BLOG – Turning the page

A National Day message from Tahir Taghizade, the Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the UK

On 28 May 2021, the Republic of Azerbaijan celebrates its National day.

Establishment of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR) on 28 May 1918 was a historic event and a glorious page in Azerbaijan’s history. Being a parliamentary republic that was built based on political pluralism and a multi-party system, granting women the right to vote before most western democracies, ADR was first of its kind in the entire Muslim East.

Although ADR fell in April 1920, its legacy laid the foundations of Azerbaijani statehood. On October 18, 1991, the restored independent Azerbaijani state declared its loyalty to the traditions of the First Republic.

Today Azerbaijan emerges on the world stage as a fully-fledged and responsible member of international community, one of the fastest-growing economies, a strong supporter of multilateralism and international cooperation, a champion of norms and principles of international law, a reliable partner, a bridge between East and West as well as a multicultural nation with multi-ethnic and multi-faith society.

Being elected to the membership of UN Security Council between 2012-2013 with the support of as many as 155 countries as well as chairing the Non-Alignment Movement for the years of 2019-2022 reflects the country’s international prestige as well as its commitment to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security.

Occupation and liberation
Regretfully, for the last three decades our independence had been seriously undermined due to the occupation of Azerbaijan’s Nagorno Karabakh and seven adjacent regions by neighbouring Armenia. As a result of a 44-day war fought with Armenia last year between 27 September and 9 November and a Trilateral Agreement signed by Presidents of Azerbaijan and Russia as well as Prime Minister of Armenia, Azerbaijan liberated its territories and restored its territorial integrity and sovereignty within its internationally recognised borders.

Since then, Azerbaijan has been repeatedly showing its readiness to move on to a new phase of inter-state relations with Armenia and to work on a peace treaty to achieve a lasting peace for the well-being of both nations as well as future prosperity of the entire region. The agreements reached within the framework of the trilateral statements, dated 10 November 2020 and 11 January 2021, also envisage the opening of communications and transportation links which would open new prospects for regional cooperation.

The bright lights of Baku with the iconic Flame Towers

Reconstruction and peace-building
Even though the liberated territories have been heavily mined and cultural and religious heritage has been destroyed by Armenia during the decades-long occupation, Azerbaijan has already started active reconstruction works in these territories which are to be transformed into the zones of “smart city” and “green energy”.

Azerbaijan will work with friendly and partner countries in the reconstruction of Karabakh and as a strategic partner of Azerbaijan, the UK will be one of them. The relations between Azerbaijan and the UK have always been exemplary and despite pandemic Azerbaijan hosted two ministers, Minister Morton and Minister Stuart from the UK during the first half of 2021. Most recently President Ilham Aliyev reconfirmed the strong bilateral relations between the two countries as well as Azerbaijan’s commitment to expand cooperation with British companies in his meeting with UK Minister for Exports, Mr. Graham Stuart MP who visited Azerbaijan on May 20-23, 2021 to participate in the fourth session of Joint intergovernmental commission between Azerbaijan and the UK.

I take this opportunity to congratulate all my compatriots with Republic Day and closing a sad chapter in our recent history, we look forward to seeing a significantly transformed new chapter which may bring together all regional players under one umbrella to secure a peaceful and prosperous South Caucasus.

Tahir Taghizadeh is the Ambassador of Azerbaijan to the UK
This article was published on 28 May 2021