‘Attempts to interfere into domestic and foreign policy of Azerbaijan is no good as such attempts will be not effective’
Chief of the Presidential Administration’s department for socio-economic affairs Ali Hasanov`s interview to AzerTAc

- In an interview to the Liberty radio, US ambassador to Azerbaijan Richard Morningstar voiced some negative ideas about the state of democracy in Azerbaijan, country’s domestic and foreign policy. We would like to know your opinion on this.

- First of all, I would like note that Azerbaijan and USA have had good relations for over the past 20 years. Our relations are quite stable even today, and our cooperation was upgraded to the level of strategic partnership in some fields. Energy security, transnational transportation and corridor policy, fight against terrorism, joint participation in international peacemaking operations etc are high on the agenda of the bilateral partnership. We cooperate intensively with the friends and partners, whole world including USA in line with international legal norms and on the basis of the mutual trust, fruitful and effective cooperation and non-interference in internal affairs. Azerbaijan fulfills its tasks responsibly as a partner and implements international commitments to the end.

Azerbaijan is also a state, which does not depend on anybody and pursues a completely independent policy. Our country has its role and place in the system of international relations. The policy pursued by President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev over the 10 years helped to cement independence, ensure national interests and heighten the international prestige of the country. I believe that the attempt of either USA, or any other great power and international organization to interfere in international affairs of Azerbaijan in any form, rule the country, and “teach the country how to live” is no good. I think that these attempts will fail.

As far the mentioned interview of Mr. Morningstar, I can say that his ideas are not in line with the present spirit of US-Azerbaijan relations and do not meet the requirements of the 1961 Vienna convention on Diplomatic Relations. Under the convention, diplomats of foreign countries have to respect laws and public life norms of countries they work in and must not interfere in their internal affairs. The major goal of the diplomatic mission is to support friendly relations between its state and the country it operates in, assist in development of social, economic, cultural relations between peoples. Unfortunately, Mr. Morningstar violated these requirements with his statements to some extent.

- The country`s media paid much attention to this non-diplomatic and surprising rhetoric. Some his claims are understood as the interference in domestic affairs of Azerbaijan. What can you say about this?

- I believe the attempts to make biased comments on the domestic and foreign policy of Azerbaijan, use unacceptable rhetoric, make classification within the government of the independent state, and make the other country accept interests of his state can not be considered an example of professional diplomacy, of course.

Some claims raised in the interview of Morningstar are similar to those reflected in the reports of some foreign NGOs who have taken anti-Azerbaijani positions for many years under the influence of the Armenian Diaspora. This coincidence makes us very much concerned.

The developments involving USA and West that are taking place around the world today do seem logical to not only us but also the whole world. The “Maydan” processes taking place in Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Ukraine and other countries put an end to existing progressive principles in the modern international relations system.

Unconstitutional change of government with the use of force and its grave consequences such as socio-political instability, internal confrontation, ignition of civil war, the economic slowdown and increasing social disaster are the tragedy of these peoples rather than democratic changes as all Mr. ambassador says. If some external forces wish the same developments to take place in Azerbaijan, they will be very disappointed. As to allegations on the government of Azerbaijan`s being not united, it is nothing but Mr. Ambassador’s personal judgment. The government in Azerbaijan was formed in line with the people’s will, and, irrespective of who and how treats it, the united team pursues, under the leadership of the President Ilham Aliyev, the principled, deliberate policy directed at dynamic development of the country, protection of national interests, increase in social welfare of population etc. The domestic and foreign policy of Azerbaijan is implemented not in a manner brought in line with wishes and desire of some circles but taking account of national interest. Azerbaijan is the country, which relies on its geographic and geopolitical position, national interests and identity of people and has a unique policy meeting present realities and its own way of development. The principled, consistent and purposeful policy of this country will continue from now on.

- The interview says if the government does not want to see anything happen here like what happened in Ukraine, it must increase attention to the human rights and democracy…

- I think it is impossible to achieve any logical result with one postulate only. First, notwithstanding allegations of some “human rights activists”, civil society institutions, press and free media do not feel any pressure. Hundreds of NGOs, media outlets in the country are free to work and even receive assistance from the government to do their job. There is a completely free internet, which many countries can envy. As far as some initiatives of respective state bodies in this direction, their steps to enforce laws, their activity first of all helps to create discipline in the country, ensure transparency, which is considered the requirement of democracy itself. Presently, everyone in Azerbaijan like in any other democracy society, is equal before the law irrespective of the profession and position. If any citizen violates law, commits a crime, he must be ready to bear responsibility for this.

Second, some western countries impose restrictions towards freedom of assembly from the practical and legislative points of view, demonstrations and protests are prevented with force. There are hundreds of facts associated with creation of obstacles to the media representatives, shutdown of media outlets, whose activity does not meet interests of the government, arrest, crackdown on journalists for the defamation facts, phone-tapping and monitoring of internet correspondence, internet restrictions etc. However, we do not consider this as an antidemocratic trend in these countries and believe that generalization of certain minor facts and portraying it as a political course of a state is just a methodology. Unfortunately, we do not see the adequate attitude of the west to Azerbaijan.

Third, I believe that it is necessary to openly show the difference between the desires to help develop civil society in Azerbaijan unselfishly and without any other intention, and purposeful activity, which drastically contradicts it. In order to apply democratic standards more intensely, for reliable protection of human rights and freedoms, develop civil society institutions, Azerbaijan closely cooperates with such respected international organizations as Council of Europe, OSCE, European Union and others, implements joint projects. Unfortunately, some foreign circles get a grip of, illegally finance the political parties, non-governmental organizations and media in Azerbaijan and try to direct them in line with their own will and against our national interests. The major mission of such structures acting on the concrete instructions is to blacken international image of our state, shape a negative opinion on it, lay the ground for the anti-Azerbaijani campaign of foreign circles they are serving and support it. The Azerbaijani society has enough information about them and their activity. Therefore, our society has never taken them seriously, has never accepted “reports” of some foreign circles prepared on the basis of information of these structures as well as subjective pretensions.

