Statement by Chargé d’Affaires Ruslan Nasibov
28 May – Independence Day
Monday, 30 May, 2022, Ethiopian Skylight Hotel, Addis Ababa
Your Excellency, Mr. Eshete Tilahun, Director General for Europe and America of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia,
Excellencies, Members of Parliament, Distinguished Guests
I am honored to welcome you today to the Celebration of the 28 May – Independence Day. On that day, 104 years ago Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was established, becoming the first parliamentary democracy in the Muslim world, the first country in the Muslim world and European continent that granted universal suffrage to women as early as in 1918.
Our rapid economic development after restoration of the state independence on October 18, 1991 helped us transform the country. In the last twenty years the level of poverty in the country dropped to less than 6 percent, economy grew more than three times, more than 260 billion USD have been invested into the country. With population reaching 10,2 million people, foreign currency reserves hit the mark of 53 billion USD, more than five-fold higher than our foreign debt. In terms of quality of infrastructure, Azerbaijan is ahead of some developed states. Many of you might have watched spectacular and dramatic Baku city races of Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, next round of which is kicking off in a few days.
Using our geographical location we invest in building bridges between Asia and Europe. Despite being a landlocked country, Azerbaijan turned into one of the international transportation hubs. We have built diversified railroad network connecting us with our neighbors and seven international airports with five star Heydar Aliyev International Airport. One of them Fuzuli International Airport in the liberated territories was constructed from scratch and commissioned in just 8 months. Two more airports in the liberated territories are coming up. We continue re-shaping Eurasia’s transportation map.
Azerbaijan’s vast oil and gas reserves and its role in energy security is already known. We have also built multiple pipelines to transport our oil and gas to international markets. Among largest transnational energy transportation projects are Baku-Tbilisi-Jeyhan oil pipeline, Southern Gas Corridor, running from Azerbaijan through Georgia and Turkey to Europe up to Italy. Nowadays, relevance and importance of diversified energy supplies are drastically increasing from day-to-day. Azerbaijan has become an indispensable partner for Europe and a regional hub connecting countries and continents. Referring to a famous saying “all roads lead to Rome”, today we may say that before “all roads run through Azerbaijan”.
Coming to peace and security, I would like to mention that as a result of 44-day Patriotic War in autumn 2020 the military conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan was solved through political and military means and Azerbaijan restored its territorial integrity. It was a triumph of international law and justice against lawlessness and threat to international order. 44-day war ended the occupation of Azerbaijan’s territory, created opportunities for ensuring a regional peace, security and cooperation, opening of transportation corridors and developing of economic relations. Objective of Azerbaijan is a re-integration of all citizens affected by conflict based on equality and regardless of their ethnic, religious and other affiliations. President of the Republic of Azerbaijan H.E. Mr. Ilham Aliyev repeatedly expressed a vision of normalization and formation of good neighborhood. Azerbaijan is ready to normalize relations with Armenia on the basis of strict observance of the principles of the international law, particular sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of international borders. For future peace and stability in the region it is important to fully implement trilateral statements signed on 10 November 2020, 11 January and 26 November 2021 by the leaders of Azerbaijan, Russia and Armenia. We also welcome recent EU initiatives in this regard.
The Government of Azerbaijan is carrying out restoration and reconstruction works in the liberated territories and taking consistent steps to ensure the safe and dignified return of nearly one million of displaced Azerbaijanis, as well as reintegration of these lands. The major challenge that hinders reconstruction works is that those territories are heavily contaminated by mines planted by then occupying Armenian forces. Armenia, not voluntarily but under pressure (!), provided maps of mine fields with accuracy of only 25%.
The reconstruction works in the liberated territories are being conducted based on the concepts of “smart cities” with “smart villages” and green energy and that process is open for other countries to join.
As Chair of the Non-Aligned Movement, Azerbaijan continues its active efforts and putting forward various initiatives to make the NAM stronger and united and its voice heard and respected, namely, online Summit of the NAM Contact Group and UN General Assembly Special Session in response to COVID-19, adoption of resolutions within the UN on ensuring equal, timely, affordable and universal access to COVID-19 vaccines, establishment of the NAM Parliamentary and Youth Networks. The Member States requested Azerbaijan to chair the Movement for an additional year, considering its successful chairmanship. Azerbaijan appreciates trust of the NAM Member States and is thankful for their support to and firm solidarity with the just position of Azerbaijan in the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict before and during the 44-day war. As the incumbent Chairmanship of the Movement, Azerbaijan has identified the African continent as one of its priority regions to focus on during its tenure.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In 2022 Azerbaijan also celebrates 270th anniversary of Shusha city. President of Azerbaijan H.E. Mr. Ilham Aliyev declared 2022 “Year of Shusha”. The city was founded back in 1752 by Azerbaijani Panakhali Khan. It is a cultural capital of Azerbaijan and has a sacred significance for each Azerbaijani around the globe. Being a crown of Azerbaijan’s Karabakh region, it was liberated from Armenian Armed Forces on 8th of November 2020 thereby marking the end of the 44-day Patriotic War. The city of Shusha – the ancient cradle of Azerbaijani culture and entire Turkic world – was also declared Cultural Capital of the Turkic World 2023 by the International Organization of Turkic Culture called TURKSOY. It is noteworthy to mention that the Declaration on Allied Relations between Azerbaijan and Türkiye was signed in Shusha city on 15 June 2021.
Bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and Ethiopia since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1992 develop dynamically. We are friendly countries. Later this year we mark 30th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between our two states. Embassy of Azerbaijan in Addis Ababa started functioning in the end of 2014. Our relations have a historical background dated back to medieval and continued through 20th century during the Soviet period when leaders and well-known cultural figures paid mutual visits. Azerbaijan’s universities became alma mater for almost 800 Ethiopians out of 8000 African students who received education in our country during the said period. Since 2000s Azerbaijan re-started extending scholarships to African countries and Ethiopia in particular.
We had a number of high-level visits before COVID-19 pandemic and will continue same pace in the post-pandemic period. We have strong potential to practically develop our bilaterals spanning from political, economic to social and humanitarian fields including crucial areas like public service delivery.
We look towards future with strong confidence, are ready for any geopolitical turbulence and will continue setting patterns for development and achievements in different fields.
Ethiopia Lezelalem Tinur
Azerbaijan Lezelalem Tinur
Ye Azerbaijan ena Ye Ethiopia wedajinet Lezelalem Yinur