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Morocco intends to raise economic relations with Azerbaijan to strength of political ties

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Baku, 23 December 2016 – Newtimes.az

Hassan Hami

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

of the Kingdom of Morocco to the Republic of Azerbaijan

On October 18th, 2016, the Republic of Azerbaijan will celebrate the 25th Anniversary of its independence. The Government and the people of Azerbaijan are entitled to enjoy the event and make it as memorable as ever. They are rightly in position to show to the world how much they are willing to get their country evolve better, and meet challenges ahead with the utmost confidence, trust and good faith.

Yet, the celebration is an opportunity to assess what has been reached over the last twenty five years: obviously records of main achievements, but also some unexpected disappointments. What went right, and what went wrong? How a country like Azerbaijan managed to tackle obstacles met, fully or partly? How the process of building a modern state was dealt with? How the dilemma of starting from scratches or building on what had been reached was sorted out? What would be the best way to associate historical events with a new start that would overtake potential hurdles, and cement new bonds of citizenship and civism and contribute, therefore, to social peace?

Building a modern state is not a fairy tale. How would it be safe to capitalize on the past achievements, erase susceptibility and misjudgment pertaining to the modern History of Azerbaijan and, by the same token, turn the page of misperceptions and meet challenges? These challenges are various and, somehow, cynical. They are cynical in a sense that they do not leave room for improvisation or for an easy-handling process, so to speak. They are not, as many people might think, linked to ‘’take it or leave it ultimatum’’, either.

Well, Azerbaijan is doing quite well, despite numerous obstacles, which require quick responses and a sound management. Azerbaijan is working to get Azerbaijani people further recover and nurture their confidence in their country. This would not be an easy task given the fact that the social expectations are very high. However, the decision-makers are fulfilling their duty by strengthening the Azerbaijani identity and make of it as a shield as well as a compass in order to protect it and drive it toward safety.

The Azerbaijani identity has survived over centuries. It has participated in cementing the national culture and endeavored to confirm Azerbaijan role on the regional and global levels. Azerbaijan is well known for being a multiethnic society, but no social ostracism is recorded. Azerbaijan is also a secular country; all three monotheist religions are respected and protected not only by law, but also -and mainly- by the peaceful and civilized nature of the Azerbaijani people. Yet people who might be framed as agnostics do not suffer from their free choice.

Therefore, Azerbaijan is a good example about the best way to efficiently improve integration of different components of the society, and abhor all sorts of exclusions for ethnic, social or religious purposes. This has been the case throughout the History of Azerbaijan, despite some periods of political turmoil, social unease or foreign involvement. In this respect, it is worth mentioning the example of few cemeteries in Baku, where deceased people of different faiths lay side by side and rest in peace. Cemeteries are also a cornerstone and a reference for scholars and researchers seeking to learn about Azerbaijan History. The way cemeteries are conserved and protected in Azerbaijan is really fascinating.

Culture and civilization are also highlighted in different aspects of the daily life of Azerbaijani people. This has been highly demonstrated when, in 2009, Baku was designed the Capital of the Islamic Culture. Not only monuments were restored and rejuvenated, but also visitors, who had never heard about Nizami Ganjavi, Fizuli, Narimanov, Sayyud Yahya Bakuvi, to name but a few, got acquainted with their prolific scientific, artistic and poetic productions, so dear to the Azerbaijani people. And even better, the visitors got to learn about the modern History of Azerbaijan. The History of Azerbaijan, which would not be well understood without learning about the role the late President and National Leader of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev, had played. Building strong states needs charismatic leaders. Sound political transitions require leaders who are wise enough to be able to listen to their people’s voices, and act accordingly. President Heydar Aliyev was among those leaders.

This is true because building a modern state, in the framework of the nation-building paradigm, is hard to fulfill unless the leadership has a vision, a visibility, and a true will to work hard to lead the country ahead. This is highly recognized not only nationwide but also worldwide. The President Ilham Aliyev is doing the same with the aim of improving the economic situation and speeding up political, economic and social reforms.

Nevertheless, every government is requested to combine between the need for strong institutions, generally accepted by peoples, and a comfortable place on the regional and international political, economic and strategic chessboard. The issues are multiple, the solutions are few. Therefore, the main task of the political, economical and social actors is to set priorities and shape hierarchies of issues. Yet, again, this is not an easy task, given the geographic location of Azerbaijan.

Since the first days of its independence, Azerbaijan has been working to make geography and history factors of coexistence and friendship. Azerbaijan hosted several international conferences dedicated to intercultural and interreligious dialogues. This also is part of the Azerbaijani mind; which has been shaped through History thanks to brilliant scholars, thinkers and enlightened decision-makers.

Another request, and yet an igniting factor, is how to build up peaceful relationships with countries of the region in order to be a full member of the international community and, thus, contribute to peace and stability in the international system.

Indeed, shaping the foreign policy of Azerbaijan requires a dynamic diplomacy based both on regional balance of power and openness to the world affairs, while improving national assets. So far, this approach has proved to be fruitful and a step forward to building a regional complex of mutual interdependence, where all actors involved have their say –which make the asymmetrical dependence void and null. Obviously, despite controversial perceptions of power and dependence, the regional actors have showed the same dedication that has made it possible for the region to avoid calls for unprecedented military escalation or uncontrollable threats. It is commonly accepted among experts and observers of the regional geopolitics that zero sum game is difficult to apply in this part of the planet.

