As part of the official visit of Polish President Bronisław Komorowski to Baku, MFA Under-Secretary of State Krzysztof Stanowski met, July 25th, with NGO representatives and holders of the L. Kirkland Scholarship from Azerbaijan.
During his visit, Minister Stanowski underscored the significance of the Polish Presidency of the EU Council and Warsaw's interest in developing cooperation, in particular in the framework of the Eastern Partnership programme. At the same time, Minister Stanowski noted the need to deepen development cooperation stemming from European Neighbourhood Policy and to maintain the right balance between its southern and eastern dimensions - with the latter bearing special significance for Poland. In the Minister's opinion, Poland - a country which successfully gone through systemic transition - is ready to provide support to its partners.
The most important topics discussed during the meeting included the role of women and the family with regard to the current socio-political situation in Azerbaijan, equal access to education, and access to psychological counselling and free-of-charge legal assistance. Commenting on the social situation, the participants of the meeting emphasized the negative influence of the unregulated conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh on the social role and position of women, who often carry the burden of responsibility for entire families. Other important problems to be noted included the state of Azerbaijani orphanages and the possible directions for reform in this field. Another mentioned topic was the unadapted legal framework and the lack of relevant executive regulations, accompanied by a lack of understanding for the idea of foster homes. In Azerbaijan, the principle of equal access to higher education remains purely theoretical, while the implemented reforms do not solve the problem at heart. An equally complex problem is that of access to psychological counselling and free-of-charge legal assistance.
Minister Stanowski informed the participants of the Polish solutions to the problems in question, in particular highlighting Poland's successes in providing equal education opportunities for youth from smaller towns and larger cities, as well as active social involvement (e.g. social solidarity expressed during the campaigns conducted by the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity). Minister Stanowski extended the greetings of Polish President Bronisław Komorowski to the participants and expressed the hope that civil society in Azerbaijan will continue to flourish.