By Peter Tase
Sabahudin Hadžialić, Assoc. Prof. Dr. on Strategic Communication in European Universities, wrote once that Azerbaijan and Colombia “have a great potential to exchange experiences in the fields of university education, promotion of literature, bilateral economic cooperation and trade partnership.”
In 1991, as the dissolution of Soviet Union was taking place, the Republic of Azerbaijan declared its Independence on October 18th (1991). After intermittent periods of political turmoil, in 1993, the Government of the Republic of Azerbaijan under the leadership of President Heydar Aliyev, swiftly initiated a series of legislative reforms that generated a robust economic growth, promoted national values, multiculturalism, alleviated poverty and unemployment throughout the territory of Azerbaijan. In 2003, the impressive technological developments in the oil and natural gas sector, dynamic financial policies, admirable improvements of health care policy and a renewed public education system marked the beginning of the presidency of H. E. Mr. Ilham Aliyev, whose government has transformed Azerbaijan into a developed nation located in the cross roads of South East Europe and Western Asia. Baku has emerged as a hub of logistics and a regional competitive market. In this context, global alliances and bilateral agreements with the Republic of Colombia have acquired a special attention in the implementation of Azerbaijan’s Foreign Policy. In the same vein, in a recent meeting with the President of Azerbaijan, Dr. Ana BIRCHALL, Romanian Deputy Prime Minister of Strategic Partnerships’ Implementation stated: Azerbaijan is a country that contributes to stability and security in the region.”
Over twenty years after the Declaration of Independence, in 2012 – 2017, the Republic of Azerbaijan, under the unwavering guidance and vision of President Ilham Aliyev, opened a brand new chapter on its foreign policy and economic diplomacy. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, for the first time established close cooperation ties with Colombia. This article will address the bilateral partnership, implementation of Azerbaijan’s Foreign Policy and its diplomatic dialogue that has currently taken place between the Republic of Azerbaijan and Colombia.
On July 25th, 2012 an official meeting was held between the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Elmar Mammadyarov and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Colombia, Maria Angela Holguin Cuellar.
At this meeting both sides held consultations between business representatives; they discussed ways on how to develop bilateral cooperation. Subsequently Foreign Affairs Ministers Elmar Mammadyarov and Maria Cuellar held a press conference for media representatives.
On July 25th, 2012, the Azerbaijan State News Agency reported that the Minister of Foreign Affairs Elmar Mammadyarov met with a group of Senators led by Deputy Chairman of Colombian Senate, Edgar Espindola Niño. Mr. Edgar Niño recalled with great satisfaction his visit to Azerbaijan and the meetings held with Azerbaijani officials. He expressed his confidence that Minister Elmar Mammadyarov’s official visit to Colombia would contribute to the dynamic development of relations between Bogota and Baku. The Deputy Chairman noted that the Colombian Senate understands the grief and sorrow of the Khojaly Genocide and in this regard, the Colombian Senate adopted a relevant decision. The Colombian Senator also stressed the importance of opening diplomatic and trade representations on both countries and stated that these measures would stimulate the cooperation in economic growth, trade, energy, education, culture and other fields between the two countries.
In addition to Senator Edgar Espíndola Niño’s statement, the chairperson of the second constitutional committee of the Colombian Senate, Senator Alexandra Moreno Piraquive expressed confidence that the Colombian Senate will remain faithful to the friendship and cooperation with Azerbaijani Parliament.
After their mutual statements, Minister Elmar Mammadyarov and Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan to Colombia, Ilgar Muxtarov were awarded with the Order of Merit for Democracy Building Efforts in the rank of Grand Commander by the Colombian Senate National Defense and Security Committee for their contributions to the development and strengthening of cooperation between Colombia and Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan’s Foreign Affairs Minister expressed his gratitude for this high Award presented by the Senate and noted that there is an existing political will to boost the strategic relations between Azerbaijan and Colombia. The Minister also mentioned that the parliamentary diplomacy plays an important role to bilateral relations and Azerbaijan is satisfied with such a high level inter-parliamentary relations between the two countries.
