H.E. Ali Alizada Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan
Author: Raja Aamir Mahmood Bhatti
DS: Would you please let us know about the important developments during the recent visit of the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan to Pakistan?
Ambassador: As a newly appointed FM of Azerbaijan, Mr. Jeyhun Bayramov was keen to pay one of his earliest official visits to the brotherly country of Pakistan to discuss the possibilities of strengthening and boosting relations with Pakistan. As you are aware the last bilateral visit of the FM of Azerbaijan to Pakistan took place 10 years ago and I think this visit itself was one of the important developments between the two countries.
The Foreign Ministers of both countries agreed to further boost the cooperation in diverse fields of mutual interest including political, strategic, trade, economic, energy, defense, peace and security, humanitarian, science and technology, cultural and people-to-people ties, as well as continue to support each other on all issues involving our countries’ national interests.
Another development during the visit was to hold the second trilateral meeting of FMs of Azerbaijan, Pakistan and Turkey. This meeting successfully concluded by the signing of Islamabad declaration by the three FMs. The declaration said “the three countries desired of further deepening cooperation in all areas of mutual interest.” Both, the bilateral meetings and the trilateral meeting already lasted a positive impacts to our relations and will continue to further boost cooperation.
DS: During the meetings in Islamabad, the FMs also discussed the Karabakh and Kashmir issues. What is the stated policy of Azerbaijan on Kashmir?
Ambassador: As a country which enormously suffered from the Armenian aggression and occupation for almost three decades, we understand the consequences of the conflicts well. As a member of the several international organizations and OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir, Azerbaijan constantly made all efforts for the resolution of Kashmir dispute.
The principal position of Azerbaijan on Kashmir issue is clear; Azerbaijan has always consistently supported the principle and legitimate position on Kashmir issue in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and has supported the peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir issue. Unfortunately, Kashmir issue lasts more than seven decades and we hope and believe that with support and efforts by the international community this conflict will be resolved amicably soon, through mutual dialogue and understanding.
DS: How do you see the overall relations between two countries? Where you think we should work more?
Ambassador: Azerbaijan and Pakistan enjoy excellent relations based on bonds of brotherhood, shared history, culture, mutual respect and trust. Both the countries have already reached strategic partnership at political level. But trade and economic relations don’t match our political relations; therefore, we are now focused on promoting trade relations that would yield highly beneficial results for the economies of both the countries.
Covid-19 pandemic has caused some slowdown in trade activities between the two countries, but after the coronavirus pandemic will be settled down, I am sure that our bilateral trade will also get boosted. Azerbaijan is always interested in developing regional connectivity, transportation linkages and direct flights with Pakistan which will also give positive impacts to our economic and trade ties and soon after the slowdown of Covid-19 we are going to start direct flights as well as some mutually beneficial projects between our two countries.
DS: Azerbaijan has liberated its internationally recognized territories from the Armenian occupation and this historical achievement was very warmly welcomed by official Islamabad and by Pakistani nation. How is the situation in the liberated territories of Azerbaijan and what kinds of works are conducted there?
Ambassador: The situation is stable and under control of Azerbaijani Armed Forces and Azeri authorities. As you are aware during the three decades of Armenian occupation, the Armenian invaders have committed genocide, massacres and war-crimes not only against the Azerbaijani nation but they also subjected the occupied territories to environmental, cultural terrorism. Over the decades, Azerbaijani cultural monuments, artifacts in the occupied territories have been systematically vandalized, misappropriated and destroyed. They occupiers cut and burned the trees and forests. The cities and villages were razed to the ground. The cemeteries, sacred sites, mosques were demolished.
Azerbaijan constantly efforts for the resolution of Kashmir dispute, as a member of various Int. organizations and OIC Contact Group on Jammu & Kashmir
Now the state programs and documents have been signed by the President of Azerbaijan regarding the restoration and renovation of infrastructure and development of the liberated regions. Under the direct leadership of the President, the Azerbaijani Government has started the decontamination, reconstruction, rehabilitation and reintegration works at the liberated Azerbaijani territories, which had suffered enormous destruction over the course of the Armenian occupation. “The liberated territories are now entering a new period marked by reconstruction and infrastructure works; that will reshape the outlook of the region and will bring back the peace and stability.
DS: Will Pakistani companies also take part in reconstruction and rehabilitation process at the liberated territories of Azerbaijan?
Ambassador: Reconstruction of the region will be carried out both through public investment and with the involvement of funds from the private sector. Attractive environment have been introduced for investors (both domestic and foreign). From the first day of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan the Pakistan has consistently extended the diplomatic, moral and political support to Azerbaijan and put its principal position on just cause of Azerbaijan. Pakistan has denounced the Armenian occupation of internationally recognized territories of Azerbaijan, demanding immediate withdrawal of Armenian troops from there.
Azerbaijani Government and nation has always appreciated and valued Pakistan’s stance on the position of Azerbaijan. We will be pleased to see Pakistani companies stepping in to the reconstruction and rehabilitation process. Of course the priority will be given to the companies of friendly and brotherly countries. Many Pakistani companies have shown interest in construction and restoration works in liberated areas.
During the visit of FM of Azerbaijan to Pakistan, we have discussed prospects of cooperation with Pakistan’s Frontier Works Organization (FWO) in restoration and construction works at liberated Azerbaijani lands. Recently, FWO has also conducted the visit to Azerbaijan for this purpose. FWO is also considering participating and extending its support in de-mining process of the liberated Azerbaijani territories. During almost three decades of occupation Armenia deliberately laid land mines in these territories resulting in numerous casualties among the Azerbaijani military and civilians.
Armenia, in a blatant violation of its international obligations, refused to release the map of minefields. This will have serious impedes on rehabilitation and reconstruction works. So lot of works is needed for de-mining of the liberated territories and Pakistan has offered her willing to assist in this connection.
DS: How do you see the defense and military cooperation between Pakistan and Azerbaijan?
Ambassador: The military and defense cooperation is in the interest of both countries and is considered as one of the main fields in our bilateral relations. Pakistan and Azerbaijan has developed their strong defense industries cooperation. This field is also among top priorities for us. We have excellent bilateral cooperation with Pakistan in the military, military-technical and military-educational spheres, but it is important to intensify more our efforts in this area.
The Armenian invaders have committed genocide, massacres and war-crimes against the Azerbaijani people
Our Armed Forces are working closely on mutually sharing experience on annual basis. The servicemen and officers from both sides take part in different courses and trainings organized in our respective countries. Every year we organize several high level exchanges of military leadership and officials mutually. We have a very good understanding in trilateral format, when it comes to the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan, Pakistan and Turkey.
Conducting joint bilateral military exercises between Azerbaijan and Pakistan, as well as the trilateral military exercises with the involvement of various types of troops, including Special Forces of the Azerbaijan’s Armed Forces, Pakistani and the Turkish Armed Forces are under consideration and will take place this year. The defense and military cooperation between our countries at the high level of strategic partnership is there. I am sure it will be further strengthened in the years ahead.