Baku, December 22, AZERTAC
Azerbaijan has continued its successful foreign policy under President Ilham Aliyev`s leadership this year too. The head of state pays constant attention to foreign policy issues, defines priority tasks facing our diplomacy, and ensures their planned and continued implementation. Not every state on the world map is able to pursue an independent foreign policy like Azerbaijan.
AZERTAC presents an article headlined "Strategic diplomacy pursued by President Ilham Aliyev and achievements of our foreign policy" by head of the Department of Foreign Policy Affairs of the Azerbaijani Presidential Administration Hikmat Hajiyev.
Addressing the January 2018 meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers dedicated to results of socio-economic development of 2017 and objectives for future, President Ilham Aliyev said: “Azerbaijan is today one of the countries on a global scale that pursues an independent policy. There are not too many countries like that. In particular, it is not typical of small countries in terms of population and territory. We are following the path of independence. A free and independent life is above everything for us.”
It is President Ilham Aliyev’s firm will, strong personality, deep and strategic vision, balanced and agile decisions and farsighted policy that allow Azerbaijan, a relatively small state, to pursue an independent foreign policy.
Azerbaijan is pursuing its independent foreign policy confronted by Armenia's ongoing military aggression, aggravation of contradictions and escalation of tension in international relations, activities accompanied by a gross violation of norms and principles of international law, emergence of new conflict zones in the regions close to Azerbaijan, growing threat of international terrorism and attempts to interfere in internal affairs of states as well as geopolitical difficulties of our region. Our country also faces continued disinformation campaigns and hybrid war.
As President Ilham Aliyev noted, there are no sources of internal threats in our country. Potential dangers are formed outside our country. The flexible, pragmatic and balanced multifaceted foreign policy pursued by the head of state serves to build a goodwill environment around the country and prevent and neutralize the threats and dangers coming from abroad. Azerbaijan is therefore today recognized as an island of stability and security in the region.
President Ilham Aliyev’s meetings, high-level dialogue and discussions with the heads of neighboring and other states are of exceptional importance in pursuing an independent and flexible foreign policy based on Azerbaijan`s national interests. The head of state’s foreign schedule is as tough and intense as in domestic policy and includes numerous visits and meetings. President Ilham Aliyev has paid 16 official and working visits to foreign countries in 2018, including Turkey, Russia, United Kingdom, Switzerland, France, Croatia, Belgium, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus and Turkmenistan. The presidents of Turkey, Iran, Russia, Italy, Tajikistan, Macedonia, Mongolia, Albania, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, prime ministers of Bulgaria, Georgia and Slovakia, member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina made official and working visits to Azerbaijan as well.
Each visit on President Ilham Aliyev’s agenda is of result-oriented and practical nature, and serves to develop mutually beneficial cooperation based on strategic interests.
President Ilham Aliyev's meetings with the heads of state of neighboring Turkey, Russia and Iran, which are held in a friendly atmosphere, his reciprocal visits and sincere dialogue with them are of crucial importance in developing our good neighborly relations. President Ilham Aliyev's visit to the European Union (EU) headquarters, his meeting with the President of the European Council Donald Tusk in Brussels and the conclusion of the Partnership Priorities document with the EU, as well as letters sent by the U.S. President to the head of state, and visits of the US high-ranking delegations to Azerbaijan have given impetus to the development of Azerbaijan’s cooperation with the EU and the United States.
More than 90 agreements, joint declarations and other similar documents have been signed with foreign countries with the participation of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in 2018. These documents essentially contribute to expanding the legal basis of bilateral cooperation with other countries. Among the documents signed between President Ilham Aliyev and other heads of state were:
- The Convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea;
- “Protocol of the seventh meeting of Azerbaijan-Turkey High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council”;
- “The Joint Action Plan for the Strategic Partnership between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Republic of Serbia”;
- The Joint Declaration of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the President of the Republic of Tajikistan;
- “The Joint Declaration on priority areas of economic cooperation between Azerbaijan and Russia”;
- The Joint Declaration of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the President of the Republic of Belarus;
- The Joint Declaration of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the President of Turkmenistan.