On February 18th, 2013, a Member of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate of Colombia, Senator Alexandra Moreno Piraquive, who is a co-founder of the Independent Movement of Absolute Renovation sent letters to the President and the Chairman of Milli Mejlis of Azerbaijan to express solidarity of the people and Senate of Colombia with the people of Azerbaijan on the eve of the 21st anniversary of the Khojaly Genocide.
Referring to the decision of the Colombian Senate on the Khojaly Genocide adopted in 2012, Senator Alexandra Piraquive stressed that the decision was adopted to show her nation’s support to the civilian people of Azerbaijan and to condemn the brutalities committed against Azerbaijani civilians. Senator Piraquive also underlined that joint efforts should be made to keep the memory of victims alive and to prevent the recurrence of such kind of crimes in the future. To attract local media’s attention to Khojaly genocide, on February 15th, 2013, the press office of Senator Alexandra Piraquive also issued a statement for the media.
On July 8th, 2013, Minister Elmar Mammadyarov and Foreign Affairs Minister of Colombia Maria Angela Holguin held political consultations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan. Minister Mammadyarov welcomed his Colombian counterpart to Azerbaijan and noted with satisfaction the current state of bilateral relations. Minister Mammadyarov stated that the two countries enjoy a high level of political dialogue and there are opportunities to enhance cooperation in areas such as commerce, trade, investments in real estate and banking. He also underlined the importance of high profile visits in strengthening bilateral ties and noted the need to bolster the legal framework between the two countries.
The Colombian Foreign Affairs Minister Maria Angela Holguin expressed her appreciation for the warm welcome and shared her positive impressions from her first visit to Azerbaijan. Mrs. Holguin noted that Colombia is keen to broaden cooperation with Azerbaijan across various fields. Minister Maria Angela Holguin also emphasized that her team will explore ways on how to expand cooperation, particularly economic cooperation and added that business circles of the two countries would get together to explore opportunities for joint projects and investments. During this meeting the two Ministers also exchanged views about regional issues and other matters of mutual concern.
On June 1st, 2017, the Azerbaijan State News Agency (AZERTAC) informed that the Foreign Affairs Minister Elmar Mammadyarov met with the first vice-president of the National Congress of Colombia and with other members of the Senate within the framework of his official visit to the Republic of Colombia. In his meeting with the first vice-president of the National Congress of Colombia Mrs. Daira de Jesús Gálvis Méndez and the Chairman of the Azerbaijan-Colombia Parliamentary Friendship Group Senator Teresita García Romero and other members, Mr. Elmar Mammadyarov mentioned the importance of parliamentary diplomacy in the development of Azerbaijan-Colombia relations. The Minister thanked the National Congress of Colombia for the consistent support, which is based on the principles of international law, namely sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of Independent States’ borders, mentioning the fair posture of Azerbaijan in the settlement of the Nagorno – Karabakh conflict. The Colombian Senators recalled with great pleasure their visit to Azerbaijan, meetings with the First Vice-President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva, Foreign Affairs Minister and the members of Parliament on the sidelines of the V International Humanitarian Forum held in Baku during September 29 – 30, 2016. The Colombian legislators added that they will always stand behind the friendly Azerbaijani people and will do their best to advance the friendship between the two countries.
The Azerbaijani Minister expressed his appreciation for the documents adopted by the Senate of Colombia, namely resolution on “Illegal occupation of the territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan” and the document on the 25th anniversary of Khojaly Genocide. Minister Mammadyarov briefed the Members of Colombian Senate about his official visit to Bogota and the fruitful meetings he had with the Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón, Foreign Affairs Minister Maria Angela Holguin, and the business community. He added that there are favorable opportunities for the development of economic-trade relations between the two countries.
The close strategic partnership of the Republic of Azerbaijan with the Republic of Colombia is a testimony to Baku’s dynamic foreign policy implemented under the vision of National Leader Heydar Aliyev and the leadership of H. E. President Ilham Aliyev. In continuation to this fruitful partnership, Bogota is expected to strengthen the bilateral cooperation in the following fields: cultural projects, economic, bilateral trade and logistical sector. Moreover, the Republic of Azerbaijan is highly motivated to strengthen the bilateral cooperation with Bogotá and further intensify the partnership on the fields of economic cooperation and political dialogue.