Saturday, December 15, 2012

Azerbaijan: Andorra and Azerbaijan Set to Strengthen Ties During Andorran Presidency of Council of Europe

SOURCE Azerbaijan Monitor

Following Andorra's recent assumption of the rotating Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, Andorra and Azerbaijan expressed their commitment to enhance cooperation at the political and economic level, including the resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict and common projects in various areas such as energy, tourism and sports.

Upon the initiative of MP Elkhan Suleymanov , the Head of the Azerbaijani Delegation to EURONEST Parliamentary Assembly, a delegation from Azerbaijan comprising pro-government and opposition MPs, the Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy Minister of Economic Development paid an official visit to Andorra.

At a high-level conference entitled "Azerbaijan in the 21st Century" hosted at Andorra's General Council, the Speaker of the Andorran Parliament, Vicenç Mateu, welcomed the delegation, stressing that "Azerbaijan and Andorra may be small countries but they have a big say in the international scene," adding that "both countries have very old traditions but are at the same time relatively young as both adopted their constitutions only in the 1990s."

"Our countries have a soul," he said. "We are not only proud of our history but we aim at being dynamic countries with significant growth rates to project ourselves into the future."

Elkhan Suleymanov echoed the sentiment, adding that "We may have different religions but we are both democratic countries with a rich heritage."

He stressed that Azerbaijan is a loyal and reliable partner of Europe in the area of energy security and global peace and security, but expressed regret that Europe remains silent when it comes to the restoration of the rights of approximately one million Azerbaijanis who were displaced as a result of the occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and its seven surrounding regions by Armenia some 20 years ago.

"This is an unacceptable human rights violation of Azerbaijani people and caused 431,5 billion dollars of economic damage to our country," he said. "I don't understand why the Council of Europe is trying to single out Azerbaijan with allegations of political prisoners but fails to address such an important human rights issue."

Suleymanov further called for respect of the resolutions adopted by PACE, the European Parliament, OSCE and the United Nations, condemning the military occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and reiterated an amendment he succeeded to introduce to the report on Azerbaijan in the Monitoring Committee of the Council of Europe earlier this week in Paris.

"I am confident that Andorra will have a more objective and constructive position regarding Azerbaijan during its chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on the Nagorno-Karabakh question, which is top priority in our foreign policy," Suleymanov said.

The delegation held separate meetings with Fransec Camp Torres, Andorran Minister of Tourism and Environment, and Jordi Alcoe Font , Andorran Minister of Economics, which highlighted the potential for cooperation between the two countries, especially in tourism and sports.

Last week, Azerbaijan won its bid to be the first country to host the European Games in 2015. "This shows our commitment to the European values and is another avenue of cooperation between the Principality of Andorra and Azerbaijan," concluded Suleymanov.

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