* Embassy issues statement on the occasion of the National Day of Azerbaijan

A number of important steps have been taken by Azerbaijan and Qatar to develop bilateral relations in different fields over the years, the embassy of Azerbaijan has stressed.

Issuing a statement on the occasion of the National Day of Azerbaijan, the embassy said official reciprocal visits by the leaders of the two countries opened broad prospects to enhance co-operation.

The people of Azerbaijan celebrate their country's National Day on May 28.

"On May 28, 1918, the first parliamentary democracy in the Muslim world - Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR) - was founded with the adoption of the Declaration on Independence," the statement said.

It continued, "Despite facing grave internal and external challenges arising from the collapse of an empire, Azerbaijan Democratic Republic succeeded in setting effective state institutions, upholding the rights of its citizens and gaining the trust of the international community. Universal suffrage, as well as the right of voting for women, was guaranteed. The newly formed republic made education a primary concern and on its end the Baku State University was founded.

"As stated in the Declaration of Independence, establishment of friendly relations with all nations, especially neighbouring nations and states, was determined as one of the foreign policy priorities of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. The first major breakthrough in diplomatic relations came when the parliamentary delegation of Azerbaijan went to Paris with the main goal to gain international recognition for Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. Unanimous de-facto recognition of the independence of Azerbaijan was attained and the Azerbaijani mission received an invitation to the Supreme Council of the Paris Peace Conference.

"The Bolsheviks invasion of April 1920 put an end to the independence of ADR. As the successor of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, the Republic of Azerbaijan restored its independence in 1991. The difficulties faced by the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, including Armenia’s territorial claims and war against Azerbaijan, geopolitical intrigues and socio-economic problems engulfed the Republic of Azerbaijan as well since regaining its independence in 1991."

The statement stressed that the policies pursued later by the national leader of the Azerbaijani people, Heydar Aliyev, helped develop a sense of national identity by reviving deep historical and cultural memory, as well as by instilling a firm conviction for preserving and strengthening independence and statehood.

"Today, the Republic of Azerbaijan - as an independent, sovereign and democratic country - brings to reality the aspirations and ideals of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic with its good and effective management, socio-economic and human capital development as well as its growing role and prestige in international relations," it noted.

"Based on the reality of being part of the Islamic world, the Republic of Azerbaijan, from the first days, sought to consolidate fraternal relations with brotherly Muslim countries and thus, the relations between Azerbaijan and member countries of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference began expanding," the statement pointed out.

In this context, diplomatic relations between Azerbaijan and Qatar were established on September 14, 1994.

The statement said, "During this period of more than 25 years of diplomatic relations, both States have taken many important steps to develop bilateral relations approximately in all fields. Official reciprocal visits by the leaders of the two countries opened broad prospects to enhance co-operation. The agreements signed during these visits have created a favourable legal framework for the deepening of relations.

"Today, there are political and economic dialogue mechanisms between Azerbaijan and Qatar, and they successfully co-operate within international and regional organisations. Azerbaijan highly appreciates the position of Qatar in connection with the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan. In the light of existing high-level political relations between the countries, both sides are interested in the development of economic partnership, including investment, trade and tourism co-operation."

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