The signing of the Convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea in 2018 is a joint achievement of both Azerbaijan and all the Caspian littoral states. Although the regional nations have been benefiting from the Caspian Sea and its resources for centuries, there had been no document regulating the legal status of the Caspian Sea. That’s why the Convention, which was signed by the heads of state of the Caspian littoral states at the 5th Summit in Aktau on August 12, 2018, for the first time defined the legal status of the Caspian Sea and stipulated the rights and obligations of the littoral states in relation to the sea. As the head of state noted at the 5th Summit of the heads of state of the Caspian littoral states, the Convention defined the overall legal regime in the Caspian Sea.
Ensuring that Azerbaijan`s just position on the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is set out in the signed documents is one of the top priority issues in President Ilham Aliyev’s policy. Therefore, apart from defining the priority areas of bilateral cooperation, the documents reiterated support for the inviolability of the territorial integrity, sovereignty and internationally recognized borders of Azerbaijan and the settlement of the conflict on the basis of these principles, including the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council.
Throughout the year, President Ilham Aliyev has held more than 230 meetings with foreign delegations in the country and abroad. But this doesn’t include meetings with delegations from the cultural, social and sports fields. In his speeches at influential multilateral platforms such as Davos Economic Forum, which plays a crucial role in shaping the global economic, political and financial agenda, at the NATO Summit in Brussels as well as at summits of the Cooperation Council of Turkic-speaking States, Mid-Term Ministerial Conferences of the Non-Aligned Movement held in Baku and other prestigious events, the head of state has put forward Azerbaijan’s fundamental vision for global and regional problems.
Diplomatic correspondence is an integral component of diplomatic relations. President Ilham Aliyev`s correspondence with worlds leaders has included more than 750 letters and other diplomatic messages this year.
The year 2018 was also remarkable for the fall of the military junta led by Serzh Sargsyan in Armenia. The policy pursued by Azerbaijan under President Ilham Aliyev`s leadership, Armenia’s isolation became crucial factors that brought about the collapse of Serzh Sargsyan’s regime.
Azerbaijan, in the person of President Ilham Aliyev, has demonstrated strategic patience and high-level political culture in view of the political crisis in Armenia. The Armenian new political leadership`s attempts to change the format of the negotiation process and lay political claims have been prevented. The talk held between President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on the sidelines of the CIS Summit in Dushanbe once again stipulated that Armenia and Azerbaijan are the parties to the conflict and the two parties will continue the negotiations. The Azerbaijani President`s next talk with the Armenian prime minister took place on the sidelines of an informal CIS summit held in Saint Petersburg. The Joint Statement adopted by the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia together with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs at the OSCE Ministerial Council Meeting in Milan reaffirmed the continuation of the negotiations on the basis of the existing format and demonstrated the triumph of President Ilham Aliyev's diplomacy.
In this regard, President Ilham Aliyev`s constructive policy and commitment to solving the conflict through substantial negotiations is supported by the international community, and this support is openly expressed through public statements and during meetings.
The policy towards strengthening support for Azerbaijan`s fair position on the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has continued this year. The Partnership Priorities Document signed between President Ilham Aliyev and President of the European Council Donald Tusk in Brussels emphasized support for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and inviolability of the internationally recognized borders of Azerbaijan.
The final communique adopted at the NATO Summit Meeting in Brussels with the participation of President Ilham Aliyev reiterated continuous support for Azerbaijan's territorial integrity and sovereignty and called for the settlement of the conflict on the basis of these principles.
President Ilham Aliyev pays constant attention to the release and return of our fellow countrymen Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev to the motherland and continuously discusses this issue with the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and other official delegations. All members of the international community, including the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, support the Azerbaijani President’s humane proposal concerning the exchange of hostages between Armenia and Azerbaijan on the basis of "all-for-all” principle.
