Statement by Elmar Mammadyarov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, at the 7050th meeting of the UN Security Council

Statement by Elmar Mammadyarov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, at the 7050th meeting of the UN Security Council

28 October 2013

Dear Members of the Security Council,

Today, the Security Council is considering for the first time the question of cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in a special meeting. It speaks for itself.

The OIC is not only the organization that represents all Muslim nations. It is the second largest intergovernmental organization after the United Nations, with 57 Member States and 5 observers from 4 continents.

The beginning of cooperation between the UN and the OIC goes back to 1975, when the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 3369 (XXX). Over the past period the OIC has proved to be an important partner of the United Nations in promoting peace and security and fostering a culture of peace at the global level.

Many of the issues on the Security Council agenda relate to the Islamic world, and the OIC is naturally seized of them. This fact necessitates the closer cooperation and coordination between the Security Council and the OIC in order to benefit from global, regional and local approaches in addressing those issues.

A just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East and the comprehensive resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict continue to remain one of the most pressing issues in the agenda of both the United Nations and OIC. Azerbaijan welcomes efforts aimed at the resumption of direct negotiations between Israel and Palestine. It is imperative that the parties demonstrate responsibility to sustain international efforts towards achieving the two-State solution and avoid actions that would undermine this objective with the ultimate goal to restore and enhance peace, security and sustainable development in the entire region.

This June Azerbaijan hosted the Conference of the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation on the establishment of an Islamic Financial Safety Net in Support of Palestine and the Donors Conference in Support of the City of Al-Quds. The OIC Member States and international organizations attended the conferences pledged to contribute to improving Palestine's economy, infrastructure, healthcare and education.

With regard to Syria, we hope that the unanimous and strong position demonstrated recently by the Security Council will contribute to finding a political solution to the conflict in that country, putting an end to the suffering of the Syrian people and ensuring compliance by the parties concerned with their obligations and commitments under international law.

Under the Charter of the United Nations, the Security Council is conferred with primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. Therefore, as a matter of priority, apart from the Council’s credibility and effectiveness, special attention should be given to the implementation of its resolutions, in particular those related to the prevention and settlement of conflicts.

Twenty years ago, in 1993, the Security Council adopted four resolutions in response to the use of force against Azerbaijan and the occupation and ethnic cleansing of about 20% of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territories by neighboring Armenia that resulted in emergence of almost 1 million refugees and internally displaced persons. It means that every ninth person in 9 million Azerbaijan is either a refugee or a displaced person.

These resolutions – 822, 853, 874 and 884 – reaffirmed respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and the inviolability of its international borders; and demanded the immediate, full and unconditional withdrawal of the occupying forces from all the occupied territories. Unfortunately, key Security Council demands have still not been implemented, and the mediation efforts conducted for more than 20 years within the framework of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe have yet to yield results.

In 2005 and 2010, on our initiative in the United Nations, two OSCE-led fact-finding and fact-assessment missions visited the occupied territories. Both missions documented the facts of illegal activities in those areas, inter alia, implanting settlers, extensive redrawing of boundaries, changing original geographic names, and discriminatory treatment regarding cultural property and sacred sites including the destruction of Mosques. It is worth mentioning that the Armenian Church in Baku remains preserved and fully protected.

Since the eruption of the conflict, based on the aforementioned resolutions of the Security Council, the OIC has explicitly determined the actions of Armenia on the territory of Azerbaijan as aggression. A series of OIC decisions aimed at the implementation of Security Council resolutions have been instrumental in addressing the occupation of the territories of Azerbaijan by the international community, including in particular within the United Nations Security Council and the General Assembly.

Armenia's annexationist policy has absolutely no chance of success. Nagorno-Karabakh is a historical, inalienable and integral part of Azerbaijan. The only way to achieve a settlement of the conflict and to establish civilized relations between the two neighboring States is to de-occupy the Azerbaijani territories, fully re-establish the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, and immediately provide for compliance with the inalienable right of refugees and internally displaced persons to return to their homes.

Dear Council Members,

Here there is the need to emphasize the fundamental contribution that the Islamic culture made to global civilization, world science and education. Islam is the religion of moderation; and by its very name, which means “peace”; it advocates and implies tolerance and respect for other religions and faiths. Misperceptions about Islam and Muslims have become the most persistent and virulent sources of the phenomenon of Islamophobia, resulting in prejudicial practices and incitement against Muslims without any distinction. Attempts to create a conceptual link between Islam and terror are unacceptable. The war on terrorism should not be used to target or label any particular religion or culture. The current state of affairs confirms a vital need for joint efforts and dialogue to counter instances of defamation and misconceptions.

