- 1. This year we commemorate 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Pakistan and Azerbaijan. Can you highlight some salient features of Pakistan-Azerbaijan relations? Moreover, how can both countries further strengthen and broaden their mutual cooperation?
Azerbaijan and Pakistan are two very close brotherly countries in whose relations you cannot find even one small misunderstanding. Our relations have strong roots and are based on historical ties between our peoples. Even if you glimpse to the history you can see that our nations supported each other, solved each other’s important problems together and thanks Allah in present time we are doing the same more than we did before. And even over the years some hostile forces tried to damage our brotherly relationship, but they have not been able to succeed. I think the salient features of Pakistan-Azerbaijan 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. I think these are the main salient features of Pakistan-Azerbaijan relations.
Thanks to the efforts and positive views of the leaders of both countries, our relations are at the highest level. Now we are more keen to further strengthen people to people contacts and broaden our economic, cultural relations.
2. Azerbaijan announced this year as an Islamic Solidarity Year in the country. What is the main goal of this declaration?
Having played the role of one of the Islamic world's cultural, religious and civilizational centers and combined traditions and modernity, Azerbaijan has made a great contribution to the formation of an atmosphere of tolerance and multiculturalism, intercultural dialogue, as well as the promotion of the Islamic culture in the world. Azerbaijan hosted the First European Games two years ago, at the same time we hosted the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games this year. With these efforts and striving Azerbaijan has become the center of dialogue of civilizations and religions, and an economic and cultural bridge. Islam always encouraged peace, tolerance, humane ideals and made an outstanding contribution to the world civilization. And the major goal of declaration of “The Year of Islamic Solidarity” by President of Azerbaijan is to strengthen robust unity in the Muslim world and to show the whole world that Islam is a religion of peace and culture.
3. Please share with our readers some details about Heydar Aliyev Foundation and its humanitarian work/projects in Pakistan.
Heydar Aliyev Foundation was established on the grounds of the people’s wish to express its esteem for the memory of Heydar Aliyev, national leader of Azerbaijan. Starting its activity in 2004, Heydar Aliyev Foundation has been actively participating in building a new society and contributing to the social and economic development of the country, by implementing various projects in spheres such as education, public health, culture, sports, science and technology, environment, and social spheres. In 2005 Heydar Aliyev Foundation started its work in Pakistan. It happened soon after the devastating earthquake, when Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva, President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, took an initiative to construct a new school for girls in the place of the destroyed one in Muzaffarabad. The Foundation regularly supplies the school with all necessary means of education and technology. President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, the First Lady of Azerbaijan initiated a series of healthcare, education, development and humanitarian projects in all provinces of Pakistan. In the framework of the action plan, the hepatitis vaccinations, check ups and treatments were carried out in various orphanages, women and children hospitals, and institutes of Pakistan. The Foundation also donated a fully equipped ambulance and thousands of blood collection bags, made a financial assistance for the construction of a new block/building and waiting rooms for some hospitals. During the holy month of Ramadan, the Foundation hosted iftar dinners to the beneficiaries of Pakistan Sweet Homes and other orphanages in all four provinces of Pakistan. During Eid ul Adha, the Foundation distributed meat of hundreds of animals to the Sweet Homes and orphanages. In 2014 the Foundation inaugurated Heydar Aliyev Water Supply Scheme of Tank district of DIK, KPK. As a result, thousands of inhabitants of that area have got access to pure drinking water. Obviously, activities of Azerbaijan’s First Lady in Pakistan serves to further strengthening and deepening brotherly relations between the two countries. It is remarkable and we are grateful to Pakistani Government and people that due to her activities carried out in Pakistan, Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva was awarded with Hilal-e-Pakistan order, as well as the title of “Symbol of Humanity, “Woman of 2012” by “Women Volunteers Organization” and “Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Excellence Award” in 2013.
4. Please give us a brief background of Nagorno Karabakh issue and are you satisfied with the role Pakistan has played on this particular issue? And what is your stand on the Kashmir issue?
This is the painful issue that Azerbaijan is suffering from Armenian separatism and terrorism since the end of the 20th century. In the years of 1989-1994, as a result of Armenia's military aggression against Azerbaijan, 20 per cent of our lands was occupied. As a result of this occupation and the policy of ethnic cleansing, more than one million Azerbaijanis became refugees and IDPs in their own land. Our historically native lands of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent districts were occupied by Armenia. Innocent people were killed. A war crime was committed against our people – the Khojaly genocide. The Armenians have destroyed our historical and religious monuments, mosques in the occupied lands. All international organizations clearly support position of Azerbaijan. In particular, the United Nations General Assembly has repeatedly adopted resolutions. The UN Security Council has adopted four resolutions demanding unconditional and immediate withdrawal of Armenian forces from our occupied lands. Other international organizations have adopted similar decisions and resolutions. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, the Non-Aligned Movement, the OSCE – so all international organizations support Azerbaijan’s just position. Nagorno-Karabakh is an integral historical part of Azerbaijan. It is also an integral part of Azerbaijan from the point of view of international law. The territorial integrity of our country must be restored. Unfortunately, Armenia ignores these resolutions and there is no mechanism for their implementation. This is a huge injustice. Innocent people are still suffering from the Armenian policy.
I am grateful to Pakistan that it always supports Azerbaijan on this issue 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 it. The Government and people of Azerbaijan highly value this brotherly approach. Moreover, Foreign Relations Committees of National Assembly and Senate of Pakistan officially recognized the Khojaly Genocide perpetrated by Armenians as a genocide. It is another sign of friendship, brotherhood and justice. And regarding your question about Kashmir issue, I would like to remind that we are the member of OIC Contact Group on Kashmir issue and always try for the resolution of this problem. We support the ongoing efforts towards a peaceful resolution of Kashmir issue. We regard the peaceful resolution of Kashmir issue as indispensable for peace and security in South Asia. Azerbaijan fully supports resolution of Kashmir issue based on the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions. As I have already informed, we have also resolutions on Nagorno-Karabakh issue and we think that all these resolutions have to be implemented.
