2017-12-28
Press Release of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the outcome of 2017

In accordance with the foreign policy priorities set by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan H.E Mr. Ilham Aliyev, the instructions and order of the President and relevant laws of the Republic of Azerbaijan and on the basis of the norms and principles of international law independent, multidimensional, balanced and active foreign policy of the Republic of Azerbaijan was continued in 2017.

President Ilham Aliyev in his comprehensive and detailed speech at the official reception on the occasion of the Republic Day on May 28 characterized Azerbaijan’s foreign policy as following: "Azerbaijan has achieved great success in foreign policy. We will continue to further defend our national interests in the international arena. We are known today as a country with great respect in the world. The number of countries willing to cooperate with us is growing. We have no problem in bilateral format with any country other than Armenia. We have also initiated many trilateral cooperation formats".

The foreign policy of the Republic of Azerbaijan is served to the goals of implementation and protection of national interests at the international level, prevention of external threats and challenges, elimination of consequences of Armenia's military aggression and occupation, restoration of territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan within its internationally recognized borders, prevention of illegal activities in the occupied territories, further strengthening of international stance and influence of Azerbaijan, promotion of good neighborly regional cooperation environment around Azerbaijan, strengthening of security, stability and cooperation in the region, development of mutually beneficial friendly relations and partnership with world countries, realization of energy, transport and economic policy diplomacy agenda of Azerbaijan, promotion of friendship and cooperation in the Caspian basin, conducting of active multilateral diplomacy at the international organizations, ensuring the supremacy of international law in international relations, contributing to international peace and security and combating menace of terrorism, development of multiculturalism, intercultural and interfaith dialogue at international stage, continuation of our humanitarian and cultural diplomacy course, coordination of international cooperation of appropriate government agencies, protection of rights of citizens of the Republic of Azerbaijan abroad and providing of consular support, development of relations with world Azerbaijanis and diaspora activities.

Azerbaijan conducts its independent foreign policy in the backdrop of aggravation of contradictions and intensification of confrontations at the international relations, actions accompanied by blatant violations of international norms and principles, Armenia's ongoing military aggression against Azerbaijan, newly emerged hotbeds of conflict in the immediate proximity of Azerbaijan, growing threat of international terrorism, continued attempts to interfere into the internal affairs of States, geopolitical difficulties of the region in which Azerbaijan is located, disinformation, provocation and hybrid warfare against Azerbaijan in the international information space conducted by Armenia, Armenian lobby circles, and certain forces supporting them.

Aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan and continuation of Azerbaijan’s territories occupation by Armenia remains a major threat to the security of Azerbaijan. 

As a result of Armenia's destructive policy of undermining the negotiating process through political and military provocations, setting a precondition for participation in the negotiations and, maintaining the existing status quo of occupation of Azerbaijan’s territories, it was not possible to achieve progress in the political settlement of Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

For the purposes of political sabotage, holding of so-called “referendum on constitutional changes” in the illegal regime created by Armenia in the temporarily occupied territories of Azerbaijan on February 20, 2017 has been rejected by the international community, once again support to territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan within its internationally recognized borders was reiterated. Statements by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the so-called referendum, Khojaly genocide, the April events, the 25th anniversary of the occupation of Shusha served to disclose real reluctance of Armenia to find political solution to the armed conflict, and to strengthen firm and unequivocal support of the international community to the fair position of Azerbaijan in the conflict settlement.

In June and July, against the background of increased efforts of Azerbaijan together with the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, the visits of the Co-Chairs to the region and the serious calls of the international community to substantive negotiations, Armenia attempted to escalate the situation along the line of contact by military provocations. As a result of the shelling by armed forces of Armenia on July 4, Alkhanli village of Fuzuli region of Azerbaijan 51-year-old Allahverdiyeva Sahiba and her two-year-old granddaughter Guliyeva Zahra were killed and 52-year-old Guliyeva Sarvinaz was seriously injured.

Intentional targeting of civilians and civilian objects and their physical annihilation policy pursued by Armenia were strongly condemned by the international community. The international community has once again witnessed that Armenia is not interested in the political settlement of the conflict; instead, by means of such provocations it pursues a policy of derailing the negotiations and continuing the occupation of Azerbaijani territories. Armenia’s impunity encourages it to new military adventures.

As a result of consistent measures and political-diplomatic pressures exerted by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs and the international community jointly with Azerbaijan, Armenia's attempts to undermine the negotiation process and to set preconditions for the negotiation have been evaded, and Armenia has been urged to return to the negotiation table.

On October 16, Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia held a meeting in Geneva mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs. As a result of the meeting, the Joint Statement by the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan and the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs noted that the negotiations were held in a positive atmosphere and the Foreign Ministers were instructed to continue negotiations on an intensive and substantive basis. In this regard, on November 14 and 16, respectively Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan met in Moscow with the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs. Also, on December 6, a meeting of Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia took place on the margins of the OSCE Ministerial Council in Vienna.