It is therefore critical to persistently stress the importance of respect and understanding for religious and cultural diversity throughout the world. The common commitment of both the United Nations and the OIC to foster a global dialogue for the promotion of tolerance and peace and their enhanced cooperation to that end is indispensable for promoting better understanding across countries, cultures and civilizations.

The problems that the world is facing today are so numerous and compound that peace and security has become not only a military concept, but also an economic, social, development and multicultural one.

In this context and given the topic of today’s discussion, there is also a need to critically analyze the role and contribution that every Member State carries out in order to strengthen this cooperation, increase mutual support and understanding.

Azerbaijan enjoys membership of both the OIC and European organizations, such as the OSCE, the Council of Europe and others. Accordingly, this has reflected on our international activities. Therefore, I would like to share with you some instances of Azerbaijan’s contribution to the cause of peace, security and development.

During our first presidency of the Security Council in May 2012, a special meeting was dedicated to one of the very critical items in the Council’s agenda – Measures to eliminate international terrorism, with the adoption of a presidential statement.

As its counter-terrorism contribution, Azerbaijan has been one of the first participants of ISAF since 2002. Meeting the needs of our partners, we have assisted in complex transit operations, organized a number of demining and other training courses for Afghanistan.

During the last decade Azerbaijan has made tangible progress in terms of MDGs through reducing poverty line from 49 to less than 6%, creating more than 1 million new jobs, having tripled its GDP as well as being ranked 39th among 148 countries in the Global Competitiveness Index 2013-2014 of the World Economic Forum.

These accomplishments have enabled Azerbaijan to become a donor country and contribute to sustainable development efforts of countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. This is a totally new chapter in the history of Azerbaijan and its activities on the international arena. AIDA – the Azerbaijan International Development Agency – has already carried out various assistance programs in more than 20 countries. The Heydar Aliyev Foundation has provided various humanitarian and social programs in its turn.

Azerbaijan is a reliable partner and continues to play an increasingly important role in the enhancing of energy security by providing huge volumes of hydrocarbons to the global market. Two new projects, TANAP and the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), are pursued to increase gas supplies to European markets. Moreover, by offering thousands of new jobs and attracting large amounts of FDIs, TAP will also have a positive impact on the socio-economic development of the relevant European countries recovering from the crisis.

The development of information and communication technologies and international cooperation in this field are among our top priorities. This year we launched our first national telecommunication satellite to benefit not only to our consumers but also to those in Asia and Africa.

Further, Azerbaijan has put forward a proposal to establish the Eurasian Connectivity Alliance – an inter-regional platform in support of improved connectivity. We are encouraged by Member States’ support to this initiative and look forward to further cooperation with interested Governments and other stakeholders.

Located between the two great continents of Asia and Europe, Azerbaijan is a unique place where East and West meet, world main religions peacefully coexist, values and traditions of different cultures complement harmonically each other. It is not a coincidence that our country has become a destination of numerous international fora aimed at promoting the dialogue among civilizations, creating better understanding among representatives of different religions, faiths and cultures. In three days, on October 31st we will be hosting the III Baku International Humanitarian Forum.

Azerbaijan is an integral part of the Islamic world and we are proud that Baku was declared the capital of Islamic culture in 2009 and another ancient city of Azerbaijan, Nakhchyvan, will assume this honorary title in 2018.

It is equally important for us that Baku Process, which was launched at the Conference of Ministers of Culture of Europe and its neighbouring regions in December 2008, envisages the promotion and strengthening of intercultural dialogue between Europe and regions surrounding it. Azerbaijan is an active member of the Group of Friends of the Alliance of Civilisations and has contributed a lot to its activities.

In 2015 Azerbaijan will host the first ever European Games and in 2017 the Islamic Solidarity Games.

All these are vivid and clear manifestation of a genuine bridging role that Azerbaijan plays internationally and regionally today. We consider all these activities as the best contribution to the maintenance of international peace and security.

This December Azerbaijan completes its membership of the Security Council. That has been 2 years of outstanding experience and great collective work. I assure all of you that Azerbaijan will further remain a reliable partner and genuine friend.

Thank you for your attention.

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