5. Do you think, OIC can play any role on Nagorno-Karabakh issue?
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has been the first organization to acknowledge the fact of aggression by Armenia against Azerbaijan. We very appreciate and are grateful to OIC that it always strongly condemns the Armenian offensive against Azerbaijan and the occupation of Azerbaijan’s territories, demands the immediate withdrawal of Armenian forces from all occupied Azerbaijani territories and strongly urges Armenia to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan. OIC always deplores the destruction of the cultural heritage and sacred Islamic sites, the forced demographic changes, interference to property rights, illegal economic activities in Nagorno-Karabakh region and other occupied territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and urges Member States to prevent their legal and natural persons from getting involved in these illegal activities. The Organization's summits always keep the problem of Nagorno-Karabakh in the focus of attention and adopt quite clear statements, resolutions requiring observance of the norms of international law. And I think OIC is playing an important role on this issue.
6. What according to you can be an amicable solution to this issue?
The amicable solution to this issue is implementation of four UN Security Council resolutions and the resolutions of other international organizations, which demand unconditional and immediate withdrawal of Armenian forces from our occupied lands. In some cases UN Security Council resolutions, as we have seen in recent history, are executed/implemented in a matter of days, but unfortunately when it comes to Azerbaijan, although it has been more than 23 years since these resolutions were adopted, they are not execute/implemented yet. The organizations that adopted these same resolutions do not insist on their execution. The execution of these resolutions is one of the main amicable solutions to this issue.
7. Azerbaijan undoubtedly is making progress in all fields, especially economy by leaps and bounds. Can you share with our readers the steps that your government has taken to improve its economy?
During the years of independence one of the main aims of the government has been the creation of a liberal, powerful, competitive, and modern economic system. Thanks to the leaders of our country we have achieved our strategic objectives in the economy. The determination of the priority sectors of the economy and their subsequent development, attraction of investment, and implementation of targeted state programs have been implemented. The solution of the problem of unemployment and poverty, the continuous improvement of people’s living standards, and other achievements are observed in our country. By channeling a portion of our revenues from the production and sale of oil and gas into the development of the non-oil sector, we have both revitalized our traditional sectors of the economy and developed such spheres as tourism, space industry, information and communication technology, defense industry, and others. As you may know, Azerbaijan, as is the case with other oil-rich countries, suffered the repercussions of the falling oil prices. But if you look at the steps taken by all oil-exporting countries, we can see that Azerbaijan is among the countries that have successfully overcome this crisis. According to the statistics for the last years, the share of the non-oil sector in the GDP has continuously increased to reach 65%. This is the evidence of economic diversification in Azerbaijan and the reducing dependence on oil. The world’s leading economic and financial institutions also acknowledge Azerbaijan’s achievements.
8. Both Pakistan and Azerbaijan are enriched with cultural heritage and one way of further cementing ties between the two may be to give impetus to cultural relations. Do you agree with this preposition?
Absolutely. Cultural relations is one of the important fields of the relations between countries. It makes nations closer to each other even more than other links. We have common faith, cultural affinity and other spiritual values. It is important to promote cultural cooperation and a wider exposure to each other’s cultural heritage and achievements through exhibitions, cultural and arts performances. And strengthening contacts and links of friendship amongst citizens, in particular amongst young people, and their associations in the fields of culture, higher education, health, youth and sports will also play an important role in our cultural relations. And we have a serious intention to continue these efforts.
9. As we know both countries have a cooperation in energy and defence sectors. Can you share with our readers some details of this cooperation?
Yes, we have a productive cooperation in defence sector and this sector is a significant part of our relations. Pakistan has a developed defence industry and we also have discussions to cooperate in establishing joint ventures, to realise joint defence industry production, to purchase most modern defence products and enhance our cooperation in defence industry.
This year we also started our cooperation in energy field. During the visit of H.E. President of Azerbaijan to Pakistan in March 2017, “Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan on Cooperation in the Field of Energy” was signed. This agreement will further develop cooperation in the energy field, such as supply and trade of crude oil, oil products, liquefied natural and petroleum gas, as well as attraction of investments into energy sectors.
9. How do you see Pakistan’s role in war on terror?
In the recent years Pakistan was rapidly moving towards economic and political stability and also on war against terrorism and extremism. Pakistan’s role in bringing regional stability is important. We see that the government has committed to rooting out terrorism at all cost. It is notable that Pakistan has always backed stability and peace in the region. I highly appreciate the sacrifices made by the Pakistan Army and Pakistani nation in the efforts to root out terrorism and extremism and the success achieved so far.
10. Anything which you would like to add especially your impressions about Pakistan?
It is a great honour for me to be an Ambassador of Azerbaijan in the brotherly country of Pakistan and to do all efforts for the further extending and strengthening relations between the two countries and peoples together with my Pakistani colleagues. It gives me an immense pleasure. It is also a great pleasure to witness the hospitality, kindness, sincerity and simplicity of Pakistani nation. This year we are celebrating 25th anniversary of establishment of Azerbaijan-Pakistan diplomatic relations. Thanks to our leaders’ and peoples’ efforts in these 25 years, we achieved good results in our relations and reached the strategic partnership level. Taking this opportunity, I would like to congratulate the governments and nations of both countries on this occasion and wish continued peace and prosperity to our countries. I am confident that our close, cooperative and brotherly ties will be further extended in the years ahead.