After the Geneva meeting of Heads of State on October 16th, Azerbaijan supports the intensified, substantial and concrete negotiations. Substantive and logical discussions have been held on all the proposals on the negotiation table at the Moscow meeting in November and Vienna meeting in December. Azerbaijan, together with the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs will continue efforts for the soonest settlement of the conflict based on norms and principles of international law, relevant UN Security Council resolutions, the Helsinki Final Act which also constitute the mandate of Minsk Group Co-Chairs and for the change of status quo, which was declared on numerous occasions as unacceptable and unsustainable by the Heads of State of OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries.

The UN Secretary-General made a statement on several times within a year and called for substantial negotiations on the settlement of Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

The political-legal bases of the “stage by stage” settlement of the conflict are already known to everyone. The UN Security Council resolutions 822 (1993), 853 (1993), 874 (1993), 884 (1993) on Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has defined the legal framework for the political process on conflict settlement based on international law, as well as the relevant principles of international humanitarian law.

The UNSC resolutions condemn the occupation of territories of Azerbaijan, emphasize the inadmissibility of land acquisition by use of force, and reaffirm territorial integrity, sovereignty and inviolability of Azerbaijan's borders and demand immediate, full and unconditional withdrawal of occupying forces from all occupied territories of Azerbaijan. UN Security Council resolutions have no time limit. These resolutions are up to date until implementation and are on the agenda.

Under the document of March 23, 1995 on the mandate of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, in running their activities Co-Chairs should base on the relevant resolutions of the UNSC, decisions of OSCE Budapest Summit and the Helsinki Final Act.

During the year, Azerbaijan continued its efforts to bring into the international agenda the fact of occupation of Azerbaijan’s territories by Armenia, the serious social and humanitarian consequences of the aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan and illegal activities of Armenia in the occupied territories. 

The statement adopted by the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) at the 13th Summit of the Organization of Economic Cooperation (ECO) in Islamabad in March this year, express concern about the existing unresolved conflicts in the ECO region, including Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, which hinder the economic growth and realization of the full economic potential of the region and impede the development of economic cooperation on regional as well as broader level, and stress the importance of making increased efforts for the earliest resolution of these conflicts based on the norms and principles of international law, in particular the principles of respect to sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The Joint Statement adopted at the meeting of the Heads of the Government of Organization for Democracy and Economic Development-GUAM held on March 27, 2017 reaffirm member states’ aspirations for the soonest settlement of the continuing conflicts in the territories of the GUAM Member States on the basis of sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of internationally recognized borders of States with the understanding that the territory of a State cannot be the object of acquisition by another State resulting from the threat or use of force.

Joint Communiqué of the Special Meeting of the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs
of the Organization for Democracy and Economic Development – GUAM Member States on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the Establishment of GUAM, as well as GUAM-USA Joint Statement and Joint Press Release of the 5th GUAM-Japan Ministerial Meeting reaffirm respect to universal norms and principles of international law, particularly respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of internationally recognized borders of States.

Within the framework of the 44th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), held on July 10-11 in Abidjan, Republic of Cote D'Ivoire, the "Aggression of the Republic of Armenia against the Republic of Azerbaijan", "Solidarity with the Victims of the Khojaly Massacre of 1992", "Occupation as a result of Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan”, “Destruction of monuments belonging to Islamic history and culture in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan as a result of Armenia’s aggression against Azerbaijan” were adopted.

Agenda item on “Protracted conflicts in the GUAM area and their implications for international peace, security and development” was included in the agenda of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly.

The second meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Contact Group on the aggression of the Republic of Armenia against the Republic of Azerbaijan was held within the participation of Azerbaijani delegation led by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, H.E Mr. Ilham Aliyev in the framework of General Debate of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly.

The EU Joint Declaration of the Eastern Partnership Summit held in Brussels on 24 November with the participation of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, H.E Mr. Ilham Aliyev reflects the EU's commitment to support the territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty of the Eastern Partnership countries, including the Republic of Azerbaijan, as well as a unified position based on the principles of international law in the settlement of conflicts in the Eastern Partnership region. A similar position of the EU member states has been expressed in the resolution of the European Parliament on December 13, 2017, "The annual report on the implementation of Common Foreign and Security Policy", in which European Parliament reiterates its commitment to the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of all Eastern Partnership countries within their internationally recognized borders.

In a press release issued by the European Commission on "Report on European Union (EU) - Azerbaijan Relations in the framework of the revised European Neighborhood Policy (ENP)", Azerbaijan is regarded as an important partner for the EU and states that territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Azerbaijan are supported by the EU.

According the decision issued by the Grand Chamber of European Court of Human Rights in Chiragov and Others v. Armenia, dated December 12, 2017 Armenia must pay the applicants appropriate amount for pecuniary and non pecuniary damage to each of the applicants during the conflict. This decision once again confirmed Armenia as the party responsible for the aggression against Azerbaijan.

The Declaration adopted on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) raises deep concern over the lasting conflicts in the BSEC area, which should be resolved on the basis of full respect for territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty of the BSEC member states and declares the necessity of restoration of territorial integrity of the BSEC states within their internationally recognized borders.

Consistent measures have been continued within the framework of the Justice for Khojaly campaign with a view of presenting war crimes, crimes against humanity and acts of genocide committed by Armenian against the civilian population of Azerbaijan and the Khojaly genocide at the international level as part of Armenia's continued aggression against Azerbaijan.

