(By Dr Shahid Qureshi – Chief Editor in Baku): –
Honorable Sajjad Kraim British Member of European Parliament addressed the Azerbaijan 100 years anniversary celebrations held at the Mili Majlis (Parliament). He specially mentioned Parliamentary Co-chair Javanshir Feyezev of Azerbaijan Parliament. Below is the transcript of his brief speech.
My dear fellow Parliamentarians
It is an honour and privilege to be here in the Mili Majlis today, a place to which I am no stranger, to celebrate 100 years of the Azerbaijan Parliament and to address such an esteemed gathering.
One hundred years ago, with the proclamation of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan, it’s people made a choice. They chose to reject inequality, imperial domination, tyranny and subjugation. Democracy, tolerance, suffrage and equality became part of the very fabric of what Azerbaijanis sought from their homeland. A proud people in a secular country with firm roots and a strong individual identity encapsulating religion, culture, history – all in equal measure and with natural ease and finesse masking the tremendous sacrifice they made along the way to their modern day Azerbaijan.
Once progressive ideals become part of a society, they become impossible to remove or permanently suppress. Less than thirty years after reaffirming its choices, Azerbaijan’s place is assured, due to the tremendous challenges it has faced and its leadership, under President Aliyev, continues to navigate. It’s people can stand tall and rightly proud of their homeland.
Today colleagues as Parliamentarians we too face tremendous challenges. Many are natural, others not. Some the consequences of policy decisions made in the past. Others created by more immediate and sudden executive decisions. The culmination of which leaves our people uncertain as to how they will cope with the scope and pace of change inflicted upon them, whilst they appreciate change as a constant in history.
Today they see the least visible part of their world rules based order being dismantled whilst simultaneously they witness infrastructure projects erecting and transforming the globe. Indeed Azerbaijan’s infrastructural development has formed a great crossroads at the centre of the world.
But just as Azerbaijan constitutes a crossroads, so to does it find itself at a crossroads like many other of our nation’s and unions.
Some nations today are adopting a policy of “wait and see” with a view to adapting according to where things ultimately land with the attempted deconstruction of the rules based world order, whilst simultaneously seeking to continue to enjoy the benefits of a rules based system. Colleagues we must all recognise the ultimate price will be paid by the people we represent. Now is not a time to be timid in reaffirming our values.
And our negotiations of the new EU-AZ Agreement require just that. The conclusion of the new EU-Azerbaijan agreement would represent an important upgrade in our relations. The negotiations
offer an opportunity to broaden our areas of cooperation at a moment when AZ is seeking to diversify its economy. We welcome your interest in cooperation in sectors other than energy, such as transportation, tourism and digital economy.
We need to seize the momentum and intensify our work on the negotiations with the objective to reach a final deal in the coming months. Our ambition should be to sign the new EU-Azerbaijan Agreement under the mandate of the current EU Commission.
We should strive for an ambitious agreement from which both sides gain. But for that, there must be flexibility and political will on both sides, particularly on sensitive regional issues. AZ should not ask the EU to commit beyond its competences.
On the trade part, the agreement is to provide for a more solid basis to facilitate Azerbaijan´s convergence with the EU and international standards and for its future membership of the World Trade Organisation. The agreement should result in a reduction of barriers
to trade, improve the business environment and encourage sustainable development for the benefit of our citizens.
AZ could and should commit (possibly with some transition periods) to a set of minimum WTO rules so that we can demonstrate value added by the agreement in the absence of immediately upcoming WTO membership.
And while our cooperation intensifies, thanks to negotiations on the Agreement or finalisation of the Partnership Priorities, the human rights situation remains a challenge. We welcome the release Ilgar Mammedov, but we would like to call on the AZ side to align the conditions of his release with the requirements of the European Court of Human Rights ruling.
In my capacity as Chairman of Delegation for relations here, I have seen innumerable changes and leaps forward by Azerbaijan, and in every step forwards I see the ideals of the 1917 republic. In every step forwards I see the ideals of tolerance and openness that unite
Azerbaijani citizens most notably displayed by the tremendous welcome I was given upon my arrival by the religious communities of Azerbaijan – Christian, Muslim, Jew, Zoroastrian alike – all coexisting in harmony and as equal citizens. From this as Europeans I see we have much to learn with the growing scourge of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia throughout Europe.
Our dialogue on a Parliament to Parliament basis will continue for without it our executives cannot function. We have much to deliver on a joint basis for our people, for our regions and ultimately we hope our EU AZ relations are strengthened and deepened based upon shared values and a commitment to world order and peace.
From the people of Europe I bring my good wishes for Azerbaijan’s future – congratulations on this momentous occasion.