President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev attended the conference.
The head of state made a speech at the event.
Speech of President Ilham Aliyev
-Dear ladies and gentlemen,
Welcome to Azerbaijan. I am very glad to see you all. I hope you will have a pleasant stay in our city.
Today is, I think, an important event in the history of the Non-Aligned Movement. Here in Baku, we create NAM Parliamentary Network. I am very grateful to NAM member states for supporting this initiative of Azerbaijan, which is another step to strengthen our solidarity and mutual support. As a former member of the parliament of Azerbaijan for 8 years, as a former colleague of yours, I know very well how important is parliamentary diplomacy and interparliamentary relations. I am sure that our Parliamentary Network not only will contribute to solidarity between our countries, but also will establish close working relations with different parliamentary organizations of the world.
The Non-Alignment Movement is the second, after the United Nations, the biggest international institution and, of course, we all want that our voice is heard on a global scale. The parliamentary network is not the only initiative, which we put forward and got your support. Another important initiative is the youth network and next month here in Baku again we will have another important event, the Youth Summit of NAM. So, these are the steps towards the institutional development of NAM and I think the time has come to take practical steps in that direction. Another initiative, which Azerbaijan put forward and was supported by member states is the creation of the NAM support office in New York.
I think it is also the right time now to make more steps towards institutional development and that, in its turn, will help us to defend our interests on the international arena and also strengthen solidarity between our countries.
Azerbaijan is a relatively new member of NAM. We joined the NAM family in 2011 and from the very first days of our activity, we tried to contribute to solidarity, mutual support and promotion of the Bandung Principles. We fully share the Bandung Principles and we consider these principles as the only basis for cooperation and interaction between countries – territorial integrity, sovereignty, independence, and non-interference in each other’s affairs. If these principles were preserved by all countries, there would have been no wars, no conflicts and no injustice. So, from the first days of our activity, Azerbaijan became very active in all NAM endeavours. I think that was the main reason for the unanimous support of Azerbaijan’s candidacy to chair the Non-Aligned Movement and this great unanimous support of 120 countries was shown in 2016 to us. In 2019 in Baku, we organized and successfully held the NAM summit and assigned chairmanship for the years of 2019-2022. Also, we consider as a great sign of respect to our country and a sign of appreciation of our activity that our chairmanship in NAM again by unanimous decision of 120 countries was extended until late 2023. We are grateful for that and we will do everything in order to justify your support and demonstrate that was the right choice.
Our chairmanship in NAM coincided with COVID-19 and Azerbaijan was one of the countries which actively played a role in the international arena in combatting this disease. We initiated the NAM online summit and held it in May 2020 and that was the first step for NAM member states to consolidate our efforts in approaching the pandemic. As a result of that, we launched an initiative, which was supported by member states, to convene a special session of the General Assembly in response to COVID-19, which was successfully held in December 2020. Our efforts also were aimed not only to strengthen solidarity and provide support but also were very helpful to the World Health Organization, which started to use our database with respect to support to countries and with respect to humanitarian and medical assistance.
So, the database, which we created in member states was and is very useful in treating this pandemic and any other disease which may occur in the future. We provided financial support and humanitarian support to more than 80 countries. Also, we made a donation of 10 million US dollars to the World Health Organization and half of that money was assigned directly to NAM member states. So, our efforts with respect to the approach to COVID-19, I think, had a very important global reflection, because we were one of the countries, which was openly protesting against vaccine nationalism. We all remember that in the early days and months of the pandemic, some countries, wealthy countries, were stockpiling vaccines maybe three-four times more than they needed and thus not allowing other countries to get access to vaccines. We all witnessed that wealthy countries were using an absolute majority of the vaccines, while other countries were helpless. Therefore, our struggle against vaccine nationalism was also supported by the United Nations and I think that also had a very important impact on a fair distribution of vaccines.
So, in other words, Azerbaijan has always was demonstrating its position on regional issues, on global issues and, of course, as a chair of NAM, we will continue to fight against injustice, against violation of international law, against the selective approaches to different conflicts and against discrimination. We also witnessed great support from NAM member states. As I said, the unanimous decision to assign chairmanship of NAM and then to extend it was a clear demonstration of the attitude of countries towards Azerbaijan. Another important sign of solidarity we saw in the most difficult times in our country was when we were liberating our territories after almost 30 years of Armenian occupation. We were fighting on our own land. We were restoring justice and restoring international law, but unfortunately, some countries launched a campaign against us, a discrediting campaign, a campaign of slander and blackmail.
Unfortunately, this was not only a verbal campaign or public accusation. Some countries tried to bring this issue, our due cause, to the United Nations, to the Security Council. But, our friends, members of NAM, and at that time members of the UN Security Council, blocked an anti-Azerbaijani statement and blocked the attempt of accusation against Azerbaijan and thus, did not allow pro-Armenian global forces to attack Azerbaijan. We are very grateful for that, for your solidarity.