At the plenary session of the National Assembly (Parliament) of the Republic of Djibouti, by majority vote the resolution on the Khojaly genocide was adopted. The Commission on Foreign Relations of the Senate of the Republic of Colombia has adopted a document on the 25th anniversary of the Khojaly genocide. The Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Republic of Paraguay adopted a statement on condemnation of genocide committed in Khojaly town of Nagorno Karabakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan in 1992 and on expressing solidarity on remembrance of the 25th anniversary of the genocide. At the 44th Session of the OIC in Abidjan, a resolution "Solidarity with the Khojaly Massacre Victims of 1992" was adopted. House of Representatives of the State of Arizona adopted declaration on recognition of Khojaly genocide.

Under the auspices of the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking Countries the international conference on “Khojaly Genocide, crimes against humanity and terrorism” was organized in Ankara in February this year. Secretary General of Turkic Council, Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan and Turkey delivered speech at the event.

Numerous reports on the legal aspects of the conflict have been prepared and circulated by Azerbaijan in the framework of UN and other international organizations and brought to the attention of the international community. As a next step in this direction, the document entitled “Legal opinion on third party obligations with respect to illegal economic and other activities in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan” has been circulated as a document of the UN General Assembly and the Security Council. The document categorizes illegal economic and other activities of Armenia in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, provides international legal opinion on the legal justification of the illegality of Armenia's actions and the legal responsibility of third parties.

The 16th meeting Agenda of the Subcommittee on Trade, Economic and Related Legal Issues between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the EU included a relevant item on the illegal economic activity in the occupied territories, which was also reflected in the Minutes of the meeting. In addition, the European Commission's Trade Directorate (DG Trade) website issued a warning that EU companies engaging in any commercial or business activities in the occupied Nagorno Karabakh and the surrounding territories of Azerbaijan, directly or through business subsidiaries, risk civil and criminal penalties.

Cooperation was continued with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in order to cease the activities of the Karabakh Telecom Company, illegally operating in the occupied territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan. It resulted that relevant positions and requirements of Azerbaijan to this end were published in the ITU’s operational bulletin, and has been distributed among all Member States.

Based on advance information, Armenia’s attempt by deceit to involve foreign nationals into the events organized in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan was prevented and a number of countries have placed travel warnings on the official website of their respective Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the illegality and legal consequences of the visits paid to occupied territories of Azerbaijan. Legal prosecutions have been taken against some foreigners who illegally travel to the occupied territories of Azerbaijan and call for open violation of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and promote the so-called regime created in the occupied territories, and their names have also been included in the list of undesirable persons. A number of people, who were victims of Armenian propaganda, illegally travelled to the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, and later asked for an apology to the Azerbaijani side and asked to remove their names from the list of unwanted individuals. Meanwhile, with the support of the Armenian lobby organizations, holding of the events for promotion of the so-called illegal puppet regime in European countries were prevented.

Release of Dilgam Askerov and Shahbaz Guliyev, illegally taken hostages by armed forces of Armenia while visiting the graves of their parents in the territory of the occupied Kalbajar region of Azerbaijan, was constantly discussed in the meetings with Russian Federation and other Co-Chair countries of OSCE Minsk Group and International Committee of the Red Cross. At the same time, the issue of the fate of more than 4,000 Azerbaijanis, which were considered missing as a result of Armenia's aggression against Azerbaijan, has always been on the agenda.

The initiatives and confidence-building measures to build dialogue and contacts between the Armenian and Azerbaijani communities of the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan were supported.

Azerbaijan has good neighborly and friendly relations with all neighboring countries, except Armenia for its aggression and occupation against Azerbaijan. The relations with the neighboring countries are developing on a strategic basis to ensure the welfare of our peoples, stability, security and prosperity in the region.

Bilateral ties with brotherly Turkey have been successfully developing as strategic allies on the basis of the principle of "One Nation, Two States". High-level mutual visits during the year, friendly meetings of the leaders of our countries, as well as mutual support for in the international arena have played an important role in the further development of our mutual relations. This year was marked by the launching of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway which was the next successful trans-regional project initiated by the two countries and holding of the meeting of the Azerbaijan-Turkey High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council with the participation of the two Presidents. Joint efforts are made to launch the TANAP project as soon as possible.

Mutually beneficial cooperation between Russia and Azerbaijan is developing in the spirit of strategic partnership. The sincere friendly relations and regular meetings between the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Russia have a special role in the development of relations between the two countries. Various events were held both in Moscow and Baku and mutual official visits paid at the level of foreign ministers on the occasion of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. A number of successful projects were implemented to develop economic, trade, humanitarian and interregional cooperation.

Cooperation and friendship with the Islamic Republic of Iran has developed on the principles of good neighborly and mutually beneficial cooperation. The mutual visits at the level of Presidents and sincere meetings within the frameworks of international events give a special boost to the development of our bilateral relations. During the year, the expansion of economic and trade relations between our countries and mutual visits at various levels contributed to the further development of cooperation.

Relations with Georgia are of strategic nature. The launch of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars project this year was one of the most significant events in bilateral relations. Azerbaijani companies have a major investor status in the Georgian market.

