Caspian breakthrough of Azerbaijan: New victory of the foreign policy of President Ilham Aliyev

Mon 13 Aug 2018 13:42 GMT | 17:42 Local Time

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News.Az reprints from Day.Az an article headlined "Caspian breakthrough of Azerbaijan: New victory of the foreign policy of President Ilham Aliyev" by Nurani.

The meeting of the heads of the Caspian states in Aktau of Kazakhstan was called historical even before it was started. And there was not a drop of exaggeration: after 22 years (!) of negotiations for this summit, the text of the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea was finally agreed upon and prepared for signing.

Perhaps the diplomats will long analyze and comment on this document. Moreover, a new "legal precedent" has been created here: the Caspian Sea, according to it, is not recognized either by the sea or by the lake, there is a unique legal model operates. And although this is undoubtedly not the end of the negotiations, and many other "working" agreements are yet to be agreed upon and signed, it is clear that the long period of uncertainty in the Caspian has finally ended.

"The signing of the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea is a historical document, Azerbaijan has worked constructively and contributed at all stages of the preparation of this document, as well as other Caspian countries, in order for this document to be signed," President Ilham Aliyev said at the ceremony. "And before the signing of the Convention, the Caspian Sea was a sea of security, a sea of stability, and our relations, both bilateral and multilateral, were the guarantor of stability and security in the Caspian. There is a high level of cooperation, trust between the Caspian countries and this is the main guarantor of security and stability. Today, security and stability in the Caspian are determined by the Convention, which we signed. Naturally, this opens up broad prospects for close cooperation between the Caspian countries, addressing issues of an economic, transport nature, issues that will contribute to improving the living standards of our peoples. "

It is significant that already in Aktau, right after President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimukhamedov signed the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea, the heads of relevant structures of the Caspian states signed other important documents stemming from this Convention - the Protocol on Cooperation in the Field with the Fight against Organized Crime in the Caspian Sea, the Agreement between the governments of the Caspian states on trade and economic cooperation, the Agreement between the Governments of the Caspian littoral states on cooperation in the field of transport, the Agreement on the Prevention of Incidents in the Caspian Sea and the Protocol on Cooperation and Interaction of Border Agencies. A truly beautiful stroke in the program of the summit was the joint walk of the heads of state along the seacoast, and the release of sturgeon fry into this very sea.

However, already today, in "hot pursuit", we can talk about a great, truly strategic victory of Azerbaijani diplomacy.

Here you need a little explanation. The word "victory" determines the presence of "defeated" and "losers". But here is a victory of a special kind - the decisions made in Aktau, meet the interests of all the Caspian states. But the very philosophy of the new document on the legal status of the Caspian was predetermined by Azerbaijani projects.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, President Ilham Aliyev recalled: "Next year we will celebrate the 70th anniversary of oil production in the Caspian Sea, which is the first oil production in offshore fields."

It is clear, and more. The "Contract of the Century" signed on September 20, 1994, was ahead of its time in the same way. In the conditions of uncertainty and instability of the nineties in the Caspian Sea, the third "oil boom" started with the participation of the world's leading oil and gas companies. The status of the sea has not yet been determined, the diplomats have not even begun negotiations yet, it was not yet clear how to divide - the bottom, the thickness, the surface of the water, and in Azerbaijan we have already started new large-scale oil and gas projects. The diplomats negotiated the status of the Caspian, and Azerbaijan built and launched its main export pipeline Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan. Today, the Southern Gas Corridor is being successfully implemented - already a gas "super project", which is rightly called the "Contract of the 21st Century". And the first Contract of the Century was successfully re-signed. New oil and gas projects are being discussed, again with the participation of the world's leading companies.

And there is no doubt: it was the Azerbaijani oil and gas and now logistics projects that put the Caspian "five" before the need to develop and sign a new document on the legal status of the Caspian. The one that operated in the years of the USSR's existence no longer met the Caspian realities.

And now in the Caspian Sea, and again on the initiative of Azerbaijan, new projects are developing, already in the field of logistics, transport, and infrastructure. President Ilham Aliyev also reminded the participants of the summit: "Azerbaijan pays much attention to the development of infrastructure, according to Davos World Economic Forum, Azerbaijan ranks 26th in the world in terms of infrastructure development, and the competitiveness index is 35th", the head of state said. He went on saying that multi-billion investments in the transport sector have turned Azerbaijan into one of the important transport and logistics centers of Eurasia, Azerbaijan plays an important transit role for the Caspian countries and this role is increasing every year. "In October 2017, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars road, which connects the railways of Asia and Europe, was launched.  Last year 191 containers were transported by this route and about 1.400 containers for the 6 months of this year. We look forward to a manifold increase in freight on this route in the coming years," Ilham Aliyev said.