President Ilham Aliyev`s resolute and consistent policy also brought about Armenia`s marginalization in the Collective Security Treaty Organization. Although Azerbaijan is not a member of this organization, our country could not have remained indifferent to the policy pursued by Armenia, which abuses its status in the organization. This resulted in the dismissal of the Armenian representative, who was undermining the organization`s status, from his post of secretary general, and Armenia was not allowed to keep this office.
It is President Ilham Aliyev`s strategic diplomacy and logical foreign policy that ensures the improvement and strengthening of Azerbaijan`s international influence and weight, and its regional leadership role.
In his speech at the opening of the 5th Global Baku Forum, President Ilham Aliyev said: “All our initiatives aim at regional cooperation, stability and predictability, as well as the strengthening of peaceful coexistence and understanding among nations.”
Azerbaijan is today contributing actively to addressing regional and global problems. With transregional transport and energy projects, Azerbaijan is assisting considerably the efforts to strengthen peace and stability both in the region and beyond. Guided by the principles of regional affiliation and responsibility, the country is cementing peace, stability and cooperation in the region through bilateral and trilateral cooperation mechanisms.
Azerbaijan stands for the establishment of the rule of law-based economic and political order in the international relations.
In accordance with the head of state`s strategic instructions, Azerbaijan will chair Non-Aligned Movement, which includes 120 countries, in 2019-2022. In his speech at the opening ceremony of Mid-Term Ministerial Conference of Non-Aligned Movement in Baku in April, 2018, President Ilham Aliyev outlined Azerbaijan`s presidency priorities in compliance with Bandung principles – the core principles of the organization – and the country`s vision for the strengthening of international peace and security.
The policy pursued by the head of state also transformed Azerbaijan into a globally important platform for strategic dialogue. Baku has been hosting regular meetings between the military leadership of the U.S. and Russia, NATO and Russia since 2017. In February, 2017, Baku hosted a meeting between the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States and the chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. In September, 2017, the capital of Azerbaijan hosted a meeting between the chairman of the NATO Military Committee and the chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces.
There are nearly 200 countries in the world, which are members of the United Nations. But this meeting is held in Azerbaijan. There are nearly 50 countries in Europe. But this meeting is held in Azerbaijan. President Ilham Aliyev explained this: “There are several reasons for that. First of all, we enjoy trust. Azerbaijan is a very reliable partner, our words are complemented by our deeds, we fulfill all our promises and stand behind our words. On the other hand, there is respect for us. The policy we are pursuing today has earned us tremendous respect. Azerbaijan is treated with great sympathy. By pursuing an independent policy, we have been able to assert ourselves as an independent country in the true sense of the word. The third reason is that we have close ties with both Russia and NATO.”
By hosting meetings in this format, Azerbaijan – as a worthy and responsible member of the international community – is making its contribution to strengthening global peace and security, arms control, reducing international tension and building strategic dialogue and mutual confidence.
Azerbaijan is making diverse contributions to international cooperation. Among them are our efforts to build cultural bridges, which encourages a better understanding between Asia and Europe, between Europe and the Muslim world.
At the conference of the Council of Europe Ministers responsible for Culture under the motto “Intercultural dialogue as a basis for peace and sustainable development in Europe and its neighboring regions”, which was held in Baku in December, 2008, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan put forward “Baku Process” initiative aimed at developing dialogue and cooperation between the Islamic and Western civilizations as well as between nations and cultures. “Baku Process”, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, has already become an influential platform that plays a crucial role in intercultural and intercivilizational dialogue. The Humanitarian Forum, which is held regularly in Azerbaijan, including in 2018, is an important international format for discussing and addressing global humanitarian issues.
As a foreign policy sets a longer term strategy and objectives, the people of Azerbaijan will see the results and successes of some of the initiatives, which the head of state put forward in 2018, in the years to come.
Like previous years, 2018 has seen Azerbaijan`s independence and sovereignty strengthen under President Ilham Aliyev`s leadership. As the head of state said: “Present-day Azerbaijan is yet another evidence that independence is our greatest asset. Indeed, it is. Independence is our greatest asset, our greatest blessing, our greatest happiness. Azerbaijan`s independence is eternal.”
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