"At the outset, I would like to express our sincere gratitude to our Tajik hosts for the excellent organization of the Ministerial Conference and the warm hospitality extended to the delegations," said Azerbaijani Minister of Foreign Affairs Jeyhun Bayramov at the 9th “Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process” Ministerial conference, press service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told ONA.
"This Ministerial Conference provides an excellent opportunity to take stock of important work done within the Istanbul Process, as well as identifying future directions of common endeavors to address serious challenges facing Afghanistan and the entire Heart of Asia region. Therefore, we see this conference as a sign of strong commitment by all participating countries, as well as supporting states and international organizations to attaining our common goal of secure and prosperous Afghanistan at peace with its neighbors.
We remain committed to supporting the stabilization, peaceful reconstruction and development of Afghanistan through bilateral efforts as well as active participation within the multilateral platforms.
With this understanding, we closely follow the intra-Afghan peace talks with the hope that this process will eventually lead to the establishment of durable peace and security in the country in full respect to Afghanistan’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.
Azerbaijan regards the Istanbul Process as a valuable mechanism of attaining peace, reconciliation, security and economic development of Afghanistan. Azerbaijan is among the first and most active supporters of Afghanistan in its endeavors to overcome the ongoing challenges. Since joining the Process in 2012, we have been actively participating in this multilateral platform. Azerbaijan remains committed to furthering the Istanbul Process, including as a co-lead country of the two confidence-building measures, namely the Regional Infrastructures and Counter-Narcotics CBMs, together with Turkmenistan and the Russian Federation, respectively.
Confidence-building measures represent a valuable mechanism to facilitate result-oriented and needs-based cooperation. In this regard, the practical realization of confidence-building measures through concrete projects is of high importance.
We remain of the view that the well-being and prosperity of Afghanistan, economic growth and regional cooperation are interlinked and dependent on the overall security environment in the region. It is crucial that while focusing on the reconstruction and economic development of Afghanistan, we continue addressing the security challenges the country faces to maintain the progress made so far.
Thus, it is of utmost importance to continue our joint efforts in fighting the security threats emerging from terrorism, violent extremism and separatism in all their forms and manifestations, and enhance regional cooperation to that end.
Azerbaijan remains committed to supporting Afghanistan on its path towards self-reliance by enhancing practical contributions in the areas of education and training, infrastructure development, investments, and financial aid. Azerbaijan shares its experience with Afghanistan also through bilateral channels, providing training assistance in good governance, delivery of public services (ASAN), military, law-enforcement and mine action fields.
Transparent, zero tolerance to corruption and bribery the Azerbaijani State Agency for Services and Social Innovations to the Citizens – “ASAN Service” is actively cooperating with Afghanistan. This cooperation is aimed at improving the state services of Afghanistan through the establishment of “one-stop-shop” centers providing public and private services to the citizens.
Azerbaijan is also engaged in cooperation with Afghanistan with a view to facilitating its integration into the regional economy and reviving trade with its neighbors and beyond through increased regional connectivity.
The ongoing regional connectivity projects initiated by Azerbaijan, including such strategic backbone components as the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railroad, the new Baku International Sea Trade Port, logistics center on the shores of the Caspian Sea, linking up railway networks of Azerbaijan and Iran represent qualitatively new achievement in developing trans-regional infrastructure with multi-module capabilities along the East-West and North-South axes. These projects will facilitate Afghanistan’s access to the global market and provide connectivity in the region, capable of handling cargo and containers in a much shorter, faster, efficient and cost-effective way.
The Lapis-Lazuli Route Agreement by Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey and Turkmenistan is a major international trade and transport corridor deal that will connect Afghanistan directly to Europe. It is a milestone in Afghanistan’s efforts to achieve connectivity through improvement and building of infrastructure for increased trade across Eurasia. Being part of this Agreement Azerbaijan is glad to contribute to providing multiple options for Afghanistan in terms of transit and transportation.
In view of Afghanistan’s role as an important hub for regional trade, transit and transport, the role of the Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA) in sharing the benefits of this geographical location and supporting sustainable development in Afghanistan is very important.
In conclusion, I would like to reiterate Azerbaijan’s unwavering support for Afghanistan’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence and wish the Government of National Unity every success in its efforts towards achieving a unified, peaceful and prosperous future for the friendly and brotherly people of Afghanistan," said Azerbaijani FM.