Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan His Excellency Elmar Mammadyarov’s Speech at the meeting of the Council of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States (CCTS) Astana September 10, 2015

Distinguished Ministers,
Mr. Secretary General,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Expressing my delight for participating in today’s meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Turkic Council, I greet the delegations from friendly and fraternal countries and representatives of relevant bodies of the Council. I avail myself of this opportunity to express my gratitude to the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan for extended warm hospitality and excellent arrangement of our meeting.
Our organization was established on the basis of our common language, history, culture and traditions. One of the main priorities of the Turkic Council is to develop and strengthen multilateral cooperation among the member states through concrete projects in various fields, like security, economy, energy, transport, culture, tourism, education, science and technology.
1.     Security challenges
We strongly believe that peace and stability are much more needed to have sustainable development and prosperity. Azerbaijan makes its contributions to the international cooperation in the field of regional security and fight against terrorism. We make every effort to maintain peace, stability and wellbeing not only in our region, but also beyond it.
Two member states of our organization: Azerbaijan and Turkey have strengthened military ties in the last years; they have engaged in more frequent and larger military exercises in both countries. Such an increasing military ties between Azerbaijan and Turkey will improve combat readiness and ability, as well as organization of interaction giving both countries more flexibility in the strategic, but sensitive Caucasus region.
Availing myself of his opportunity I would like to extend my deepest condolences to our brother Mr. Feridun Sinirlioglu and the families of victims of the recent heinous terror attacks that took place in Turkey.
Recent developments all over the world once again confirmed that the main pillars to maintain peace and stability are the respect by the states for each other’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of internationally recognized borders, as well as refraining from policy of aggression. Nevertheless, Azerbaijan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity have been violated for more than 20 years as result of Armenian occupation. 20% of Azerbaijan’s land is still under occupation. Ethnic cleansing policy against our indigenous population executed by Armenia and almost one million Azerbaijanis became refugees and internally displaced. All international norms and principles, including basic conventional human rights were impudently violated. Still now, Armenia flagrantly ignores four UN Security Council resolutions adopted in 1993 on immediate, unconditional and complete withdrawal of Armenian occupying forces from Azerbaijan’s lands.
2. Economic privileges

As far as economic cooperation within the Turkic Council, it is important to highlight that geographic location of member states provides an ample opportunity to benefit from our countries’ competitive transit potential. Therefore, I believe that developing transport infrastructure, and most importantly, interconnectivity and infrastructure in our geography should remain one of key areas of cooperation. An ever increasing demand for passenger and cargo transportation across Eurasia makes it imperative to strengthen the East-West transport corridor (specifically its Trans-Caspian component) that would undoubtedly help revive the Historic Silk Road so much cherished by our ancestors. It is also important to develop logistic capabilities of our ports and promote policies on simplifying the transit system and increasing the quality of multimodal cargo transportation. The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway due to be commissioned next year will pave the way for competitive, reliable and time-friendly shipments of passengers and cargo from China to Europe and vice versa and would help unlock the huge transit potential of our countries and generate a stable source of income for our economies. To this end, we strongly support the regular meetings of relevant ministries and entities in the framework of the Turkic Council and welcome proposals that would strengthen the capability of the afore-mentioned transport corridor. 
As you are aware, Azerbaijan has always offered its infrastructure for the transit of the Caspian energy resources to Western markets. Today, Azerbaijan also plays a significant role as an initiator and enabler of mega energy projects of trans-regional importance, such the Southern Gas Corridor. The expansion of the South Caucasus Pipeline and construction of TANAP and TAP pipelines, main components of the Southern Gas Corridor, is well under way. It will connect the giant Shah Deniz gas field in Azerbaijan through Georgia and Turkey to Europe.
We also support initiatives on cooperation in ICT, renewable energy, small and medium size entrepreneurship development and private sector engagement among the member states. I would like to emphasize the importance of our partnership in tourism and exploring newinvestment opportunities in this sector.

3.     Humanitarian collaboration affairs  
Cooperation in the humanitarian field is one of the main areas of our partnership. We do appreciate the work done by TURKSOY which have played a significant role in promoting culture of Turkic nations since its inception. I think it’s very important for Turkic Academy and Turkic Cultural Heritage Fund, which have been founded in 2012, to complete relevant procedures and to act as international organizations as soon as possible. Regular meetings of ministers and working groups in the field of education will allow us to implement joint projects in this direction. Projects like preparation of joint book on Turkic history, interuniversity association, student-teacher exchange programs, will give an impetus to the development of our cooperation in this field. Yet another promising dimension of our engagement within the Turkic Council could be youth and sports.         
Taking into account the expansion of the global information space with each passing day and the use of it as a powerful outreach activity mechanism, holding this year’s Summit under the slogan “cooperation in the fields of media and information” meets requirements of today. We do appreciate cooperation in this field and support recently adopted resolutions during the first meeting of the heads of media and information structures of the Member States in Astana.
It is important to continue cooperation towards coordination and mutual support for the candidacies of the member states and common position within international organizations, especially United Nations. We have to strengthen our efforts in the direction of gaining observer status for Turkic Council to UN and OIC. On the other hand the Council’s cooperation with OIC, OSCE, UN agencies - World Tourism Organization and UN Development Programme is laudable.
In conclusion, I would like to wish successful deliberations to this important event and express our high appreciation to Turkic Council Secretary General and his highly dedicated team for the professionalism in the realization of the goals and principles of our Organization.
See you on informal meeting in New York on the margin of the United Nations General Assembly.
Thank you.

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