Albania-Azerbaijan, TAP not the only success story of cooperation

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times October 29, 2020 17:05

Albania-Azerbaijan, TAP not the only success story of cooperation

Exclusive Interview with H. E Ambassador of Azerbaijan to Albania, Μr. Anar Huseynov on bilateral relations potential, updates from the conflict with Armenia and more.

First and foremost I would like to ask you what was your impression when you were assigned to come to Albania? Did you know about our country and how did you feel about coming here? 

Thank you for having me. You know, this is actually my second posting to Albania and during the first one (2011-2015) I was a Deputy Chief of Mission and had a chance to travel to your country twice. That was enough to feel warmth, hospitality, frankness and kindness of your people. For the last days upon my arrival in a new capacity I have witnessed also readiness to assist by all my counterparts, which I appreciate a lot. So, my impressions are only positive and my pulse started beating faster for Albania. 

There has been recently in Turkey a meeting between PM Rama and your President Aliyev. How would you characterize the current citation of the political relations between our two countries? What is the potential moving forward? 

Political relations between our countries have always been dynamically developing and based on principles of friendship, mutual trust and respect of territorial integrity, sovereignty and inviolability of internationally recognized borders of both countries. For many years sincere and friendly relations between our leaders undoubtedly has had a strong impact on development of our bilateral relations. I do believe that regular exchange of high ranking official visits will boost further our interactions in different fields. 

Albania and Azerbaijan bilateral relations in the field of economic cooperation had a significant shift forward because of the major pipeline project: the TAP. Now that this project is complete, how do you think this cooperation can be preserved and developed?

I share your view that TAP has played a crucial role in development of our relations but it should not remain the only successful story of cooperation between our countries. First and utmost, as I mentioned above, we have to exchange high-ranking visits, strengthen our legal basis and in line with energy sector, we can explore potential for cooperation in other fields of mutual interest including tourism, agriculture, mutual investments, education and culture. 

Do you have any plans to enrich the cultural cooperation between our two countries, a  field that has been little explored? 

For sure cultural interactions between our countries are important and have far-reaching effect. As you rightly pointed out, so far we have had very limited activities implemented in this field. Both countries have rich cultural potential to present and despite global hardships we have to seek for opportunities of exchange in this area. That will help for better understanding of our common values and bring our nations closer. 

In the time of our interview, your country is facing a very difficult situation with the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. It is at least to say a very complex issue with international ramifications. What are the latest updates? 

As a result of Armenian aggression 20% of our territories were occupied and one million refugees and internally displaced persons ethnically cleansed from Armenia and occupied territories.  Despite 4 UN Security Council resolutions of 1993 (822, 853, 874 and 884) demanding immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of occupying forces from the internationally recognized territories of Azerbaijan Armenia has not only disregarded demands of the Security Council, but systematically and deliberately pursued the goal of securing the annexation of the occupied territories.    
For the last two years new government of Armenia through various provocations has undermined the peace process and rendered the negotiations meaningless. We have a long list of these provocations but it is suffice to mention only one - Prime Minister Pashinyan’s trip to occupied territories and statement that “Karabakh is Armenia and period”. That was a strong prove of non-readiness of Yerevan to continue joint efforts for finding a political solution to the conflict within OSCE Minsk Group. Moreover, Armenia in accordance with her new military doctrine “new wars for new territories” over the last several months has made attempts to grab new lands, the most furious one was in July far away from Nagorno Karabakh region of Azerbaijan on the state border between two countries and very close to our strategic oil&gas pipeline infrastructure, including the one connecting Azerbaijan to Italy through Albania.   
Following the artillery attacks by Armenia on September 27, 2020 which caused casualties among civilians and military servicemen of Azerbaijan, our Armed Forces were obliged to undertake counter-offensive measures within the right of self-defense given by UN Charter and in full compliance with the international humanitarian law in order to ensure the security of densely populated residential areas deep inside the internationally recognized territories of Azerbaijan.  
Later after a series of defeats on the battlefield, Armenia again opted for terror and war crimes against humanity and keeps shelling our densely populated cities far from frontline, including Ganja - the second largest city of Azerbaijan and Mingachevir - the city that hosts the biggest water reservoir in the South Caucasus. As a result, so far at least 70 Azerbaijani civilians have been killed including kids, women and elderly and about 300 seriously injured in Armenia’s continuing attacks on civilian settlements.    
The major goal behind these provocations by Armenia is intention to make the conflict regional, to attract third parties. As for Azerbaijan, we take necessary counter-offensive measures on our internationally recognized territories and regretfully have to implement ourselves the relevant UN Security Council resolutions to defend our sovereignty and territorial integrity, and protect our population.  

Some independent experts claim that both Azerbaijan and Armenia should adjust their maximalist positions and prepare for a compromise in order to give negotiations a chance. What would your comment be?

I cannot agree with those “independent” experts accusing Azerbaijan for maximalist position in the conflict settlement process. We have always been constructive for the last 27 years of peaceful negotiations and demanded only for restoration of our territorial integrity recognized by all countries, except Armenia whose interests serve those so-called experts. It is Armenia remaining insatiable with our lands historically granted them by a regional power and followed by intensive resettlement policy of ethnic Armenians on our lands including Nagorno Karabakh region. Despite we claim back only our territories recognized by UN and international community in 1991 and ready to discuss a special status of Nagorno Karabakh region within territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. 

In your opinion, what should the role of the international community and especially international organizations be to solve this conflict? 

As I mentioned above Azerbaijan has always been favoring peaceful settlement of the conflict for almost three decades but current government of Armenia ruined them and left no chances for further negotiations. Although for the last weeks our Armed Forces have been successfully implementing UN SC resolutions there is a strong will of Baku to resolve the conflict by political means. The OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairmen in cooperation with both sides tabled basis principles of settlement of the conflict and we are ready to go with them but Yerevan remains unconstructive and disrupts the whole process of peaceful negotiations. Armenia even violates recent temporarily humanitarian truce agreements to exchange captives and killed bodies. In less than 24 hours of truce achieved they bombarded during the night our civilian settlements far away of the battlefield. 

Finally your country is also facing, just like all the countries in the world, the Covid-19 pandemics: how is the situation in Azerbaijan and what are some of the measures taken to manage it? 

From early stages of pandemic Azerbaijan has taken all necessary measures to curb its spread and has been rather successful. But as of October, the number of infected has started to increase mostly due to easing-off relevant restrictions and start of academic year. Thereat, the Cabinet of Ministers has decided to enforce the special quarantine regime mostly suspending regular education in schools and universities till November 2.   
Over the past day, 714 new cases of coronavirus infection have been registered in Azerbaijan and 176 patients of hospitals recovered and were discharged home.  Seven patients who tested positive for coronavirus have died. Since the end of February, a total of 46,593 cases of coronavirus infection have been detected in Azerbaijan, of which 40,448 people have recovered, 642 people have died. The number of patients undergoing treatment in special hospitals is 5,503. 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times October 29, 2020 17:05