No:132/20, Statement by Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Elmar Mammadyarov at the Video-Teleconference Meeting of Eastern Partnership Ministers of Foreign Affairs
Statement by H.E. Elmar Mammadyarov
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan
Video-Teleconference Meeting of
Eastern Partnership Ministers of Foreign Affairs
11 June 2020
High Representative Borrell,
Our meeting takes place at a time when we are confronted with unprecedented challenges. I would like to extend my deep condolences to the families of those who passed away as a result of deadly pandemic. It is a very timely and extremely important meeting in the context of ongoing crises.
We are responding to the pandemic with decisive actions at domestic level. Strict quarantine measures have been coupled with channeling of significant public resources to strengthen the healthcare system, including commissioning 3 new hospitals in our 3 cities and building additional 7 modular-type hospitals. To mitigate economic and social impact of pandemic and the sharp drop in oil prices, the Government adopted the Extensive Package of Economic Assistance that equals to 4.3% of GDP. The basic-income support schemes covered more that 4.8 million citizens - nearly half of the population.
Private companies, NGOs and ordinary citizens joined hands with the Government by providing voluntary donations and this solidarity is heartwarming. These resources are directed to financing different activities ranging from awareness-raising to improving infrastructure and medical facilities. We also appreciate the EU assistance to Azerbaijan in supporting emergency response measures in the outbreak of pandemic.
The nature and scale of crisis is unparalleled. Economies, be it strong or weak, are intertwined and affected. This situation calls for all partners to come together, collaborate and support each other. With this in mind, Azerbaijan convened Extraordinary Summit of Turkic-speaking countries in order to exchange views on how to avoid supply chain disruptions and to ensure smooth movement of critical goods during the crisis. We are pleased to see that our partners in the EU recognize these measures, as they go hand-in-hand with the EU policy on facilitation of availability of goods and essential services.
For the first time ever, the EU was represented at a high level at the NAM Summit Contact Group convened upon the initiative of Azerbaijan. I thank Josep for joining us and for providing his valuable inputs to the Summit discussions. We have also proposed to convene a special session of the UN General Assembly and we invite everyone to support it.
Azerbaijan is also actively involved in response to the COVID crisis at a multilateral level and it has donated 5 million USD to World Health Organization's Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan. Later, Azerbaijan donated additional 5 million USD for 15 countries from Africa, Asia and Latin America. Also, we have extended bilateral assistance to 15 countries upon their request. Today, Azerbaijan is in the top list of the countries providing humanitarian assistance in the fight against COVID-19 and this testifies to our commitment to solidarity and cooperation.
The EU Joint Communication on the future of EaP places a strong focus on bilateral cooperation. Tailor made approach is a very policy which Azerbaijan seeks in its relations with the EU. It is a partnership based on equality and mutual respect. The success of the negotiations on a new bilateral agreement will depend on the flexibility of negotiating sides to find mutually acceptable solutions to the remaining issues.
On good governance, we welcome the EU’s support for resilient institutions, rule of law and fight against corruption through enhancing security dialogues with partner countries. After a successful 2nd Meeting of the EU-Azerbaijan Security Dialogue held in Baku last December we look forward to continued fruitful exchanges on emerging regional and international security threats.
On energy, Southern Gas Corridor is nearing a completion and it will be the most tangible deliverable of strengthened interconnectivity in EAP. We appreciate the responsible behavior of our partners in TAP in supporting the COVID fight of affected local communities and ensuring timely execution of the project.
The significance of the transport-logistics system of Azerbaijan is increasingly recognized for its strategic importance. Azerbaijan is working on EaP and Central Asia flanks. Together with other EaP countries within GUAM we are working to develop a transport corridor which will provide alternative route to Central Asia and beyond. We collaborate with the Central Asian countries also within the OSCE project “Promoting green ports and connectivity in the Caspian Sea region” and welcome the EU’s support to it. On the Eastern coast of Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan holds intensive dialogue with Turkmenistan and Afghanistan for materialization of the Lapis-Lazuli transport corridor. My country can play a critical role in implementation of the EU strategy and we are ready to assume this role. We do hope that extension of our strategic cooperation in the field of energy to the field of transport-logistics will be an important contribution to strengthening of EU-Azerbaijan partnership.
We believe that future EU-Azerbaijan cooperation will also contribute to the realization of the national development priorities. Azerbaijan continues to pursue the strategic development agenda aimed at accelerating economic diversification, fostering inclusive growth and supporting post-COVID economic recovery. Infrastructure is critical to meeting the needs of diversified economy and our investments are complemented by industrial parks, special economic zone, laws and regulations, financial services and IT. Promotion of innovation, IT and high technologies are our cross-cutting objectives. These all require renewed focus to human capital and quality education, training professionals, especially medical staff and we invite the EU to support our ongoing efforts.
The presence of Armenian armed forces in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan remains the biggest security threat in the region. Despite the UN Secretary-General’s and High Representative J. Borell’s appeal for global ceasefire, the Armenian armed forced continue to violate the ceasefire regime and makes every effort to escalate tension and derail the political settlement of the conflict. Armenia bills itself as “democracy” and yet continues to violate human rights of hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis forcibly expelled from their homelands. While the entire world is mobilized to fight COVID, Armenia organized the so-called “election” and the so-called “inauguration” in the occupied territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan. By refusing to negotiate and to comply with the demands of the UN Security Council Resolutions, Armenia obstructs the settlement of the process. Thus, Armenia undermines the very fundamentals of the Eastern Partnership, namely stability and prosperity.
As stated in the recent EU Council Conclusions the fundamentals of EaP are anchored in our shared commitment to a rule-based international order, international law, including territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty of partner countries. We are in solidarity with the EU to promote these principles in our bilateral and multilateral cooperation.