14 December 2018, Baku
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to cordially welcome you at the 39th Meeting of the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the BSEC Member States, here in Baku and express my gratitude to you for accepting our invitation to join these deliberations.
The Azerbaijani BSEC Chairmanship with its motto “Boosting Trade through Connectivity” has focused on regional connectivity issues and I am confident that today’s 39th Meeting of the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs will be another good opportunity to exchange views and to discuss the current state of cooperation within the Organization and perspectives for our further joint efforts.
Our today’s agenda is rather rich with issues starting from increasing effectiveness and efficiency of our Organization, facilitation of trade, promotion of cooperation in the fields of energy, transport, ICT, tourism and agriculture as well as intra Organizational matters.
Being a landlocked developing country, Azerbaijan from the early years of its independence has strongly been supportive to building of interconnectivity in the region. For the last two decades my country has already initiated and mostly commissioned a number of regional megaprojects in the field of energy (Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum, Baku-Supsa, Southern Gas Corridor: TANAP, TAP), transport (East-West and North-South international transport corridors, Baku-Tbilisi-Kars, the new Baku International Sea Trade in Alat) and ICT (TASIM) which are aimed at strengthening regional economic links.
The Azerbaijani Chairmanship paid a significant attention to the issue of connectivity within our Organization and has organized and facilitated a number meetings on different levels including two Ministerial Meetings on Transport (25.10.2018) and ICT (04.12.2018) in Baku for further contributing to development and expansion of trade flows within the BSEC region and beyond.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In conformity with our Chairmanship priorities, Azerbaijan also made efforts to streamline the ongoing reform process aimed at improving efficiency and effectiveness of cooperation within our Organization. In this regard, we do believe that these efforts will be supported by incoming Chairmanships and the relevant Gap Analysis document recently prepared by BSEC PERMIS will guide us on this endeavor.
Azerbaijan firmly believes in the prosperous future of the Black Sea region and has no doubt that this future can only be built on the basis of the good neighbourhood, mutual respect, humanity and tolerance.
The biggest impediments for the regional cooperation, in particular, in the geography of BSEC are unresolved conflicts. For Azerbaijan and Armenia it is Nagorno Karabakh conflict. The military occupation of the territory of Azerbaijan does not represent a solution and will never produce a political outcome desired by Armenia.
The principle position of Azerbaijan is running in line with the norms and principles of international law, reaffirmed in the BSEC Charter as well, particularly in respect of states’ territorial integrity, sovereignty within their internationally recognized borders.
The still ongoing occupation and policies of self-isolation also deprive Armenia of its potential for economic growth and trade in the region. It also undermines our efforts to build a common regional trade in full respect to each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
We hope whenever a new Government will be formed in Armenia upon the mandate of the people of this country we must make a breakthrough next year and build up a good opportunity for bringing peace, stability and prosperity to the region.
In conclusion, I would like to highlight that Azerbaijan remains committed to the process of improving effectiveness of BSEC and wish our meeting to arrive at interesting and fruitful exchange of opinions to that end.
I want to take this opportunity to thank all Member States for their support to the Azerbaijani Chairmanship, which I believe will give a fresh impetus and guidance to our cooperation in the coming years.
I also would like to express my appreciation to the BSEC PERMIS staff for their support and valuable assistance throughout our Chairmanship. I wish to encourage them to multiply their efforts on the same path and in support of the next BSEC Chairmanship-in-Office.
Having said that I now pass the torch of BSEC to the Chairmanship of Bulgaria. We sincerely congratulate our Bulgarian colleagues on this occasion and wish them every success in their Chairmanship endeavors. Since we still are in BSEC Troika, we are more pleased to render any kind of assistance required from our side.