Based on common history, ethnic kinship, shared cultural and religious values, Azerbaijan attaches particular emphasis to its relations with friendly Central Asian countries. Azerbaijan’s relations with the Member States of the Commonwealth Independent States (CIS) are also developing in comprehensive manner.

Azerbaijan hosted trilateral meetings at the level of foreign ministers in the formats of Azerbaijan-Turkey-Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey, Azerbaijan-Turkey-Pakistan, Azerbaijan-Turkey-Iran during the year which complements the successful bilateral partnership with neighboring countries and sets a new stage for the qualitative development of partnership in trilateral basis. At the end of each meeting, the Baku Declaration was adopted, by which the priorities for cooperation in the trilateral format and the mutual respect and support of the parties' territorial integrity, sovereignty and inviolability of their borders were reaffirmed.

Successful cooperation in the Azerbaijan-Russia-Iran format, initiated by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, was marked by the next Summit meeting held in Tehran on November 1, 2017 after the Baku meeting held at the level of Presidents in August 2016. The Joint Declaration was adopted at the end of the meeting.

Along with the issues of regional and trilateral cooperation, the Azerbaijan-Russia-Iran format is of particular importance for the development of the North-South transport corridor that connects the Indian Ocean with Northern Europe.

The visits of President Ilham Aliyev to foreign countries, the visits of heads of state and government of other countries to Azerbaijan and the high-level political dialogues held in this direction play an exceptional role for the development of bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and other world countries. During the year, President Ilham Aliyev paid official visits to the State of Qatar, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Poland and Latvia, official and working visits to the Russian Federation, working visits to the Republic of France, Belgium, Turkey, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, the United States of America and Switzerland. At the same time, numerous meetings of President Ilham Aliyev with Heads of State and Government of other countries within the framework of international events, as well as other high-ranking delegations visiting Azerbaijan gave special impetus to the development of bilateral relations.

The Presidents of Kazakhstan, Moldova, Turkmenistan, Bulgaria, the Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina made official visits and the President of Afghanistan paid a working visit to Azerbaijan. The Presidents of Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania, Georgia and Latvia visited Azerbaijan within the framework of V Baku International Forum, the President of Mali within the IV World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue and the President of Turkey visited our country for the launching of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, and for the meeting of Azerbaijan-Turkey High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council. Prime Ministers of Kazakhstan, Georgia and Uzbekistan have visited Azerbaijan to attend the launching ceremony of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway.

Foreign Ministers of Qatar, Georgia, Latvia, Djibouti, United Arab Emirates, Estonia, Colombia, Laos, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Ukraine, Poland, Montenegro, Brazil and Russia have paid an official visit to Azerbaijan during the year. Foreign Ministers of Turkey, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, and the State Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Indian Government paid working visits to our country.

Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan Elmar Mammadyarov made official and working visits to the Russian Federation and official visits to Poland, Malta, Italy, Lithuania, Colombia, Costa Rica, Hungary, Vietnam, Laos, Sweden and Ethiopia, working visits to Kazakhstan, the United States of America and United Arab Emirates. These visits stimulated the development of bilateral political, economic, trade, humanitarian ties, as well as cooperation within the framework of international organizations and the expansion of the legal framework.

2017 was remarkable in terms of the development of relations between Azerbaijan and the European Union. The development of relations with the European Union has been identified as one of the priorities by our President. Azerbaijan's strategic partnership with nine EU member states is an additional stimulus for the development of our cooperation with the EU. The visit of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan H.E Mr. Ilham Aliyev to Brussels in February of this year and the meetings held with the EU leadership gave a special impetus to the development of our relations and officially mandated start of negotiations on a new partnership agreement between the European Union and Azerbaijan. The constructive negotiations in an atmosphere of mutual understanding on the draft agreement are underway between the parties. The negotiations on the finalization of the project "Common Aviation Area Agreement between the European Union and its Member States and the Republic of Azerbaijan" were also held.

The European Union is the largest shareholder in Azerbaijan's trade turnover. There are broad and favorable opportunities for closer cooperation between the parties in political, economic, trade, energy, investment, transport and humanitarian fields. Joint consistent efforts are continued with the EU, including with Italy and other Partners to implement TAP project within time framework. After operation TAP project and Southern Gas Corridor in general, as new source and delivery route of gas will make tangible contribution to the energy security of Europe. 

Relations between Azerbaijan and the United States of America have been continued along the line of development. In this context, United States President Donald Tramp sent a congratulatory letter to the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev on the occasion of May 28 - Republic Day and a letter expressing his best wishes for the 24th Annual International Caspian Oil and Gas Exhibition and Conference in Baku on May 31- June 3. President Ilham Aliyev has sent a congratulatory letter to President Donald Tramp on the occasion of the 4th of July - the Independence Day of the United States of America.

Within the framework of the 22nd World Petroleum Congress held in Istanbul on July 10, President Ilham Aliyev received the United States Secretary of State R.Tillerson. During the meeting the prospects of development of relations between our countries were discussed. There are broad opportunities for cooperation in areas such as energy, transport, investments, and fight against terrorism, aviation and tourism between our countries. Azerbaijan appreciates the support of United States for the development of the TANAP / TAP projects.

