Ladies and Gentlemen
I would like to express my gratitude to the Lithuanian Foreign Minister H.E. Audronius Ažubalis and his team for the warm hospitality and excellent organization of the Ministerial Council meeting. I congratulate H.E. Minister Eamon Gilmore as the incoming OSCE Chairman-in-Office and wish him every success in his work.
Azerbaijan approaches the OSCE as the only comprehensive and inclusive regional security arrangement where we participate as a full-fledged member. We believe that this Organization is uniquely suited to promote open dialogue among the participating States, settle conflicts on their territories and foster cooperation on security issues based on agreed principles, shared values and commitments. The Organization should follow its core principle of indivisibility of security and avoid division into separate security communities. The security of each of the participating State is inseparably linked to that of all others. This is affirmative declaration of our security community.
While promoting the OSCE principles we have to take vigorous actions for developing the Organization’s capabilities in the areas of early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management, including fact-finding, rapporteur missions and OSCE police and peacekeeping operations, and conflict resolution, based on the OSCE mandate specified in the Chapter III of the Helsinki Document of 1992 and Budapest Document of 1994.
Despite the fact that we have experienced enormous hardships in the first years of its independence, nowadays Azerbaijan is recognized as a reliable partner, for last several years is consistently demonstrating one of the highest economic growth indicators in the world and has transformed from the recipient to the security provider. Within the last five years we managed to triple our GDP and almost ten times increased our budget.
Azerbaijan is ready to share its positive experience and available expertise in different areas of security related cooperation within OSCE, including energy security, mine action, fighting terrorism, organized crime and drugs trafficking, and contributing to the security, stability and development in Afghanistan.
Azerbaijan, as a young democracy, remains fully committed to continue advancing respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, ensuring the rule of law and promoting market reforms in the country. We firmly believe that these efforts would strengthen comprehensive development and further integration of Azerbaijan into the world family of democracies.
Azerbaijan is playing a determining role for the future of the South Caucasus region and, being one of the key contributors to the European energy security and promoter of major trans-regional projects, is rightful in expecting that threats to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan will be addressed not only in the context of security of Azerbaijan and South Caucasus, but in a more wider context of European security, stability and development.
Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict impedes overall development of the South Caucasus and undermines long-term stability and security in the OSCE region.
The peace process is at a very important juncture. We believe that continuation of the status quo creates uncertain and unpredictable security environment in the region. The Presidents of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chair countries have explicitly declared that the status-quo in the region is unacceptable. The last proposal, namely updated Madrid Principles drafted by all three co-chair countries has been submitted to the sides, on which Azerbaijan has declared its readiness to continue further on the negotiations, including to start drafting of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Unfortunately, Armenia rejected this proposal.
The progress of the negotiation efforts depends on whether Armenia is sincerely willing to change the existing today status quo for reaching durable peace, security and sustainable development not only in the region, but as well as in its own country. The biggest responsibility that today in the conflict settlement we are challenged is rebuilding trust between Armenia and Azerbaijan. To achieve it we have to channel a lot of appropriate efforts.
Having around 1 million refugees and IDPs and with almost 20% of the territories of Azerbaijan under Armenian occupation it is uneasy task. We believe that one of the steps in this direction could be establishing more direct contacts and arranging meetings between Azerbaijani and Armenian communities of the Nagorno-Karabakh region. More people-to-people contacts could create different atmosphere in this stand off.
Good neighbourhood is one of the pillars of good development. Armenia with occupation of territories of Azerbaijan has brought additional high-rocketing military expenditures in its budget that impacted political, social and economic life inside of this country. One can imagine what opportunities will be open in the region as soon as Armenia starts gradual withdrawal from the Azerbaijani lands. Rehabilitation of the conflict affected territories, restoration of the disrupted communications, opening of economic and business opportunities, investments, increase of trade and most importantly creating predictable and secure environment will lead to win-win situation.
Azerbaijan stands ready to make necessary compromises within the universally accepted norms and principles of international law as it is enshrined in the founding document of our Organization – Helsinki Final Act. Azerbaijani and Armenian communities living side by side in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan accommodate all relevant rights and freedoms fitting in the framework of the self-rule.
Next year will mark the 20th anniversary of negotiations under the mediation of the OSCE Minsk Group and, unfortunately, no significant progress has been registered yet. The people of Azerbaijan still bear hope that the Armenian people will realize the benefits of durable and lasting solution of the conflict. This will open real perspectives for regional cooperation and overall development of the entire South Caucasus.
At the end, I would like on behalf of my country to extend our support to the candidatures of Switzerland and Serbia for the Chairmanship-in-Office respectively in 2014 and 2015.