Hikmat Hajiyev is Assistant to the President of Azerbaijan on Foreign Policy issues and Head of foreign policy affairs department at the administration of the President. We called on him when we were visiting Baku the capital city of Azerbaijan for the coverage of Parliamentary Elections held on 09 Feb 2020. He shared his views on a number of issues and matters including why snap elections were necessary and relations with Pakistan. Our meeting held at his office on 08 Feb 2020 only one day before the elections.
He said that we appreciate Pakistan’s support on Nagorno Karabakh. Pakistan does not recognize Armenia for aggression against Azerbaijan and occupation on the territories. Pakistan and Azerbaijan enjoy close cordial relations that have deep roots in history.We are clear on Jammu Kashmir issue. This dispute should be resolved according to the resolutions of UNO.
Azerbaijan observes independent foreign policy. Islamic solidarity and brotherly ties with OIC countries is the corner stone of our policy. We are working on the issues of Islamic countries. Azerbaijan hosted Islamic Solidarity Games to bring Muslim countries closer to one another and to enhance solidarity among them.
Azerbaijan is member of Council of Europe and many other European institutions. We hosted Baku Conference to bridge gaps among European and Muslim countries. This conference sensitized the participants about Islam Phobia and helped them to correct their perspective. We apprised the European participants that Islam is the religion of peace,patience and respect for others. There are worship places of many religions in Baku. They coexist with each other peacefully.
Regarding snap parliamentary elections, Mr Hikmat said that the nations need reforms and the leaders envision them. Azerbaijan also reached to that stage and we decided to do it as early as possible. Azerbaijan brought structural,governmental and judicial reforms in 2018. After that the nation was looking forward to the parliament for early implementation of the reforms. Snap elections are meant to fulfill that requirement for the better future of the nation.
Mr Hikmat said that social political and economic reforms are necessary for the republic. Reforms is a continuous process like transformation. We are carrying a strategic vision for sustainable development so that our people can get security, prosperity and better standard of life. We are observing changes on international level. We need more diversity in economy.
We asked him this is an age of connectivity. What is Azerbaijan’s vision for connectivity? Mr Hikmat replied that we intend to make Azerbaijan from a Land Locked country into a Land Linked country. Historically Azerbaijan had silk route. Development of this concept is our dream. East West Corridor is our priority in which all possible means can be utilized including road transport, railway, air. Caspian Connection is also in our thoughts.
He said Azerbaijan supports One Belt One Road Initiative. We are working on North South Corridor. We have a better railway system and it can be connected with Iran. This connection will help build trade corridor from Bender Abbas to North European markets. Iran, Azerbaijan, Russia railway link can be established with construction of only 150 KM link between Azerbaijan and Iran. Pakistan friends also have this understanding. In case of CPEC , Azerbaijan can get connection from Bender Abbas and reach to China.Azerbaijan is laying optical fiber to Kazakhstan that will be completed in 2024.
Mr Hikmat was also questioned about necessity of direct flights between Pakistan and Azerbaijan. He said that we are in consultations with Turkish Air for that purpose. Islamabad, Baku, Istanbul route is under discussion but certainly the company will decide with a commercial approach.
Sharing the latest position on dialogue with Armenia , Mr Hikmat said that Last Year was Lost Year. No positive response was received from Armenia. Now the dispute needs serious dialogue. Armenia is changing the demography in occupied territories of Azerbaijan. They are settling the Armenians here bringing them from their native areas. They are demolishing the Masjids. We expect from the world community that the aggressor will be pressurized politically and diplomatically to refrain from doing this. Armenian Impunity should come to end. We can liberate our territories from Armenian occupation with force but we are looking towards UNO. Azerbaijan can take any step with our right of self defense if no solution is found .