And once again I would like to say that we were restoring justice. Azerbaijan is a country which faced one of the biggest injustices in the world, occupation by Armenia of almost 20% of our territory, which resulted in ethnic cleansing – one million Azerbaijanis became refugees and internally displaced persons. Our historical and religious heritage was erased by Armenian occupants and now visitors of liberated territories can see it with their own eyes. This barbarism, vandalism and desecration of our mosques and destruction of our religious and cultural monuments – are all facts. No one can ignore it. No matter how pro-Armenian forces and their supporters want to neglect, they are not able to neglect these facts, because already thousands, maybe tens of thousands of people visited the liberated territories, including foreign visitors, of course, politicians, members of parliament, chairmen of parliament, journalists, experts and ordinary people, visitors.
We put an end to that. We restored justice and international law. When in 2019 in Baku I spoke at the NAM summit, I said that we will defend justice and international law. We know what it means when you cannot restore it yourself. When you depend on others, but we were waiting for many years, for almost 30 years. We were waiting for the international community to help to resolve this injustice and put an end to the occupation. For that purpose, the OSCE created the Minsk Group in 1992, which was supposed to find a solution to this conflict, in other words, to put an end to the occupation. But, on the contrary, the Minsk Group became an instrument in the hands of those who wanted this occupation to last forever.
And now, when Azerbaijan resolved the conflict, put an end to the occupation, and restored its territorial integrity by military and then political means, there is no need for the Minsk Group any longer. We already said farewell to the Minsk Group. But, unfortunately, Armenia and some others want to revitalize it. It is not possible. It is already dead and we, as a country which suffered from occupation, we say that openly and I think that any further speculation about the OSCE Minsk Group is not only counterproductive but also destructive to possible peace in our region.
On 10 November 2020, after 44 days of the liberation war, Patriotic War, Armenia had to capitulate and admit its defeat and then was forced to liberate the remaining territories, which were not liberated on the battlefield. And it took only 44 days for us, but we waited for almost 30 years. During the years of occupation, on many occasions, speaking on different international events, I was calling for sanctions to be imposed on Armenia and said that the only way how to resolve this problem peacefully is to impose sanctions on Armenia. The sanctions, which will be efficient and which will be damaging to the economy, but unfortunately no sanction was imposed. On the contrary, Armenia was getting much more support from some pro-Armenian politicians than Azerbaijan.
As we saw, the only purpose of the Minsk Group activity was to freeze the conflict and keep our lands under occupation forever. So, we put an end to that policy and liberated our lands by force and by our political wisdom.
I can tell you that the situation with the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan is not only a regional issue. It is a global issue because it is a full violation of not only basic international principles, it was also a violation and non-implementation of the UN Security Council Resolutions. In 1993, the United Nations Security Council adopted four resolutions demanding immediate, full and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian troops from our territory, and the question is why these resolutions were not implemented. No one can answer or maybe does not want to answer. Another question is why in some cases resolutions of the Security Council are implemented within days and in our case, they were on paper for 28 years and would have remained on paper for another 28 years if not for brave Azerbaijani military servicemen who liberated our lands.
And it is a question of reforms of the United Nations and its Security Council, because if resolutions are not implemented, then what is the sense of that? We speak for reforms and I think that this should be also discussed on the level of heads of state and government of NAM and to put an end to the selective implementation of the United Nations Security Council based on political preferences.
In general, I would say that we all know that the Non-Aligned Movement is the second biggest, after the United Nations, international institution. I think that we need to consolidate our efforts to strengthen our potential, strengthen solidarity, and try to speak with one voice. I know that there are certain problems between some member states. I think that NAM can be a platform to find a resolution to these problems and also should be a platform to defend the interests of our countries because members of NAM, many members of NAM, have a similar history, similar problems, faced many times injustice and tried to defend their national interests and we can do it together. Together we can do it more efficiently and we speak for that.
Thus, the initiatives of Azerbaijan as a chairman of NAM were aimed at strengthening solidarity and mutual support and institutional development of our institution and maybe at a certain stage transforming it into an organization. I know that throughout the history of NAM there have been discussions about that. So, I suggest restarting these discussions. It is high time, because today when we see global polarization in the world, we see wars, conflicts, unpredictable situations, food crises, energy crises, and humanitarian crises. I think NAM can be a platform for countries which can not only defend their interests and support each other, but also play a more active role in the international arena. We in Azerbaijan would like to see it and I hope that our distinguished guests, representatives of parliaments of NAM member states, will contribute to that and, of course, I will continue my consultations with heads of state and government of NAM.
Once again, dear friends, I would like to thank you for being with us. We will try to do everything to show traditional Azerbaijani hospitality to you. I hope that the conference will be not only very productive but also be a good chance for interaction, for establishing closer contacts. As a result, we will see progress in solidarity, in mutual support and in the strengthening of our institutions.
Thank you very much.
Then Speaker of Milli Majlis, Sahiba Gafarova, gave a speech and informed about the agenda of the conference. She said that in the end, the Baku Declaration and Regulations on the Rules of Procedure of the Parliamentary Network of the Non-Aligned Movement were adopted, the official logo and flag of the organization were approved, and the chairman and vice-chairmen of the organization were elected.
The conference, which will last three days, is being attended by the representatives of the parliamentary delegations of more than 40 countries and 9 international parliamentary organizations.
The heads of the delegations participating in the event will have meetings with the country’s officials.
The participants of the Baku conference of the NAM Parliamentary Network will visit the liberated territories of Azerbaijan, including the cultural capital city of Shusha, where they will get acquainted with the construction and improvement works.