The visit of high-ranking officials of the People's Republic of China Communist Party to Azerbaijan, the visit of various Azerbaijani delegations to China and discussions in this regard play an important role in the development of bilateral political, economic and trade relations between the two countries. Azerbaijan supports the "One Belt, One Road" project initiated by China and the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway and the multi-modal transport infrastructure created by our country promises great opportunities for cooperation within this project.

Declaration of the year 2017 as the “Year of Islamic Solidarity” in Azerbaijan by the Decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan and hosting Islamic Solidarity Games in our country gave a special boost to the development of relations with the countries of the Islamic world. Declaration of the year 2017 as the year of Islamic Solidarity, which reflects needs and necessities of current realities has been highly appreciated by the OIC member states and the international community. Year of Islamic Solidarity has made a significant contribution to the strengthening of dialogue and mutual understanding between the Islamic world and other cultures and civilizations. During the year, the Republic of Azerbaijan has closely participated in the discussion of problems that concern the Muslim world in the UN, the Non-Aligned Movement, the OIC and other international platforms.

On May 20-21, 2017, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan H.E. Mr. Ilham Aliyev paid a visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to participate in the Arab-Islam-American Summit in Riyadh.

During the year, political consultations at the level of Foreign Ministries were held with Palestine, Italy, France, Croatia, Slovenia, China, Great Britain, South Korea and Japan.

Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov met with the Foreign Minister of Malaysia within the framework of the OIC Foreign Ministers meeting which was hosted by Malaysia, also in the margins of the international events he met with the foreign ministers of State of Palestine, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, Austria, Italy, Finland, Hungary and Belgium. Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov had a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and External Trade of the Republic of Vanuatu on the sidelines of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly and during the meeting the Ministers signed a Joint Communiqué on the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Republic of Vanuatu. Further in 2017 diplomatic relations established between Azerbaijan and the Bahamas. At different levels exchange of visits were conducted between Azerbaijan and Indonesia and Azerbaijan and Australia.

2017 marked the 25th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between Azerbaijan and 70 countries. In this respect, Azerbaijan exchanged mutual letters at the level of Heads of State and Foreign Ministers, made joint statements, and held exhibitions, seminars and conferences on friendship with those countries.

As a result of President Ilham Aliyev's state, official and working visits to foreign countries in the framework of bilateral cooperation, as well as relevant visits of foreign heads of state to the Republic of Azerbaijan, meetings of Intergovernmental Commissions on cooperation between Azerbaijan and other foreign countries, including visits in various levels, more than 90 bilateral documents have been signed. Documents signed within the framework of these visits cover political, economic, social, humanitarian, cultural and other areas. These documents reflect the important provisions on Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, namely the sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of the international borders of our country.

Development of foreign economic and trade relations as an integral part of bilateral relations and promotion of economic diplomacy agenda is among the priorities. Development of foreign economic relations of the Republic of Azerbaijan, promotion of trade and economic potential of the country, promotion and expansion of export of non-oil products, exploration of new investment opportunities, organizing mutual visits of representatives of state and business circles of Azerbaijan and foreign countries, economic cooperation, holding joint intergovernmental commissions and meetings of working groups, prevention of illegal production of goods and their access to foreign markets from the occupied territories, expansion and deepening of productive cooperation within the framework of the European Union, as well as global and regional economic organizations during 2017 was the basis of the economic activities carried out by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

During the year, Azerbaijan together with 10 other countries held the meetings of Intergovernmental Economic Commissions (United Kingdom, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Croatia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Tajikistan, Vietnam and Kazakhstan) and meeting of the Working Group with Germany.

During the meeting of the Special Working Group at the level of deputy foreign ministers of the Caspian littoral states on the Convention on legal status of the Caspian Sea in Moscow on 30 November - 1 December 2017 and the meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Caspian littoral states held in Moscow on 4-5 December 2017, the parties held consultations and discussed the current status of the draft of “Convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea”, as well as the current status of Draft Sectoral Documents on the co-operation projects in various fields within the Caspian Sea. The draft of "Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea" was agreed among the parties. Based on this project, the parties are entitled to exercise their sovereignty, sovereign and exclusive rights, as well as their jurisdiction in the Caspian Sea. Cooperation in the Caspian Sea will be carried out in the basis of mutual respect to the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of the states, non-use of force, non-interference to internal affairs, as well as based on the principles of ensuring military balance and maritime security, following the confidence building measures in the military field, protection, restoration and rational use of the environment and biological resources in the Caspian Sea. At the same time, the purpose of the Convention is to protect the marine navigation, the protection and use of water resources, the exploitation of the seabed and subsoil resources, and the regulation of other matters in accordance with national legislation and the Convention, as well as the division of the Caspian Sea Aquatorium, the transit of military vessels from the territorial waters of the coastal countries, transit of the ships sailing under the flags of Caspian littoral states to other seas and the world ocean, underwater cables and pipelines, and the rules and regulations for marine scientific research.

Active diplomacy has been carried out in the multilateral basis and throughout the international organizations. In 2017, the Republic of Azerbaijan, actively participated in activities of the United Nations, a universal international organization, and contributed to the implementation of the objectives of the UN Charter in the area of international peace, security and development. Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was a priority within the framework of the UN.

