Baku, Azerbaijan, Nov. 7
By Seba Aghayeva - Trend:
Azerbaijan has chosen the development of democracy as the main principle of presidency in the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov said at an international conference dedicated to the policy of the Council of Europe towards Neighbouring Regions Nov. 7.
"We elevated the promotion of intercultural and interreligious dialogue to the level of foreign policy priority," Mammadyarov said.
"Today, Azerbaijan is a fast growing economy," he said. "Substantial oil and gas resources and pivotal position as a regional transportation hub allow Azerbaijan to increase its contribution to European energy security."
"With its growing economic might, Azerbaijan feels moral responsibility to help those in need around the world," he said. "This spirit guided us to become a donor country helping sustainable development efforts in Africa."
Mammadyarov is scheduled to report on the work conducted as part of the chairmanship.
"Azerbaijan deployed significant efforts in furthering the core objectives of the Council of Europe by working in a spirit of compromise and dialogue to achieve consensual outcomes to the benefit of all," he said. "Over this period, Azerbaijan focused on a number of areas, including the fight against corruption, the consolidation of culturally diverse societies, social cohesion and youth education."
Further on, the minister touched upon the Nagorno-Karabakh issue.
"Azerbaijan and the region would have achieved more, without grave consequences of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan which resulted in the illegal occupation by Armenia of our internationally recognized territories - Nagorno-Karabakh region and 7 adjacent districts and the forced displacement of a million Azerbaijani civilians," he said.
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. The two countries signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994.
"We are approaching the very end of our Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe," he said. "I will be in Strasbourg to hand over the chairmanship to Belgium Nov. 13."