By Vafa Ismayilova
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and visiting UK Minister for European Neighbourhood and the Americas Wendy Morton have discussed bilateral ties, the regional peace and stability at a meeting in Baku.
“Delighted to meet President Ilham Aliyev today to reaffirm our close ties and our shared commitment to peace and stability in the Caucasus region. Our countries are long-standing energy partners and we are ready to support Azerbaijan’s transition to renewable energy,” Morton said on her official Twitter account on February 9.
Morton arrived in Baku for a two-day official visit on February 8, 2021, to attend the annual UK-Azerbaijan Strategic Dialogue Summit. The visit seeks to strengthen the relationship between the UK and Azerbaijan around areas of cooperation in green energy and tackling climate change, as well as advancing the rights of women and countering gender-based violence.
Meanwhile, Trend reported about the start of a bilateral meeting between Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov and UK Minister for European Neighborhood and the Americas Wendy Morton within her working visit to Azerbaijan.
Earlier, Morton wrote on her Twitter page that "as the first UK Foreign and Development Minister to visit Azerbaijan, I will be working closely with the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry to advance women’s rights - ensuring they have more opportunities in business and politics and can be safe from violence”.
The visiting minister highly assessed the fact that Azerbaijan has a National Action Plan to tackle domestic violence.
"I was humbled to meet survivors of domestic abuse today and hear their stories. Gender-based violence is a huge global issue. Excellent that Azerbaijan has a National Action Plan to tackle domestic violence," Morton said on her official Twitter page on February 8.
Morton added that as part of her visit to Baku she is “working with ministers, MPs and activists to promote women’s rights and ensure that women’s perspectives are heard at all levels”.
The UK minister stressed that it is “fantastic that women achieved universal suffrage in Azerbaijani nine years before the UK. But there is still a lot to do to achieve equality”.
The UK minister also expressed satisfaction with her meetings with the human rights champions in Baku.
“Respect for human rights and a free press is the foundation of a thriving society and democracy. It was a pleasure to meet the inspiring leaders who are standing up for human rights and defending media freedom in Azerbaijan and I reiterated the UK’s strong support for their work,” she wrote on Twitter.
As part of her visit, Wendy met Azerbaijani Parliament Speaker Sahiba Gafarova on February 8, UK’s ambassador to Azerbaijan James Sharp wrote on his Twitter page.
The issues related to domestic violence against women, the Istanbul Convention on combating this phenomenon and other topics were discussed during the meeting.
As part of the two-day visit, Morton visited the Old Town area in Azerbaijani Baku.
“Wonderful visit to the Old Town area of beautiful Baku on the Caspian. Azerbaijan has a rich heritage and I have had a fascinating time at the Prince of Wales’ School for Traditional Arts which supports future generations of artists and preserves Azerbaijan’s ancient culture,” she wrote.
Further meetings with local senior officials
Local news sources earlier reported, quoting Morton that the "two countries share strong links between our people, cultures and in education. I look forward to meeting President Aliyev and his government to discuss further areas of cooperation, as Azerbaijan embraces renewable energy and builds back greener following Covid-19 and the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh".
She added that "the UK has been a strong global advocate for women’s rights and I also looking forward to meeting inspiring female leaders who are advancing women’s rights in Azerbaijan and working to combat domestic abuse”.
“The UK is working closely with Azerbaijan on its first National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security to encourage the government of Azerbaijan to strengthen women’s legal rights by signing up to the Istanbul Convention.”
As part of the visit, Morton will also meet the ecology and natural resources and energy ministers to discuss how the UK can work with Azerbaijan to transition to renewable energy and achieve a significant greenhouse gas emissions reduction ahead of COP26 in Glasgow in November.
Minister Morton will meet with the education minister to discuss the positive impact that the British Council is making to lives of young people through their English language programmes and attend the British Council’s UK Alumni Awards to meet graduates of leading UK institutions in Azerbaijan, local news sources reported earlier.
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