On September 21, the Azerbaijani delegation, led by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, participated in the General Debates of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly. The Head of State delivered a speech at the UN General Assembly on the achievements of our country in the political, socio-economic and humanitarian development model, its progress in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, the reform of the UN structures, the promotion of inter-cultures and interreligious dialogue, Armenia's aggression against Azerbaijan, and presented Azerbaijan's principal position and strategic vision on the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to the international community, attended a number of high-level events and bilateral meetings.

The capital city of Baku has been nominated for hosting EXPO 2025. In the context of the United Nations Sustainable Development, the topic entitled "Invest in Human Capital to Build a Better Future" was presented by Azerbaijan. Under the leadership of Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva, the First Vice-President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, a promotional campaign is being held in connection with Azerbaijan's nomination for EXPO 2025.

As a member of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) for the years 2017-2019, Azerbaijan has continued its activities towards implementation of international development goals.

At the 73rd Annual Session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) on "Sustainable Energy for Regional Cooperation" held in Bangkok on May 15-19, 2017, the project titled the "Strengthening Regional Cooperation on Sustainable Energy Development in Asia and the Pacific" prepared by the initiative of Azerbaijan and later joined by Russia, with co-authoring of eight countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Iran, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Pakistan) was unanimously adopted.

During the year, our country has been actively involved in international cooperation in fighting against terrorism, organized crime, drug trafficking, cybercrime and money laundering, as well as other new threats and challenges.

In 2017, the Republic of Azerbaijan has continued to fulfill its international commitments in the field of arms control and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their components. Relevant work has been carried out with the international partners in these areas, contribution to the development of international resolutions and documents was made and the bilateral and multilateral cooperation has been developed. Since May 2017, for the first time, a membership of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the Executive Body of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has started.

Within a short period of time after the Republic of Azerbaijan joined the Non-Aligned Movement, it was able to take advantage of the political consultations and practical cooperation opportunities of the organization. Azerbaijan will chair the Non-Aligned Movement for 2019-2022. The proposal by Azerbaijan to host the next mid-term Ministerial Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement in 2018 was supported by member states. Preparatory work is carried out for the mid-term Ministerial Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement, which is to be held in Baku on April 3-6, 2018.

The notable aspect of being a represented in electoral bodies of international organizations is the fact that in 2017, for the first time the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of Population of the Republic of Azerbaijan was elected as a member of the International Labor Organization's Governing Body for 2017-2019. The Republic of Azerbaijan has been re-elected to the Executive Council of the World Tourism Organization for 2018-2021. In addition, the representative of the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of Population of the Republic of Azerbaijan was re-elected to the UN Committee on Migrant Workers for 2018-2021. In 2017, Baku has been nominated for hosting World EXPO 2025 exhibition.

Azerbaijan as a full member has actively cooperated with regional organizations such as OSCE, Council of Europe, OIC, CIS, Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States, Economic Cooperation Organization, GUAM, BSEC and others. Secretary General of the World Customs Organization, Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Secretary General of Turkic Council, Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization, Secretary General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Secretary General of the Economic Cooperation Organization, Secretary General of the South Asia Regional Cooperation Organization, Secretary General of ISESCO, Secretary General of the International Telecommunication Union, Director General of UNESCO and Chairman of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly paid a visit to Azerbaijan.

The Turkic Council is an important platform to develop our relations with the friendly and brotherly member countries based on shared ethnic kinship, historical and cultural ties. 

The President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, attended the first OIC Summit on Science and Technology held in Kazakhstan on September 10, as well as the Extraordinary Summit on Al-Quds issue initiated by Turkey, the Chairman of the OIC, on December 12. The Azerbaijani delegation also attended the 44th ministerial meeting of the OIC in Cote d'Ivoire, the OIC ministerial meeting within the framework of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly, and the meeting of Information Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Conference.

On 20-21 July 2017 Baku hosted International Conference on the Question of Jerusalem jointly organized with the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestine People and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation under the theme “Jerusalem and International community: ensuring political and economic support”.

Within the framework of his visit to Pakistan to attend the 13th summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization, held on 1 March 2017 in Islamabad, the President of Azerbaijan H.E. Mr. Ilham Aliyev held meetings with President H.E. Mr. Mamnoon Hussain and former Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif.

On October 20, President H.E. Mr. Ilham Aliyev at the invitation of the President of the Republic of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan attended the Istanbul-hosted D-8 9th Summit of the Developing Eight Organization for Economic Cooperation (D-8) under the motto "Expanding Opportunities through Cooperation” as a special guest.

Azerbaijan was actively involved in the work and the development of sectoral cooperation of the GUAM which celebrates 20th anniversary of the establishment. On October 9 Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov participated at the Meeting of GUAM Member States Council of Ministers for Foreign Affairs which took place in Tbilisi on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the establishment of GUAM.

In the Summit Declaration dedicated to the 25th anniversary Summit of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation held in Istanbul on 22 March, inclusion of a number of provisions reflecting the interests of our country have been achieved. From the second half of 2018, the Republic of Azerbaijan will chair the BSEC.