President Ilham Aliyev also recalled about another project: "Azerbaijan also plays an important role in the creation and development of the international transport corridor North-South. We attach great importance to this project. All work for its implementation on the territory of Azerbaijan is completed. Last year, 1,700 tons were transported on the route North-South through the territory of Azerbaijan, and only for 7 months of this year - 175,000 tons of cargo, which means more than 100-fold increase in the volume of cargo transportation compared to last year." And one more quote: "Azerbaijan has a fleet of more than 260 ships in the Caspian Sea, some of which play a key role in ensuring uninterrupted transit of cargoes." In 2013, a shipyard that meets the latest technological standards was commissioned in Azerbaijan. Ships of all types, including cargo vessels, tankers, warships, vessels used in oil and gas operations, have been constructed and commissioned, dozens of vessels have been built and commissioned, and about 100 ships have been repaired. The "Khankendi" vessel, which was put into operation in 2017, worth about 400 million US dollars. It is one of 10 existing ships in the world constructed in accordance with the highest international standards. I believe that the Caspian countries can take advantage of the capabilities of this plant."

It means orders, investments, jobs for Azerbaijan, especially in the non-oil sector. Here, the most recognizable, iconic style of the economic strategy implemented in our country under the leadership of President Ilham Aliyev was manifested as well as possible: start from the basis, from the infrastructure, do not expect at random and "the rest will somehow settle down and follow".

Azerbaijani infrastructure projects include railways, highways, shipbuilding, and a new commercial port. Construction of the international sea trading port of Alyat was completed in Azerbaijan in May 2010. The cargo handling capacity of the port is 15 million tons, and in the case of an increase in the volume of transit cargo, the port's capacity can be brought up to 25 million tons in a short time.

"The construction of the port of Alat is another contribution of Azerbaijan to the development of transport and logistics infrastructure in the Caspian Sea," the head of state recalled.

These are truly revolutionary changes, a positive effect from which already today is felt not only by Azerbaijan but also by its neighbors across the Caspian. And these projects, which are beneficial for everyone, create an economic basis for a very attractive political "superstructure" - the very atmosphere of dialogue and cooperation, without which a diplomatic breakthrough in Aktau would hardly have been possible.

Here, probably, it would be possible to put a period. And I express a hope that the new document will open the way for the implementation of new mutually beneficial projects in the Caspian. But during his speech in Aktau, President Ilham Aliyev also recalled: "Azerbaijan makes a significant contribution to the strengthening of regional stability and security. The major threat to regional security is the occupation policy pursued by Armenia against Azerbaijan. As a result of Armenia's aggression, about 20 percent of the internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan is occupied, more than one million of our compatriots found themselves in the situation of refugees and IDPs. Armenia carried out ethnic cleansing against our people. Many leading international organizations adopted decisions and resolutions in connection with the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. These documents require the resolution of the conflict within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. Over 20 years ago, the UN Security Council adopted 4 resolutions in connection with the conflict , which demanded the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces from the occupied lands. These resolutions have not lost their force.

However, Armenia does not fulfill them, rudely violates the norms and principles of international law. Armenia is trying to pursue a policy of illegal settlement in the occupied territories. In the occupied territories, Armenia destroyed numerous historical, architectural, religious monuments of the Azerbaijani people. Nagorno-Karabakh and the 7 other occupied regions around it are the historical primordial Azerbaijani land, and the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict should find its solution within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan recognized by all countries of the world. "

This is the position that Azerbaijan has declared and declares for a long time. But today it already sounds with taking into account the new alignment of forces in the region and against the background of the significantly increased authority and influence of Azerbaijan. The behavior of Azerbaijan and Armenia are two "poles", two philosophies of behavior on the international arena. And if in Baku, despite the conflict, the occupation of their lands, the humanitarian catastrophe that they experienced, could find ways for their social and economic development, then ... the rapidly deserted, squeezed and impoverished Armenia is a perfect example of what the policy of encroaching on someone else's territory. 

This means that many of the results of the victory that Azerbaijani diplomacy has won in the Caspian Sea is yet to come.




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