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INTERVIEW: Azerbaijan's Foriegn Minister on the eve of official visit to Egypt

Ahram Online , Monday 31 Oct 2016
FM Elmar Mammadyarov
File Photo: Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov (Photo: Reuters)
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Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov is set to begin an official visit to Egypt on Tuesday, where he will meet with Egyptian officials to discuss bilateral relations and regional issues.

Mammadyarov will be accompanied by an official delegation, including the Head of Azerbaijan's state oil company.

On the eve of the visit Al-Ahram Agency interviewed Mr Mammadyarov to discuss the focus of his visit.

Would you shed light on bilateral relations and the current level of cooperation between Egypt and Azerbaijan?

Azerbaijan and Egypt established bilateral relations 25 years ago after the restoration of independence in Azerbaijan. Since then, we have enjoyed good relations as our countries share similar religious, cultural, traditional and social links.

In 1993 the Embassy of Egypt opened in Baku, while Azerbaijan’s first ever Embassy in the African continent was established in Cairo in 1994.

Currently, the cooperation between the two countries extends to almost every sphere, ranging from political relations to economics, tourism, energy, education, cultural and humanitarian issues.

The two countries have great potential for cooperation in pharmaceuticals, tourism, textile-garment, ICT, agriculture and manufacturing. Direct air routes would also contribute to promoting trade, tourism and people-to-people exchanges.

At the governmental level, the joint inter-governmental commission provides the platform to review and streamline all aspects of our relations; we are looking forward to the next meeting of the inter-governmental commission, which is expected to be held in November.

With more than 40 signed agreements the legislative base of our relations is substantially wide and it provides the legal framework for consolidating our cooperation.

Also our Parliamentary friendship groups are carrying out tangible contributions to our comprehensive cooperation.

As part of our humanitarian agenda, student exchanges and cultural projects should be especially highlighted, as academic and student exchange is taking place on continuous basis.

I remain more than reassured that our mutually beneficial cooperation will continue to grow for the benefit of our countries and peoples, through our joint efforts.

Our relations in the bilateral and multilateral areas, particularly our cooperation in the energy field will be on the agenda during my visit to Egypt.

What are Azerbaijan’s political stances on Egypt’s efforts as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council?

Our countries share similar stances on the fundamental issues on the international agenda, in this context, Azerbaijan has supported the nomination of Egypt for the non-permanent seat of the United Nations.

Azerbaijan has also obtained the support of 155 UN Member States, including Egypt , in running for a UNSC non-permanent seat in 2012-2013.

Along with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Azerbaijan’s membership in the non-aligned movement and status as an observer state in the Arab League and the African Union, all gave us additional platforms for the exchange of views and collaboration with Egypt.

What is Baku's stance on the situation in Syria and efforts to end conflict in the country?

We fully understand and share the concerns of the international community regarding the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Syria.

Azerbaijan, by virtue of its capabilities, tries to contribute to humanitarian aid efforts to alleviate the situation of Syrian refugees via international institutions.

Baku has repeatedly stated that reaching a ceasefire and halting of hostilities should be ensured to ease the humanitarian crises mainly affecting children, women and elders.

Afterwards, an inclusive political process has to be started to find a political solution according to the will of all Syrian people. The territorial integrity and political unity of Syria has to be guaranteed and safeguarded.

As an Islamic country, how does Azerbaijan evaluate the efforts of international community to fight terrorism and the growing problem of Islamaphobia?

As Azerbaijan strongly condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, we are seriously concerned also with linking the noble religion of Islam with terrorism.

It is imperative to take all necessary measures to confront the threats and challenges posed by terrorism, as well as to address its root causes, which include prolonged armed conflicts, illiteracy and social exclusion.

Only our joint and concerted efforts coupled with our solidarity can suppress and prevent these acts, which continue to claim the lives of innocent people.

Furthermore, we need to consolidate our efforts within the UN and other international platforms to prevent this danger.

Could you update us on Azerbaijan’s contribution to the Dialogue of Civilisations? Can you also talk about the upcoming Islamic Games that Azerbaijan is set to host?

Our country believes that peace and security is achievable through education, science, culture and dialogue. Hence, Azerbaijan has transformed into a hub of events fostering dialogue between cultures and civilisations such as the 7th Global Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations and the World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue.

Last month we hosted the Baku International Humanitarian Forum which included panels on a wide range of global issues, with the participation of globally renowned guests such as the late Nobel Prize laureate in Chemistry Ahmed Zewail.

Following the First European Games, which Azerbaijan hosted in 2015, we strongly believe that Islamic Solidarity Games will also serve to raise solidarity, peace dialogue and understanding.

We are also honoured to host the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games in Baku next year.

Could you elaborate on the current status of negotiations towards the resolution of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict?

Armenia continues to occupy the territories of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven adjacent districts, in flagrant violation of international law and resolutions 822, 853, 874 and 884 adopted in 1993 by the United Nations Security Council.

The Republic of Azerbaijan has made it clear on numerous occasions that the unlawful presence of the armed forces of Armenia in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan is the major destabilizing factor with the potential for escalation at any time, causing many tensions in the zone.

In total disregard of the demands of the UN Security Council and in violation of international law, Armenia disrupts any attempt to settle the conflict by peaceful means.

Armenia's refusal to withdraw its troops from Azerbaijan is preventing hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijani forcibly displaced persons from returning to their homes.

In early April this year, Armenia conducted large-scale attacks on civilian sites in Azerbaijan.

The sooner Armenia considers the withdrawal of its armed forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, the earlier the conflict will be resolved and Armenia and its population will benefit from the prospects for cooperation and economic development.

We are thankful to Egypt as part of the international community for its firm position supporting the territorial sovereignty of Azerbaijan and the settlement of the conflict according to the UN Security Council resolutions.
 

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