The “Heart of Asia” – Istanbul Process (HoA IP) 7th Ministerial Conference was held in Baku, Azerbaijan under the theme “Security and Economic Connectivity towards a Strengthened Heart of Asia Region” on December 1. At the inauguration ceremony H.E. Mr. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and H.E. Mr. Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan delivered speeches. More than 250 delegates from the participating and supporting countries and international organizations of the Istanbul Process attended the conference. At the end of the Conference Baku Declaration was adopted.

The partnership between Republic of Azerbaijan and NATO has been successfully continued during 2017. This year the Republic of Azerbaijan has continued its participation and contribution in NATO-led Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan.

President Ilham Aliyev visited NATO Headquarters on 23 November, met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenber and delivered a speech at the NATO’s supreme body, North Atlantic Council.

On 12 April within the framework of the visit to Poland Elmar Mammadyarov participated at the meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Visegrad (V4) Group and Eastern Partnership countries held in Warsaw.

Cooperation with African Union and League of Arab States was continued as an observer state status of Azerbaijan. Minister of Foreign Affairs Elmar Mammadyarov within the framework of his visit to Ethiopia met with Chairperson of the African Union Commission, African Union Commissioners for Peace, Security and Economic Affairs.

At the headquarters of the African Union was held a presentation of ASAN concept that became a national brand of Azerbaijan. Cooperation with the Gulf Cooperation Council has been developed and a business forum was held between Member States and Azerbaijan with the support of the GCC Secretariat. Relations with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization have been continued based on a status of Dialogue Partner.

Within the framework of multilateral cooperation, international and legal examination of documents on cooperation in various fields with the United Nations, its specialized agencies, other international and regional organizations was conducted during the year, relevant references were prepared and measures were taken to coordinate a number of draft documents.

In 2017, the Republic of Azerbaijan continued closely cooperate with international organizations responsible for promoting human rights, democracy, rule of law and good governance principles. During the year, our country closely involved in the activities of the Council of Europe, OSCE and UN related institutions and contributed to the activities implemented.

Submitted "General Overview" document of our country to the United Nations (UN) human rights treaty bodies with periodic reports was prepared in accordance with the Decree No. 2826 of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan dated April 28, 2017 and submitted to the UN’s Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner on behalf of Azerbaijan Republic.

During the year Azerbaijan continuously participated in the discussions on various issues held in the Third Committee of the General Assembly and UNHRC and co-sponsored several resolutions. In addition, active work has been made to promote the ASAN concept among UN human rights institutions and UN member states.

To fulfill the OSCE commitments in the field of human dimension, the cooperation continued with OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and other institutions.

The implementation of the Council of Europe’s Action Plan for Azerbaijan 2014-2017 has been successfully continued and completed in 2017. The work has already been started on the preparation of the next Action Plan based on the mutual consent of both sides.

In 2017 National Commission of the Republic of Azerbaijan for UNESCO has continued its activities and has implemented a number of projects in various fields. The First Vice-President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva has indispensable role in the development of successful cooperation between Azerbaijan and UNESCO, in the promotion of the rich culture of Azerbaijani people in the international arena. During this year our country was actively represented at the 39th session of UNESCO General Conference, Committee meetings, UNESCO National Commissions.

This year a number of events have been held in the country and UNESCO headquarters on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Azerbaijan's membership in the UNESCO.

12th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage was held in Jeju Island of the Republic of Korea on 4-5 December, 2017.

Two nominations of our country presented to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of UNESCO “Dolma making and sharing tradition, a marker of cultural identity” and “Art of crafting and playing with Kamantcheh/Kamancha, a bowed string musical instrument” (jointly presented with İslamic Republic of Iran) have been reviewed and adopted by the relevant Committee.

Resolution titled “Promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace” adopted by UNGA on December 11 is referring to the World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue held in Baku every two years and this event is described as a leading global platform for promoting cultural dialogue. Furthermore, in the report “Promotion of a culture of peace and interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace” presented at the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly on 19 September by the UN Secretary-General, it was emphasized that the "Baku Process" implemented since 2008 takes a leading place for the promotion of intercultural dialogue, and the World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue has confirmed itself as a key global platform.

As a diplomatic center of the region, the role and influence of Azerbaijan, which hosts prominent and influential international events has grown further. Preferred status of Baku as a place for meeting of Chief of General Staff of Russia and Joint Chief of Staff of United States and also for the meeting of Chairman of the NATO Military Committee with the Chief of General Staff of Russia is another examples of that.

Azerbaijan International Development Agency (AIDA) was established in 2011 under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan and supports poverty reduction, development of science, culture and health, application of communication and information technologies, efficient use of energy resources, various grant programs, as well as other humanitarian and technical projects within the framework of bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the developing countries. More than 40 African, Asian and Latin American countries have benefited from the programs implemented by AIDA.

With the help of AIDA and Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan in India the delivery of the humanitarian aid, mainly food products sent by the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Republic of Azerbaijan according to the Order of the President of Azerbaijan with the purpose to render aid to Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar on 9 September, 2017 was ensured. Also, in response to the call of the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres with the order of the President of Azerbaijan through AIDA Azerbaijan provided financial aid via the United Nations for the people in Somalia, Yemen, South Sudan and north-eastern Nigeria stricken by famine threat as the result of humanitarian crisis and to Yemen within the framework of High Level Donor Conference.

