Statement by Elmar Mammadyarov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, at the Informal Meeting of the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the BSEC Member States
New York, 23 September 2016
Dear Ministers and Heads of Delegations,
Ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of the delegation of the Republic of Azerbaijan, I am pleased to greet all participants and wish us fruitful deliberations.
Today`s meeting is yet another opportunity for sharing views on recent developments within the Organization as well as for reviewing activities implemented and works to be done in the light of the upcoming BSEC Summit dedicated to the 25th Anniversary of the Organization.
It is our firm belief that pursuing the path of consistent reforms within the Organization adds value to the ongoing debate on the necessity to raise the effectiveness and efficiency of the BSEC, enhance its legal and institutional capabilities.
In this context, we welcome the practice of informal meetings, where consolidation and improvement of the effectiveness of the organization is discussed. We hope that we will be able to achieve tangible results and progressive solutions to that end.
As one of the BSEC founding members, Azerbaijan realizes the important role that the BSEC plays in the region. We are genuinely interested in strengthening the effectiveness of the Organization. We support the BSEC reform process that should help it adapt to the changing realities of the global development agenda and better respond to the needs of its members. The overall reform process should lead to transforming the BSEC PERMIS into a strong professional executive body implementing the adopted decisions more effectively.
Azerbaijan, in cooperation with several BSEC Member States and international partners, contributes to the regional development by initiating and implementing large-scale energy and transportation projects.
We are interested in further strengthening the trans-regional connectivity and actively participate in the realization of International North-South and East-West Transport Corridors. In this regard, Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway link which is expected to be fully operational in 2017, connecting Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey with a new railway connection, have a strategic importance for the region and provide reliable link for the passenger and container shipping, increase the volume of multimodal transportation flows between Asia and Europe. We firmly believe that Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project and the new Baku International Sea Trade Port will create an intersection of rail, road and sea routes passing through the territory of Azerbaijan, which in its turn will contribute to the wider BSEC regional development.
The new Baku International Sea Trade Port Complex, as one of the perspective trade and logistics hub of the region, will play a key role in transportation of goods both by North-South and East-West transport corridors, contributing thus to the BSEC region and beyond, inter alia, by promoting regional trade.
Azerbaijan has initiated variety of significant energy projects of regional importance which in its turn established reliable and sustainable infrastructure in the BSEC area. Azerbaijan is and will remain committed to further development of energy cooperation in the region by realization of Southern Gas Corridor (SGC), a unique project which involves six BSEC Member States. Construction of Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) as one of its components is ongoing. This May the groundbreaking ceremony of another component of the SGC - Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) was successfully held in Thessaloniki.
Through that strategy Azerbaijan aims to intensify existing cooperation among BSEC Member States as well as to strengthen ties in and beyond the region contributing, thus, to the sustainable intra- and inter-regional development.
In spite of vast opportunities available in the context of regional cooperation, the challenges to peace and security are still among the impediments to the sustainable development of the region. The ongoing military aggression by neighboring Armenia against Azerbaijan and occupation of nearly 20% of its internationally-recognized territories, in blatant violation of international law and the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council continues to represent a serious threat to sustainable development and cooperation in the region.
Withdrawal of Armenian military forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan and ensuring the return of the refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes will not only contribute to peace and security in the South Caucasus but also enhance full-fledged cooperation in the BSEC region as a whole.