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» Azerbaijan regards Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process as valuable mechanism
01/12/2017 Yazdır

Azerbaijan regards the “Heart of Asia - Istanbul Process” as valuable mechanism of dialogue and cooperation for attaining peace, reconciliation, security and economic development of Afghanistan, said Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev at the 7th Heart of Asia - Istanbul Process Ministerial Conference in Baku Dec. 1.

"Since joining the process in 2012, we are actively participating in this multilateral platform," said the president.

The president went on to name respect, adherence to the principles of international law, territorial integrity, respect for equality, and non-interference in internal affairs as cornerstone for ensuring regional and international security, providing stability and predictability.

The president went on to say that Azerbaijan's security has been seriously challenged from the very beginning of the restoration of its independence, by military aggression of Armenia.

"As a country suffering from continued occupation of 1/6 of its territory and possible displacement of hundreds of thousands of citizens, Azerbaijan fully realizes the value of peace, security and stability," Ilham Aliyev said.

"For more than 20 years Armenia occupies almost 20 percent of the territory of Azerbaijan - Nagorno-Karabakh and seven other regions of our country. More than one million of Azerbaijanis became refugees and internally displaced persons," he said.

"Armenia conducted the policy of ethnic cleansing of Azerbaijanis in Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh and seven other regions of Azerbaijan," noted the president.

He went on to add that the situation in the occupied territories is well known to the international community.

"The OSCE has twice sent fact-finding and assessment missions to the occupied territories, and their reports say that acts of vandalism have been committed on these lands. Our cities, villages, buildings, graves, cemeteries, and mosques were destroyed by Armenia," said the president.

President Ilham Aliyev reminded that in in 1993 the UN Security Council adopted four resolutions, demanding immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian troops from the territory of Azerbaijan.

“The status quo is unacceptable. This is stated not only by Azerbaijan, but also by the OSCE Minsk group co-chair countries. The presidents of these countries have repeatedly stated that the status-quo must be changed, and is unacceptable,” he said.

The Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict must be resolved on the basis of international law, relevant UN Security Council resolutions, said the president.

“The territorial integrity of Azerbaijan must be completely restored,” he said.

President Aliyev further said that Azerbaijan is among the first and most active supporters of Afghanistan in its endeavor to overcome the ongoing challenges.

“We remain committed to supporting the stabilization, peaceful reconstruction and development of Afghanistan through bilateral efforts, as well as active participation within the multilateral platforms,” he said.

“Well-being and prosperity of Afghanistan, economic growth and regional cooperation are interlinked and dependent on the overall security environment in the region,” said the president.

“It is crucial, that while focusing on the reconstruction and economic development of Afghanistan, we continue addressing the security challenges facing the country, to maintain the progress made so far,” he noted.

Therefore, it is of utmost importance to continue our joint efforts in fighting the security threat emerging from terrorism, violent extremism and separatism – in all forms and manifestations, and enhance regional cooperation in that end, said Ilham Aliyev.

The president went on to say that Azerbaijan remains committed to sharing experience with Afghanistan through bilateral channels and providing assistance in military, law enforcement , de-mining spheres.

He further mentioned the provision of troops, multimodal transit and financial assistance.

President Aliyev also noted Azerbaijan’s state agency for services and social innovations to citizens, ASAN Service, which is actively cooperating with Afghanistan.

“This cooperation is aimed at improvement of state services of Afghanistan through establishing a one stop-shop center for providing services to citizens,” he said.

The president noted that Azerbaijan is also engaged in cooperation with Afghanistan with a view to facilitate its integration into regional economy, and to increase regional connectivity.

The president then mentioned the regional connectivity projects initiated by Azerbaijan, which include the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railroad, the new Baku international sea trade port, logistics transit on the shores of the Caspian Sea, railway network of Azerbaijan and Iran.

Ilham Aliyev said this represents qualitatively new achievements in developing transregional infrastructure with multimodal capability along the East-West, North-South access.

“These projects will facilitate Afghanistan’s access to global markets and provide connectivity in the region, capable of handling cargo containers in a much shorter, faster, efficient and cost-effective way,” said the president.

“The recently signed Lapis Lazuli route agreement by Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey and Turkmenistan is a major international trade corridor deal that will connect Afghanistan directly to Europe,” said Ilham Aliyev.

“It is a milestone in Afghanistan’s effort to achieve connectivity through improving and building infrastructure to increase trade across Eurasia,” he said.

The president also noted that being part of this agreement, Azerbaijan is glad to contribute, providing multiple options to Afghanistan in terms of transit and transportation.

Ilham Aliyev also mentioned Afghanistan’s role as an important hub for regional trade, transit and transport, regarding regional economic cooperation.

Noting that Afghanistan benefits from its geographic location, President Aliyev said that supporting sustainable development in Afghanistan is very important.

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