Morningstar: Civil society activists and NGOs are not destructive forces

The U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan, Richard Morningstar, who is leaving the country due to the completion of his mission, made a farewell speech in the National Museum of Art to the graduates of educational exchange programs.

Ambassador said that when he first visited Azerbaijan 20 years ago, the country had just signed a ceasefire agreement in Karabakh, the economy experienced a deep crisis. Since then, the country has achieved greater economic development.

Despite external pressure, Azerbaijan demonstrated its commitment to the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. “The United States supported the pipeline, because it helped to protect and strengthen the independence of Azerbaijan and Georgia,” said Morningstar.

Brave step was Azerbaijan’s commitment to the Southern Gas Corridor to transport gas from Azerbaijan to Europe through Georgia and Turkey. Azerbaijan has demonstrated courage and determination, sending troops to Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. Along with this, Azerbaijan became a transportation hub in transshipment cargo to Afghanistan.

We continue our cooperation with the State Border Service on preventing the proliferation of chemical weapons and the fight against trafficking.

The U.S. is also making efforts to resolve the Karabakh conflict. An important element of bilateral relations is energy and security. But bilateral relations are not limited thereto.

“We have constant negotiations with officials on the themes of democracy and human rights. These questions are important for the United States. They define our foreign policy. As President Barack Obama stated last month in Brussels before the European youth “we believe in democracy … an independent court and the opposition parties, civil society and freedom of information, so that people can make a choice. We believe in it. And it makes us strong. ”

“But apparently we and Azerbaijan treat these issues differently. However, a consequent dialogue is important with each partner. We may have differences in opinion, but we must continue the dialogue. We must try to understand the positions and interests of each other, ” said Morningstar.

“Since Azerbaijan is trying to protect and preserve its sovereignty and independence, we must support it. We understand that the most urgent task of the government is maintaining stability.

We have seen what happened in countries where there was no stability. However, we strongly believe that if people are given more freedom, there will more stability in Azerbaijan. We believe that it is in the interests of Azerbaijan, in the interest of both citizens and government of the country,” said Morningstar.

Open, active civil society can become a very powerful and positive force in many ways.

“The hard work of activists and NGOs in Azerbaijan, their dedication impressed me strongly. Me and Faith (Ambassador’s wife) are proud of the work done by many women. Activists and leaders love their country. They are in demand, and want to improve the situation. We do not believe these people and organizations are destructive forces.

I want to make it clear: the USA does not want to create in Azerbaijan any form of instability and unrest, ” said the Ambassador.

He expressed confidence that the Government will reconsider its attitude to these issues, and in particular, the issue of Hasan Huseynli (Ganja activist was sentenced to six years imprisonment), and understand that all this does not increase stability, but on the contrary, creates unnecessary problems.

“We support the NGOs and civil society, because we firmly believe them ,and call for closer dialogue with the government,” continued the ambassador.

“We understand that Azerbaijan has chosen its way, we strongly support the independence of Azerbaijan and will seek to deepen our relationship. But for that we need to solve some unpleasant questions that impede the achievement of objectives that meet our common interests,” said Morningstar.

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