Statement by Elmar Mammadyarov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, at the Annual Coordination Meeting of the OIC Foreign Ministers

Statement by Elmar Mammadyarov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, at the Annual Coordination Meeting of the OIC Foreign Ministers

New York, September 28, 2013

Dear Mr. Chairman,

Dear Mr. Secretary General,

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

At the outset, I would like to thank you, Mr. Chairman, and distinguished Secretary General Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu for having organized this Annual Coordination Meeting of the OIC Foreign Ministers. 

We are grateful to the Republic of Djibouti for a successful hosting of the 39th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers and excellent leadership of the OIC Group in New York. 

Distinguished Colleagues, 

As an organization based on shared Islamic values of peace, compassion, tolerance and human dignity and unique concept of fraternity of Islamic Ummah, the OIC is best placed to serve as a venue for dialogue and cooperation in the Islamic world on a wide range of issues, from peace and security to economic and human development. In order to take the full advantage of opportunity given by the organization, we need increased solidarity among OIC Member States. Only if we strictly adhere to our principles and uphold the centrality of political unanimity, we can succeed in institutionalizing the OIC as a venue where crucial decisions are made and implemented for enduring peace, security and prosperity of the Islamic world. 

Being committed to the letter and spirit of the OIC Charter, Azerbaijan fully supports the activity of the organization and the adopted Ten-Year Program of Action. In the framework of the successful implementation of this task last year Azerbaijan voluntarily contributed three millions US Dollars to the General Secretariat of OIC. Furthermore, Azerbaijan has recently hosted two successful conferences, namely, “The donor’s conference to finance the strategic plan for the development of the city of Al-Quds Al-Sharif” and “The establishment of Islamic financial safety net in support of the state of Palestine”. 

As the non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, Azerbaijan has been supporting all endeavors towards improving effectiveness of the UN system and achieving full respect for the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. As part of its presidency of the Security Council in October 2013, Azerbaijan intends to convene a high-level meeting with the purpose of exploring ideas and measures for strengthening the partnership synergy between the United Nations and the OIC.

Mr. Chairman, 

The Islamic world has been experiencing important developments since our last Annual Coordination Meeting. Nevertheless, to our deepest regret, we also register persistence and even deterioration of several security challenges facing the Islamic world. 

Azerbaijan is deeply concerned over the escalating violence in Syria that claimed so many innocent lives and endangers regional and international security. We pay utmost importance to maintaining peace and security in Syria, which is one of the cradles of the Islamic civilization. We cannot remain indifferent to the humanitarian crisis that forced hundreds of thousands of Syrians flee their homes. In that regards, we command the efforts of neighboring countries who take heavy burden of sheltering mass number of Syrian refugees. I want to renew our call on all parties to the Syrian crisis to immediately halt violence and to embark on a Syrian-led inclusive political process so as to find a solution to the problems of the nation in a peaceful manner. We hope that international efforts aimed at bringing the parties to a negotiation table will succeed and the Geneva conference will be convened as soon as possible. 

Azerbaijan strongly condemns the use of chemical weapons, which is a serious crime of international concern that amounts to a war crime and a crime against humanity. It is imperative to ensure accountability for such and other violations of international law committed during the conflict through relevant legal mechanisms. At the same time, it is also imperative that any response from the international community to devastating consequences of the conflict in Syria, whether collective or individual, be in full accordance with the relevant requirements laid down in the Charter of the United Nations. 

Mr Chairman, 

We need to remain consistent in defending the just cause of our Member States and the Muslim communities and minorities around the world. 

We reiterate our extended support to the brotherly people of Palestine and their efforts to achieve peace, stability and establishment of a sovereign and independent Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital. We are pleased to see already achieved positive developments and encouraging improvements such as the admission of the State of Palestine to UNESCO and the decision of the United Nations General Assembly to accord to Palestine non-member observer State status in the UN. Moreover, we note encouraging developments, with the resumption of direct negotiations between Israel and Palestine, which raises hopes that the situation may move from the state of a standstill towards working on solutions to the most contentious and lingering issues in the best interest of the two-state solution. At this stage, much result are contingent on the good will and commitment of the parties to continue direct talks and remain devoted to the quest of a lasting solution. It is critical that the parties avoid any actions that would risk undermining prospects during the negotiations. In that sense, settlement activity in the occupied Palestine territory continues to raise serious concerns. Such activity is illegal under international law and must be stopped immediately and unconditionally, regardless of the course of negotiations and their outcome. 

As all of you are aware, Armenia continues to use force to sustain military occupation of a substantial part of territories of Azerbaijan and to prevent one million Azerbaijani refugees and IDP’s from returning to their homes. No single Azerbaijani historic and cultural monument was left undamaged and no mosque and other sacred site escaped desecration both in the occupied territories and in Armenia. The situation is further complicated by Armenia’s irresponsible and unacceptable behavior in the overly sensitive domain of justice and reconciliation, as perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including acts of genocide against Azerbaijani people, not only remain unpunished, but even promoted and venerated. All of these are aimed at making the situation irreversible, the peace process meaningless and reconciliation between two peoples impossible. Armenia must finally realize that its irresponsible and provocative policy of territorial claims, animosity and hatred based on historical, cultural, racial and religious prejudices, has no chance to succeed. The earlier it grasps this, the sooner our countries will be able to reach mutual understanding and enjoy peace, stability and cooperation.

Azerbaijan has consistently demonstrated its adherence to a negotiated settlement of the conflict on the basis of the generally accepted norms and principles of international law and the relevant UN Security Council and OIC Resolutions. Consideration of this issue within the OIC is a yet another test for the resolve and consistency of its Member States in defending the principles and values of our organization. In that regards, I would like to thank the Member States for their continued support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and their condemnation of Armenian aggression.

Mr. Chairman, 

Recalling that Islam is the religion of moderation and that it advocates and implies tolerance and respect for other religions by its very name, we voiced our grave concern over the fact that during the last decades the notion of “Islamophobia” appeared and open up in some countries. To our deepest regret, it leads to the attacks and assault on and abuse of Islam, paves the way for discrimination against Muslims and their social and political exclusion and even at the worst case, triggers a number of acts of violence against Muslims. In addition, international terrorism artificially associated with Islam has marred the reputation of Muslims whereas significant numbers of Islamic countries suffer from terrorism.

In this connection, we believe that, the rise of “Islamophobia” has dangerous impact on the maintenance of international peace and security. Thus, it is critical that the leaders of the international community demonstrate their political will to address the issue with all its urgency, condemn all attacks against religions and reject any attempt to justify those heinous acts under the pretext of the freedom of expression. To that end, Azerbaijan has and will always call to combat defamation of religions and incitement to religious hatred and actively engage in promoting interreligious and intercultural dialogue. 

In conclusion, I would like re-emphasize the importance of the political unanimity and stronger practical cooperation among the Member States and wish tremendous successes to all of us on this path.

Thank you.

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