There have recently been media reports on the activity of the organization called “Institute of Peace and Democracy”. It turned out now that some funds in the West transferred millions to the accounts of such unregistered organizations. What the purpose of these funds? How are they spent? We do not have any information. The Azerbaijani laws require that transparency be ensured in this field, and when respective bodies begin to take steps in this direction, international masterminds start working with allegations on the pressure ostensibly put on the institutions of civil society. The activity of the head of the Baku office of the US National Democratic Institute Alex Grigorievs can be indicated as another example. This organization has spent a large amount of money on forming the youth radical protest group and organizing its illegal activity. Respective state agencies did not receive any information about these funds and even now this issue remains as clear as mud. Of course, when “Molotov cocktails” were discovered in the houses of some youngsters, the government had to undertake serous measures. Afterwards, hysterical statements of some western circles and politicized human rights organizations influenced by these circles were not long in coming. We are aware of such a tactics of using artificially and purposefully radicalized, uncontrollable mass, in particular, youth, under the banner of the institutes of civil society, which was many times tested in various countries. The Maydan movement in Ukraine is also a project of some international forces, which are directly responsible for what is going on currently in this country – civil confrontation, chaos and anarchy, split of the country. If these circles want the similar processes to take place in Azerbaijan, our duty is to prevent this. The Azerbaijani government is ready to adequately respond to any step threatening security of the state and no hysterical statement, irrelevant rhetoric can shake the will of the state.

- Ambassador Morningstar also spoke about threats posed by some regional states to Azerbaijan. Are these threats for real? Or do these thoughts of the ambassador serve the other goal?

- Except for Armenia, Azerbaijan has good friendly and partnership relations with all the states in the region. The only state in the region, which threatens the region security and pursued overt aggressive policy, is Armenia. Unfortunately, the US ambassador to Azerbaijan does not speak about this real threat and make way for various rumors about neighbors of Azerbaijan instead. This trend is not new and from time to time some officials and media of the West tried to harm relations of Azerbaijan with big powers of the region through various allegations, unfounded conclusions and reports. And today, people wonder what serious threat exists to the independence of Azerbaijan, if the US ambassador talks about “speaking up for Azerbaijan sovereignty and independence”. We have to openly confess that the main reason of misunderstandings, which existed up to this point in the Iran-Azerbaijan relations, was the misinformation deliberately “leaked” in media. However, these misunderstandings were resolved during President Ilham Aliyev`s visit to Iran and the bilateral ties stepped into the new stage of development. Today, Azerbaijan`s relations with all the countries of the region are well developed, and such allegations cannot harm the spirit of the existing cooperation.

- Also worrying are the thoughts of the US Minsk Group co-chair James Warlick and US Ambassador Morningstar associated with resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. At least, this is because US take different stands with respect to the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute and other similar problems. What is the reason?

- President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev reiterated on this issue and very strongly condemned existing double standards. Indeed, USA unequivocally condemned the fact of occupation with respect to the similar conflicts in the post-soviet area, talk about international law, principle of territorial integrity. But in resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, they recall the principle of “self-determination of nations” along with the territorial integrity. Neither Warlick nor Morningstar speak directly about the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan confirmed by the UN and OSCE in 1992. They only touch upon return of the 7 occupied regions. They want to suggest an idea that the future status of Nagorno-Karabakh will be determined not in line with the international law but through talks. I wonder why? Doesn’t USA consider Nagorno-Karabakh territory of Azerbaijan? How we can then understand the statements made by top US officials over the past 20 years that “US recognize and support territorial integrity of Azerbaijan”? What is the reason of this contradiction? It turns out that international community condemn facts of aggression and occupation in other cases, raise claims, impose economic sanctions, if needed, use force whereas with respect to the Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia issue they say they parties should come to an agreement by themselves and the international community will support it. To what agreement an aggressor and victim of aggression can come on the basis of international law?! It would be good for Warlick and ambassador Morningstar to speak about other issues. For example, why does USA allocate hundreds of million dollars to Nagorno-Karabakh and aggressive Armenia? On what the funds worth USD 2 billion allocated by the USA to the aggressive state and separatist regime was spent? Why does this self-proclaimed regime have its representation in the USA? Why do they allow the heads of the terrorist regime to conduct campaigns in the USA raising millions of dollars? What real steps have the USA taken so fa far as Minsk Group co-chair to solve the conflict?

None of these questions has been answered accurately and appropriately so far. The Azerbaijani society got tired of the same words and double standards and does not believes in sincerity of makers of this statement. The Azerbaijani society has its own opinion that political structures ruling the country or aspiring to take power tend to think more of next elections and, that is why, sacrifice strategic interests of their country to the interests of the Armenian lobby.

- Can the ambassador’s statement have a negative effect on the US-Azerbaijan relations?

- The strategic interests of Azerbaijan and USA, friendly relations between our countries and peoples require that partnership should develop. This is possible only if there is an atmosphere of mutual trust and sincere behavior, refusal from unnecessary steps, interference in domestic affairs of each other, in case of making a real contribution to the development of the bilateral ties. In its foreign policy, relations with all friends, Azerbaijan considers these principles as the major criterion and expects the adequate attitude from its partners. We believe that all the US officials including ambassador Morningstar should take account of these realties and refrain from unobjective and unfounded allegations, rhetoric which are not in compliance with the spirit of bilateral relations.

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