Distinguished Mr. Chairman,
At the auspices, I would like to thank the member states of the Pacific Alliance for granting Azerbaijan the status of Observer State at this important organization. I would also like to extend my gratitude to Minister Popolizio and the Government of the Republic of Peru for warm hospitality provided to my delegation and excellent arrangement of the 14th Pacific Alliance Summit.
Contribution to global and regional security, implementation of large scale transportation and energy projects are amongst top priorities of Azerbaijan’s foreign policy. Over more than two and half decades of our independence, Azerbaijan has expanded its role in international cooperation, becoming an active member in a number of international organizations such as the United Nations, the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Council of Europe, Organization of Islamic Cooperation and Commonwealth of Independent States. In all these activities we emphasize and practically contribute to projects based on win-win scenario both for us and our partners, remain committed to principles of international law, adhere to economic and social justice. The recognition of growing role in multilateral diplomacy came with the election of Azerbaijan as Non-Permanent Member of the UN Security Council for 2011-2013. It is my delight to once again extend appreciation for members of the Alliance for their support to Azerbaijan’s bid to Security Council membership.
Another important acknowledgment for my country’s efforts in developing equal partnerships and pursuing balanced policy without joining any military bloc was the election of Azerbaijan to chair the Non-Aligned Movement for 2019-2022. In this regard let me once again extend invitation by H.E. Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan to members of Alliance for attending XVIII Summit of the NAM to be hosted in our capital city Baku in October 2019, and reiterate that my country will spare no efforts in further promoting the Movements’ lofty goals, in strengthening international peace, security and cooperation during the tenure of our chairmanship in the Movement.
While doing its utmost to contribute to international peace and security Azerbaijan is still facing continuous military aggression by neighboring Armenia, which resulted in occupation of 20 percent of internationally recognized territory of my country, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions; in ethnic cleansing of almost 1 million Azerbaijani refugees and IDPs; in destruction of numerous historical, cultural and religious monuments in the occupied Azerbaijani territories.
The mediation efforts by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, unfortunately, have still not yielded results, which should be the liberation of the occupied lands and restoration of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. This definitive result for negotiations is vested in the relevant resolutions of the UN SC, as well as the relevant documents of OSCE, the European Union and almost any international organization ever dealt with the conflict.
While being commitment to peaceful resolution of the conflict and taking proactive stance in OSCE - mediated negotiation process Azerbaijan expects international community to withhold any activity which Armenia abuses to solidify the results of illegal occupation of Azerbaijani lands and to facilitate appropriate actions to compel the aggressor to comply with the relevant UNSC resolution calling for withdrawal of Armenia from occupied Azerbaijani territories.
Azerbaijan is interested to expand its political, economic and cultural ties with the countries of South America of which important nations are also members to the Pacific Alliance. I underlined this interest once again just few months ago during my visit last March to South America, in particular to Chile, the member of the Alliance. It is no coincidence that the economic prospects of such cooperation were underlined during my participation at the UN High-Level Conference on South-South Cooperation held in Buenos Aires. We believe that cooperation between the global south countries is yet to unleash its full potential and once achieved it will greatly contribute to solutions of the current crisis-marked state of global social and economic order and global trade in particular. Notably, all these objectives are also amongst the priorities of the Pacific Alliance. The idea of South American nations member to the Alliance with combined GDP being the 6th in the world to unite efforts in facilitating trade ties particularly with Asian countries is of particular interest for Azerbaijan. Consideration that goods and services being produced by the Alliance countries in the Asian markets can be further exported to Middle Eastern and European markets increases the importance of Azerbaijan as a natural gateway to the Caucasus and as a transportation hub at the East-West trade corridor.
As a leading and dynamic economy of the region, Azerbaijan is playing a significant role in “One Belt One Road” initiative. Our country is situated in the historic Silk Road and Azerbaijan is actively investing in modernization of infrastructure along this route, rehabilitating existing and building new train lines, highways, maritime and airports.
Azerbaijan is also actively engaged in the further development of the North-South transportation corridor that will enable transit of cargo from the Persian Gulf via Iran and Russia to Europe. Another corridor promoted by Azerbaijan is the South-West international transport route, whose purpose is to bridge India, Iran, Persian Gulf countries with Turkey and Europe. The potential for these trade corridors are immense.
Among the abovementioned projects contributing to the increased connectivity is the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway which will link trans-Europe and trans-Asian railway networks and will significantly contribute to a reliable and integrated railway connection between Europe and Asia.
Azerbaijan is also maintaining the largest commercial fleet in the Caspian Sea. A new shipyard completed at the Caspian port of Baku allows for the production of all types of vessels and will increase freight traffic in the Caspian Sea. Furthermore, we have put a lot of efforts in providing a favorable investment regime for foreign companies in trade-logistics sector through creating a Free Economic Zone around the new Baku Port situated at the heart of the East-West route. The objective of this Free Economic Zone is to increase the attractiveness of Azerbaijan as a regional trade-logistics hub.
All these projects where my country is participating both as critical en-route point and active investor will allow to substantively minimize time and costs for delivery of goods and services from a wide range of Asian markets to the Middle East, CIS countries and Europe and vise-versa. I believe that this might constitute a good working ground for upscaling the Pacific Alliance – Azerbaijan cooperation both on a multilateral and bilateral basis. In this connection, we are ready to engage in concrete work with the Cooperation Fund responsible for collecting the cooperation proposals with the Observer States.
Let me conclude by wishing every success to the new page in cooperation starting with Azerbaijan’s accession to the Alliance as observer, as well as to realization of the Strategic Vision 2030 of the Pacific Alliance, and to reiterate once again our readiness to cooperate with this esteemed organization for the benefit of our countries, regions, peoples and for development of the Global South at large.