This year we celebrate the 99th anniversary of foundation of The Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan. On May 28, 1918, Azerbaijan declared its independence establishing the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, which became the first secular parliamentary democracy in the entire East and was recognized by other democratic nations. During the short period of independence, Azerbaijan granted all its citizens the right of vote regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, and religion, becoming the first Muslim nation to give women equal political rights with men. Though as a result of the military intervention of the Soviet Union that violated international norms, Azerbaijan was annexed to the Union in 1920, but the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan entered forever into the history of our nation. Existing for only 23 months, the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan proved that neither bloody tyranny nor the regime of suppression could terminate the independent state system establishment and concepts of freedom of Azerbaijani people. And Azerbaijani people continued to struggle for their state independence during 70 years. 26 years ago, in 1991, the Supreme Council of Azerbaijan adopted the Constitutional Act on State Independence. Thus, Azerbaijan gained independence for the second time in the 20th century and established the state system, the political and economic structure of the independent Republic of Azerbaijan. The early years of our independence were not so successful. There was political and economic crisis. The industry was practically paralyzed. It was a period of lost opportunities. Armenia unleashed aggression against our country and as a result of Armenia's military aggression 20 per cent of our lands was occupied. But after coming to power of the national leader of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev in 1993, Azerbaijan began to develop as a modern and secular state. Azerbaijan made great strides in all areas. Azerbaijan embarked on economic reforms and established the principles of market economy. The political reforms carried out in Azerbaijan under his leadership were designed for the development of democracy and protection of human rights and these same reforms are being continued by the present leader of Azerbaijan too.
And in that difficult time of early years of our independence Pakistan was one of the first countries which recognized independence of Azerbaijan in 1991 and in 1992 we established our diplomatic relations. And since then we enjoy cordial and warm relations. We always support each other on all issues, as well as on Nagorno-Karabakh and Kashmir issues based on UN Security Council resolutions. And because of the Armenian occupation of Azerbaijani lands Pakistan has not recognized Armenia as an independent state and have not established diplomatic relations with agressor country. The Government and people of Azerbaijan highly value this brotherly and fair approach. Thanks to the efforts and positive views of the leaders of both countries, our relations are at the strategic partnership level. Last year we had a fruitful visit of H. E. Prime Minister of Pakistan to Azerbaijan, and this year after 12 years break H.E. President of Azerbaijan visited Pakistan. Moreover in 2016-17, we have had mutual visits of more than 10 ministers and other officials. In the upcoming months Chief of Air Staff, Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee of Pakistan armed forces will visit Azerbaijan. Last year our trade turnover was increased more than 2 times, but we are not satisfied and very keen to boost our economic ties. The successful session of intergovernmental commission was also held last year. We have very good cooperation in the military area, in defence industry. We have discussions to cooperate in establishing joint ventures, to realise joint defence industry production, to purchase most modern defence products from Pakistan. During the visit of H.E. President of Azerbaijan to Pakistan this year, we signed Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Energy and started our energy cooperation. We also have good relations in humanitarian-social field. A number of different humanitarian-social projects were implemented by Heydar Aliyev Foundation of Azerbaijan in Pakistan. We are very interested to further strenghten people to people contacts, as well as to enhance our cultural and tourism relations. This year we have siplified visa prosedures for our Pakistani brothers and sisters and now every Pakistani citizen can get Azerbaijani visa online, through electronic visa system.
This year is significant for our countries because we are also commemorating 25th year of our diplomatic relations. Taking this opportunity, I would like to congratule the governments and peoples of both countries and to thank the government of Pakistan for cooperation and brotherly approach which they showed during these years. 25 anniversary are only the beginning of our modern relations. Throughout the history our nations have communicated, worked together. We can see many signs of Pakistani culture in Azerbaijan and vice versa. Azerbaijan-Pakistan relations are based on confidence, strong, sincere mutual trust and respect between the two countries and nations, and our relations do not depend on material interests. We share our grief together and rejoice in our success together.
These priceless relations we have to value forever.
H.E. Ali Alizada
Ambassador of Azerbaijan