By Vafa Ismayilova
Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov has said that Azerbaijan is ready for deeper cooperation with its partners in the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) to build common prosperous future after the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement.
Bayramov made the remarks at the 42nd meeting of the Council of Ministers of BSEC member states’ foreign ministers on 27 November.
“There is so much that Azerbaijan can offer and already offers to all its partners. Our initiatives which bring together BSEC Member States and enable to build a shared prosperous future are the best examples of our interest and capacity to expand and deepen regional cooperation. We are ready for future collaboration,” Bayramov said.
The minister said that as reflected in a joint statement by the Azerbaijani, Armenian and Russian leaders on the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, all economic and transport links in the region are unblocked.
“It means that a vital independent land corridor can now become operational enabling our region to strengthen its role in trade between Asia and Europe…Only with shared commitment and full compliance with the international obligations, particularly those relating to respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States and inviolability of their internationally recognized borders, we can achieve peaceful, prosperous and stable future,” Bayramov said.
The minister noted that conflicts, prolonged foreign occupation and the lack of accountability endanger peace and security and that they also hamper regional cooperation.
“It is my pleasure to inform the Council that the Statement signed on November 9 by the President of Azerbaijan, President of Russia and Prime Minister of Armenia opened a new page in the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Armenia is withdrawing its armed forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is restoring its territorial integrity and sovereignty. The peacekeeping force is being deployed and the joint ceasefire monitoring centre is being established in the former conflict zone,” he added.
Bayramov reiterated that “we are entering a new stage, a stage of reconstruction and rehabilitation, a stage of restoration of peaceful co-existence. New opportunities for development and cooperation are emerging and BSEC should assess and take advantage of the new realities”.
The minister added that BSEC was established to transform the Black Sea into the region of peace, stability and prosperity with a shared vision of the future and through mutual cooperation.
“BSEC has become an important platform to enhance opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation in areas such as trade, energy, transport, tourism, just to name a few,” he said.
Bayramov detailed Azerbaijan’s contribution to strengthening cooperation within the organization.
“On its part, Azerbaijan has been continuously working towards strengthening and facilitating the regional cooperation. My country plays an active role in boosting the Caspian Sea – Black Sea cooperation through concrete initiatives. Energy, transport, ICT, trade and SMEs are among our key priorities and we look forward to deepening our collaboration in the BSEC's related and sectorial bodies and affiliated organizations. We do hope that Albania, as the next Chairman in Office will promote cooperation through result oriented efforts,” he stressed.
Bayramov called on for further joint work in fostering better connectivity in the wider Black Sea region through improved infrastructure and better connected transport corridors.
“In this context, it is important to redouble efforts to facilitate transit, digitalize the operations and eliminate the regulatory and procedural barriers to transport and trade. Through the backbone railway line Baku-Tbilisi-Kars, Baku International Sea Trade Port, along with an ambitious investor-friendly Alat Free Economic Zone, Azerbaijan continues its practical contribution to the development of the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, Lapis Lazuli transport route, as well as, North-South, South-West and North-West trade routes, aimed at increasing transit capacity of the entire region,” he added.
The minister reiterated that the start of commercial operations through the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline four and half years after the inauguration of construction work allows the country to build on the success of the Southern Gas Corridor.
“We are closely working with the EU in order to extend gas supply geography. This project, which brings several BSEC Member States together, not just enhances the energy security, but it will also play a critical role in transition to a net-zero emission energy system in Europe,” he said.
Speaking about many encouraging important initiatives that had been announced, the minister stressed that even greater cooperation is fundamental to ensuring these initiatives produce practical results to the benefit peoples of BSEC member states.
“By facilitating interaction within various working groups and boosting sectoral and public-private cooperation, BSEC can help the Member States to tackle the multiple effects of the COVID crisis and to build back better,” he noted.
Bayramov added that the COVID-19 pandemic continued to inflict economic losses.
“It also offers an opportunity to foster regional trade, promote private sector and support resilient growth. With a renewed focus on trade, investment and growth, we can contribute to a swift and sustainable socio-economic recovery in the BSEC region,” he said.
Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz