational project in the South Caucasus, is being realized without the participation of a third party.
"We are also proceeding with the implementation of the Trans-Eurasian Information Super Highway (TASIM) project, aimed at creating a new major transit route between the two general regions of Internet exchange - Asia (Hong Kong) and Europe (Frankfurt)," he said.
He added, that improving connectivity to the core of the ICT sector of the Central Eurasian region by increasing the connection speed, and lowering prices are the main goals of this project.
The UN General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution on "Expanding internet access by creating Trans-Eurasian Information Super Highway' (TASIM), initiated by the Azerbaijan, on December 21 this year.
Mammadyarov went on to note that as a guarantor of security, stability and progress in the region, Azerbaijan wages active fight against drug trafficking, religious extremism and terrorism, cooperating with international organizations in this field.
"Today, Azerbaijan is a leading country in the region. From the country receiving investments, Azerbaijan has turned into an investor-country," he said.
"The main goals for Azerbaijani investments are precisely regional countries. Major projects in Turkey and Georgia are a clear indication of this. The economic strength of the country, growing year by year, will give us an opportunity to act more intensively in this direction in the future, "he said.
The minister said the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict remains a major obstacle for realizing region's full potential.
"The policy of the Armenian side, naturally, has led to the country being left outside of regional projects. I believe that settlement of the conflict will encourage inter-regional integration, as well as provide an opportunity for the region's integration into Europe" Mammadyarov 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 regarding the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding regions.