Unresolved conflicts hinder cooperation in region, Azerbaijani FM

By: Sara Rajabova

Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov has said unresolved conflicts seriously impede cooperation in the region.

Mammadyarov addressed the 6th Eastern Partnership Informal Ministerial Dialogue held in Tbilisi on November 26.

“Conflict resolution is definitely the weakest brick in the wall of cooperation. We are working on the proposal put forth by the Russian side on behalf of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs,” the minister said.

He said the withdrawal of Armenian occupying forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, return of IDPs, people-to-people contacts between Azerbaijani and Armenian communities of Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan are all important elements that are needed to focus on.

“We all are united in the view that unresolved conflicts seriously impede cooperation in the region,” Mammadyarov said.

Armenia captured Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions from Azerbaijan in a war that followed the Soviet breakup in 1991. More than 20,000 Azerbaijanis were killed and nearly 1 million were displaced as a result of the war.

Large-scale hostilities ended with a Russia-brokered ceasefire in 1994 but Armenia continued the occupation in defiance of four UN Security Council resolutions calling for immediate and unconditional withdrawal. Peace talks mediated by Russia, France and the U.S. have produced no results so far.

Furthermore, speaking about the recent developments happening in the world, the minister said many things changed since Riga Summit, such as tragic events in Paris, developments on the Syrian border.

“We must cooperate to fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. This is of utmost importance. We welcome the differentiation approach as has been announced in ENP review document,” he said.

Mammadyarov went on to say that there should also be a balance between addressing the challenge of migration and human rights issues, fundamental freedoms versus anti-radicalism and it is also important to curb the rise of Islamophobic tendencies in Europe.

“We, as EaP partners constantly hear criticism with regard to human rights issues in partner states. But how is about EU itself? The civil society forum should also highlight critical human rights issues in EU member states as well, if we are seriously considering mutual ownership,” he said.

Mammadyarov further highlighted the role of energy in modern world, noting it will be an important area of cooperation with EU.

“The work on the Southern Gas Corridor is proceeding smoothly. We expect the gas from Azerbaijan to reach Europe at the end of 2018 or early 2019. That said EU’s overall support is important for the SGC to be realized in a timely manner,” he said.

Mammadyarov further noted that transport – another important area of cooperation.

He said the Silk Road (Silk Wind) initiative by Azerbaijan, Turkey and Georgia is important not only for BAku, but also for EU that wishes to intensify cooperation with Central Asia. “This transport corridor will link Europe to this region via Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey and even further eastwards to China.”


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