First, because the collapse of the Soviet Union has not solved all pending issues pertaining to borders disputes and lack of trust between the decision-makers in the region. Second, because the economical choices have to be rethought. Third, the peoples’ high expectations have to be framed. Being a dynamic actor in the international system is a claim that cannot work unless it is associated with a steady commitment to principles of peace, stability and good neighborhood. No matter how issues seem hard to sort out, only can a fair dedication to tackle them participate in creating a regional and international climate for a healthy cooperation, a balanced interdependence and a shared prosperity.

Azerbaijan is an important player in the South Caucasus and Central Asia. From the very beginning, Baku has made a choice to capitalize on its triple historical, cultural and geographic assets. The choice has been made to be part of the Great and Near Middle East, Europe and Asia. A risky choice, some would have thought? Not at all! Azerbaijan enjoys a good relationship with Islamic and Arab countries, and is a part of different formats of dialogue within the OIC and Arab league of States. Azerbaijan is a European country, and is working with the European Union to be part of all processes of association and integration initiated by Brussels and all member States. Azerbaijan is strengthening its relations with regional organizations including the CIS. Azerbaijan is also an active player in the international organizations, mainly the United Nations. Azerbaijan was elected member non permanent in 2012, and its contribution to international peace is still being highly appreciated.

Furthermore, Azerbaijan plays an important role in energy security not only with respect to Europe, but also vis-à-vis the neighboring regions. This role is balanced and takes into account the other producers’ interests. It goes without saying that energy is a matter of national security for all actors involved. Therefore, the interaction between these actors is very sensitive, because working to safeguard states national security is a step forward to enhance stability, order and positive interdependence for all actors involved. 

In this respect, Azerbaijan is expecting the international community to help out resolving Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Baku urges the main players, mainly the permanent members within the United Nations Security Council to implement the resolutions adopted, which will participate in restoring the sovereignty of Azerbaijan over the whole territory. Azerbaijan always reiterates that the status quo is unacceptable and its territorial integrity has to be fully respected. This view is shared by the international community, and only by negotiation can this dispute be solved. The role of Minsk Group is pivotal in this respect, and some sort of chemistry should work between this Group (whose members are permanent members of Security Council) and United Nations.

Over the last twenty five years Azerbaijan managed, to some extent, to upgrade its economy and resolve pending issues pertaining to education, health, information technology, agriculture, bearing in mind that the country should not rely only on energy resources to evolve. Yet thanks to oil and gas Azerbaijan managed to improve the infrastructures necessary to engage in promising projects, build schools and hospitals and spare no means to improve social indicators. These efforts and achievements are praised by partners and by the specialized international and regional organizations. These organizations are advising the government to keep on doing its good job.

Twenty five years of independence is a short period in the modern History of Azerbaijan. The decision-makers have not had enough time to implement political, economic and social reforms on a large scale and on time. Yet, it is worth it to speed up the process. The country enjoys strong and viable institutions. The commitment to reforms is genuine and will surely continue. The Azerbaijani people, despite a variety of perceptions about the way to get the process of reforms go faster, share the view that their country is an important regional and international player and, therefore, they are requested to take part in the all processes of reforms implemented so far with good faith and steady commitment.

Bearing in mind the abovementioned evidences, I am glad to emphasize that the relationships between the Kingdom of Morocco and the Republic of Azerbaijan are excellent. Since the establishment of the diplomatic relations on August 18th, 1992, these relations are evolving and getting stronger. The participation of the late National Leader Heydar Aliev in the 1994 OIC Summit in Casablanca paved the way for better understanding between the two countries. This visit was an opportunity for both countries to reiterate their mutual support to their territorial integrity. This support has always been steady, unequivocal and strong. The relationship between His Majesty King Mohammed VI and His Excellency President Ilham Aliyev are excellent. This is a good sign for other decisions-makers in both countries to envision the future with optimism. Cooperation in the fields of culture, tourism, justice, youth and sports, emergency situations, to name but a few is promising.

In this respect suffice it to say that several agreements have been signed, and are being implemented. Other drafts agreements are finalized and will be signed in the foreseeable future. The diplomatic coordination is highly appreciated, and has proven to be fruitful, sincere and efficient, mainly when both countries were elected as non permanent member of the United Security Council. The political regular consultation is a good sign of mutual respect and sound commitment to go ahead and make the friendship between the two countries stronger and lasting forever.

One among good examples of this friendship is that since 2015, the Azeri language and literature is taught at Mohammed V University, Faculty of Literature and Human Sciences. The course is compulsory. If there is no big rush so far, students and scholars start to get acquainted with Azerbaijani phonetic and sounds. Furthermore, projects of translating Moroccan literature into Azerbaijani language and Azerbaijani literature into Arabic language are being considered.

Both countries are looking forward to strengthening the bond of friendship and keeping on supporting each others on vital matters pertaining to their sovereignty and territorial integrity. Both are working hard to contribute to security, stability and order in their respective regions. Both are convinced that only by negotiation, good-will, dedication, wisdom and good governance can the international community build a world where peace will prevail and give hope to people regardless of their culture, race, religion, gender and political or ideological preferences.

Best wishes to the Government and People of Azerbaijan!

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