George Kent: US continues to encourage all steps towards systemic reforms in Azerbaijan

The issues of democratic governance and civic engagement, along with Nagorno Karabakh peace settlement, security and energy cooperation, were among the key topics discussed with an Azeri government delegation in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, June 11, TURAN’s US correspondent reports.

Hikmet Hajiyev, foreign policy adviser to the President of Azerbaijan, traveled to the U.S. capital early this week to talk about his country’s current foreign policy initiatives and “its plans for engagement with its neighbors in the Caucasus region and its Western strategic partners,” according to the officials.

Washington’s interested in the region have been clear. “We have actively worked with Azerbaijan and other South Caucasus partners towards a secure, democratic, peaceful, and prosperous Caucasus region free from malign foreign influence,” according to State Department officials.

On democratic governance, the U.S. “continues to encourage all steps towards systemic reforms in Azerbaijan, especially in the rule of law, and on the protection on human rights and fundamental freedoms,” George Kent, deputy assistant secretary of State on European and Eurasian Affairs, said on Tuesday at an event organized by the Atlantic Council think tank.

“Both areas, in our view, will benefit the Azerbaijani people and create opportunities to deepen our cooperation.”

Washington, he added, considers the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh to be a high priority.

“We remain fully committed to the Minsk Group process. We believe the resolution of this conflict is essential for achieving a secure and prosperous future for both Azerbaijan and Armenia.”

The US’ work to resolve this conflict will continue to be based on the principles of the none-use of force or threat of force, territorial integrity and equal rights and self-determination of peoples,” he added.

In his speech, Hajiyev painted Baku’s foreign policy as “Independent, predictable, logical,” claiming that his country has managed to establish good relations with China, U.S. and EU.

As for on Nagrono-Karabakh peace process, he highlighted a need for “bigger dialogue between Armenia and Azerbaijan” adding that his country is ready to share its prosperity with Armenia “just like to does with Georgia” once the conflict is resolved.

Speaking about domestic developments in Azerbaijan, Hajiyev said, currently his president “has a strategic vision of transformation in the country.”

“Azerbaijan”s public service system is one of the best in the world,” he claimed.

A.Raufoglu

Washington D.C.