Baku. 22 May. REPORT.AZ/ "Armenian armed forces must withdraw from the territories which do not belong to them." Report informs that Azerbaijani Minister of Foreign Affairs Elmar Mammadyarov said it in the 4th Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga.
Elmar Mammadyarov expressed gratitude to Latvian authorities for the warm hospitality and successful organization of the Summit, on behalf of President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev.
E.Mammadyarov said that Vilnius Eastern Partnership Summit set out ambitious goals with an objective to give further impetus to the engagement of partners with EU: "The pace of advancement towards this goal was influenced by new geopolitical challenges which called for wider and enhanced dialogue. In the case of Azerbaijan, pragmatism and focus has remained in the heart of the policy towards strengthening relations with the EU."
He noted that since 2004 GDP grew 3.5 times which is a record figure in the world and in the last 11 years the volume of investments reached 180 billion USD: "Our foreign exchange reserves which stood at 1.8 billion USD in 2004 now exceed 50 billion USD. The economic ratings of influential international organizations confirm that Azerbaijan is a front-runner in terms of possessing sustainable economic growth in the region. All these developments contribute to the modernization of the country which goes hand-in-hand with consistent political reforms. Azerbaijan acknowledges that vibrant civil society and community participation can take an active role in democratic consolidation and economic prosperity in the country. Political stability is our prized asset which creates further advantages to foster our cooperation with our worldwide partners."
E.Mammadyarov stressed that multicultural society with its deep historical roots makes Azerbaijan an “island of peace and prosperity” and today, all ethnicities and religions enjoy equal rights and privileges in Azerbaijan: "We are convinced that there is no any alternative to promotion of multiculturalism. Modern world cannot afford self-alienation and isolation which can lead to violence and strife. Azerbaijan is ready to share its historic experience and cooperate with its European partners in the field of promotion of multiculturalism."
The minister added that strategic partnership in the field of energy evolves remarkably especially thanks to numerous joint initiatives spearheaded by Azerbaijan in the margins of the realization of the Southern Gas Corridor: "The groundbreaking ceremonies of the Southern Gas Corridor in Baku followed by similar event for TANAP in Kars, Turkey was a leap forward in tackling infrastructure related issues. It should be mentioned that the mutual trust, confidence and support of the respective governments as well as effective communication among the companies involved are major prerequisites of successful and timely realization of the Southern Gas Corridor. In this regard, Azerbaijan convened the first meeting of Advisory Council of the Southern Gas Corridor countries in Baku with presence of EU and international financial institutions. The Southern Gas Corridor will serve the overarching aim of the Energy Union through which the EU wants to ensure a secure, reliable and uninterrupted energy for its citizens. Therefore, Azerbaijan is looking forward to increased support of the EU to the realization of this project which will bring new volumes from new sources. Successful cooperation in the field of energy has enormous potential to guide both Azerbaijan and the EU to upgrade bilateral contractual relations to strategic level. The growing number of strategic partner countries in the EU is an inspiration and strong incentive in this regard. Another geo-strategic project is Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railroad, which connects railway network of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. Initiated by my country four years ago, it should start operations this year. This corridor will open enormous opportunities for development through connection Europe and Asia via South Caucasus and Central Asia region."
According to him, protracted conflicts pose persisting challenges to the peace and cooperation in the Eastern Partnership: "The ongoing occupation of the territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan by Armenia is a serious factor of instability in the region. Armenia continues to ignore the relevant four UN SC Resolutions through attempts to ignore them. Azerbaijan has aligned itself with OSCE Minsk Group calls to start drafting a Comprehensive Peace Agreement. However, Armenia evades from any constructive engagement that envisages change of status-quo in the settlement of the conflict. In this case, Armenia will continue to bear the entire responsibility for any escalation in the conflict. Establishment of peace and stability as well as good neighborly relations in the region is contingent upon the restoration of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Azerbaijan within its internationally recognized borders. Armenian armed forces must withdraw from the territories which do not belong to them. The expelled Azerbaijani population should be able to exercise their right to return to their places of origin safely and with dignity."
E.Mammadyarov said that Azerbaijan strongly advocates for a tailored approach in our relations within the future ENP: " The new modalities of our cooperation will be reflected in the draft bilateral Agreement of strategic partnership that formally presented to the Commissioner for European Neighborhood and Enlargement Johannes Hahn and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini."
On the Declaration, the minister stressed that the Republic of Azerbaijan is building its relations with EU based on bilateral track.