Athens hosts international conference on humanitarian challenge of European Mediterranean partnership

Athens, November 22, AZERTAC

Co-organized by the Nizami Ganjavi International Center and the Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Foundation, an international conference under the motto “The Humanitarian Challenge of European Mediterranean partnership: A wake up call” has got underway in Athens, Greece.

The participants in the event included the Azerbaijani President’s Assistant for Public and Political Affairs Ali Hasanov, Chairman of Azerbaijan`s State Committee on Work with Diaspora Nazim Ibrahimov, as well as influential statesmen and political figures of the EU and Mediterranean basin countries, including members of Board of Trustees of Nizami Ganjavi International Center, former Presidents of Latvia Vaira Vike-Freiberga and Valdis Zatlers, former President of Serbia Boris Tadic, former President of Croatia Ivo Josipovic, former President of Bulgaria Petar Stoyanov, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Marianna V. Vardinoyannis, public and political figures, heads of the Azerbaijani diaspora organizations in Europe, scientists and media representatives.

The international conference aims to share ideas and initiatives for the prevention of humanitarian crises in the Mediterranean basin, and focus on the issues as migration, integration, national identity and multiculturalism, particularly separatism and self-determination.

Azerbaijani President’s Assistant for Public and Political Affairs Ali Hasanov addressed the meeting:

“Today`s Forum addresses a very pressing issue that concerns the modern world, and I would like to express my views on behalf of the government of Azerbaijan. It is crucially important to hold discussions on the ways of finding a solution to the crisis caused by dangerous tendencies such as international terrorism and ethnic separatism in the Mediterranean basin that links the European Union, North African, Middle East, and Southeast European countries. We are all concerned about the difficulties in tackling the refugee and migrant problems, human trafficking and smuggling, as well as in addressing threats to political and economic stability, and transport and energy security. Observations show that ethnic separatism and its negative manifestations occupy a special place among these threats.”

The President’s Assistant stressed that the strengthening of ethnic separatism tendencies in the modern world is one of the key factors adversely affecting the regional and international security and humanity`s existence in peace and tranquility. “There are currently over 50 main hotbeds of ethnic separatism in the world stretching 12.7 million square kilometers and affecting more than 220 million people. More than twenty of the conflicts caused by ethnic separatism have resulted in military clashes.”

“The geography of the spread of ethnic conflicts covers almost all parts of the world. Ethnic conflicts between a number of countries, including Great Britain with Northern Ireland and Scotland, Belgium with Flanders and Wallonia, France with Paris Agglomeration and Corsica, Spain with Basques and Catalonia, and Serbia with Kosovo in Europe, Israel with Palestine, India with Kashmir and Punjab, and China with Tibet in Asia, Nigeria with North Nigeria, Sudan with South Sudan in Africa, Canada with Quebec, and Mexico with Chiapas in America have been ongoing for many years.”

“The end of the Cold War saw the emergence of a new wave of ethnic separatism tendencies in the former Soviet Union. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in Azerbaijan, Abkhazia and Ossetia conflicts in Georgia, and Transnistrian conflict in Moldova deteriorated into potential sources of danger that could undermine stability in the region at any time. These conflicts lead to gross violations of international legal principles and serious threats to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of states.”

Ali Hasanov said that it is crucial that influential international organizations such as the UN, OSCE and the Council of Europe resolutely fight against ethnic separatism: “Otherwise, as a negative tendency, ethnic separatism can turn a vast part of the world into an area of inter-ethnic conflicts.”

“Unfortunately, the double standards policy, which nowadays dominates the system of international relations, hinders a resolute and principled fight against ethnic separatism. In some cases, the leading international organizations turn a blind eye to the fact that some states do not obey legal norms, which envisage the elimination of ethnic separatism, the employment of effective fight methods and mechanisms of punishing criminals. And this casts a shadow on the objectivity and principled stand of international organizations as the UN, OSCE and the Council of Europe.”

The Azerbaijani President’s Assistant said: “Having declared its keenness to establish relations with the European Union back in 1993, my country embarked on collaboration with this organization in a variety of fields. The European Union highly appreciates what Azerbaijan has done under the Neighborhood Policy and Eastern Partnership initiatives as well as in the field of civil society building. Azerbaijan and the EU share common geopolitical interests with regard to the regional security of the South Caucasus and the Caspian-Black Sea basin, with large transnational corporations representing the EU being closely involved in transnational projects in the region.”

“The implementation of transnational energy and transport projects such as Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum oil and gas pipelines as well as Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway has been possible due to the strategic partnership between Azerbaijan and the EU. The EU supports Azerbaijan’s policy of joint exploitation of the Caspian Sea’s energy resources and their export to the European markets through alternative transnational projects, and reconstruction of multiple transit systems within the East-West and North-South transport corridors to modern standards,” Ali Hasanov said.

“The partnership agreement signed between the EU and Azerbaijan in 2007 was one of the important steps towards the implementation of the Southern Gas Corridor. Initiated by Azerbaijan, projects such as the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) and Trans-Adriatic Gas Pipeline (TAP) have won necessary support from the EU and have been included in the list of the European Commission`s priority energy security projects that serve common interests. The EU also highly appreciates what Azerbaijan has done on the Southern Gas Corridor project, which envisages delivery of vast energy resources of the Caspian basin and the Middle East to the European markets.”

“But it is not only thanks to its role in ensuring energy supply and security of Europe and partnership within Neighborhood Policy that Azerbaijan is considered one of the EU`s reliable partners since the country is directly involved in peacebuilding processes in different parts of the world, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Balkans, etc., and provides NATO with non-military resources and a safe air corridor.”

“Negotiations on a new agreement between the EU and Azerbaijan are now ongoing. I believe that the signing of this document will open plenty of opportunity for reinforcing wide-ranging cooperation in the fields of political dialogue, human rights, trade, investment, economy, legislation, culture, etc,” the Azerbaijani President’s Assistant noted.

Ali Hasanov also touched upon Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict: “Unfortunately, the unsettled problems such as the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict impede prospective development of Azerbaijan’s high-level partnership with the EU. Armenia continues its policy of occupation towards Azerbaijan in defiance of the relevant resolutions of the United Nations and the European Union. I believe that the EU’s taking a tough line on the aggressor could be another key factor in strengthening the strategic partnership between Azerbaijan and the organization in the future.”

Elgun Niftali

Special Correspondent

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