During this year through MFA and our diplomatic missions the protection of the rights of Azerbaijani citizens’ abroad and necessary consular assistance has been provided. In 2017, three people taken hostage in Libya were released and brought to the country.

In order to improve the legal status of Azerbaijani citizens residing abroad, to take measures to provide them with the legal assistance on civil, family and crime issues, bilateral consular consultations between Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan and Croatia, Azerbaijan and Russia and in multilateral format within the framework of GUAM (Organization for Democracy and Economic Development) in Ukraine was held. 

In accordance with Decree No 1255 dated 22 February 2017 of the President of Azerbaijan on additional measures to strengthen the position of the Republic of Azerbaijan as a Digital Trade Corridor and Expand Foreign Trade Transactions, “Procedure of granting Electronic Signature Certificate to Non-Residents through Diplomatic Representations and Consulates of the Republic of Azerbaijan” was prepared and approved by the Decree No 1598 dated 12 September 2017 of the President of Azerbaijan. Furthermore, connection of the MFA to “ASAN pay” system was ensured.

The terms of issuing and using electronic visas through the "ASAN Visa" system were developed jointly with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and “ASAN service” center of the State Agency for Public Service and Social Innovations under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Subsequently, it was approved by MFA and ASAN Service.

For the purpose of promotion and development of tourism in our country 14 more foreign countries were added to the list of countries with electronic visa through the ASAN Visa system as a result of measures taken to simplify the procedure for issuing electronic visas to foreigners and stateless persons seeking to travel to the Republic of Azerbaijan. Our embassies have undertaken relevant measures to improve the efficiency of visa issuance, as well as promotion of electronic tourist visas. At the same time, relevant agreements were signed with different countries for the reciprocal implementation of visa-free travel for persons with diplomatic and service passports.

Foreigners who visited Azerbaijan for participation in the international events like 4th World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue, 4th Islamic Solidarity Games, Formula 1 Azerbaijan Gran Prix race, Executive Committee meeting of European Olympic Committee, International forum of the CIS countries, Baltic States and Georgia, the final round of the “European Women's Volleyball Championship", the 13th World Scout Youth Forum, 41st World Scout Conference, “Heart of Asia” – Istanbul Process 7th Ministerial Conference held in Azerbaijan in 2017 have been provided with effective issuance of entry visas at international airports of our country.

With consent of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Azerbaijan the draft Decision of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Azerbaijan on approval of the “Procedure for the Service Attestation of persons holding administrative positions implementing Administrative and Technical Service of Diplomatic Service Officers and Diplomatic Service Offices" has been prepared and approved by Decision No 499 of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Azerbaijan dated November 17, 2017.

ADA University's international relations have expanded and new relationships have been established with diplomatic education institutions of other countries. ADA University currently has cooperation with more than 20 diplomatic training centers. At the same time, ADA University is implementing a student exchange program with about 40 leading universities in the world. Continuously special professional development courses have been organized at ADA University for personnel from MFA and other governmental agencies.

Consistent activities have been carried out to strengthen Diaspora's activity, enhance coordination between diplomatic missions and diaspora organizations, and organization of our diaspora.

This year Peru and Costa-Rica opened embassies in Azerbaijan. 64 foreign embassies, representatives of 12 international organizations and 4 General Consulates function in Azerbaijan. Honorary Consuls of Azerbaijan were appointed to Austria, Sudan and Djibouti and Ethiopia’s Honorary Consul was appointed to Azerbaijan.

Active cooperation with international media, research centers and non-governmental organizations was carried out to convey the foreign and domestic policy of Azerbaijan, the realities of Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to the international community.

Articles and interviews in the international media were consistently published. An active and interactive “digital diplomacy” policy has been implemented through the social network profiles of MFA.

Disclosing the disinformation materials against Azerbaijan published in some biased international media and publication of materials reflecting our position by using the right of reply were provided.

Within the framework of cooperation with the world's leading print and television outlets, programs on the history, culture, art, cuisine and tourism potential of Azerbaijan have been prepared in conjunction with other governmental agencies.

In close cooperation with local media, it was provided that the issues related to the foreign policy of our country were delivered to the wider public and relevant inquiries were responded in an operative manner.

Visit of the heads of diplomatic missions accredited in Azerbaijan to the Cocuq Marcanlı village of Jabrail and Shikharkh village of Tartar district was organized with the aim to familiarize with the situation in the contact line and measures taken by the government of Azerbaijan to improve the living conditions of local civilian population, including IDPs.

Visits of military attachés and representatives of foreign media operating in our country to contact line were also organized. The visit of the diplomatic corps to the Sheki and Gax regions was organized with the aim to familiarize them with the socioeconomic development and tourism opportunities of the regions of our country.

Remarkable days for our country, namely 28 May Republic Day, Remembrance Day of the National Leader Heydar Aliyev, Black January, Khojaly Genocide and other days were held by our diplomatic missions throughout the year.

In accordance with the duties and tasks set by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, H.E. Mr. Ilham Aliyev, independent and multilateral foreign policy based on the national interests of the Republic of Azerbaijan will be continued in the upcoming year as well.

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