Speech by Elmar Mammadyarov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, at the 6th Bali Democracy Forum
Bali, November 7, 2013
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the very outset, I would like to thank the Government of Indonesia, President of the Republic of Indonesia H.E. Dr. H. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia Mr. Marty M. Natalegawa for hosting an excellent organization of the 6th Democracy Forum. Azerbaijan supported this initiative-from the very inception as an effective platform and believes in its added value in terms of promotion of democracy through the exchange of best practices in Asia-Pacific region and well-beyond.
Azerbaijan is an ancient civilization, yet a young democracy. Since restoring itsindependence more than two decades ago, Azerbaijan has been building a free, democratic and secular society in which everyone can equally and fully enjoy human rights and fundamental freedoms, regardless of his or her racial, religious or ethnic background.
To this end, Azerbaijan continues to cooperate closely with the Council of Europe – the continent’s main human rights watchdog, as well as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe for further development of domestic human-rights protection mechanisms and fostering democratic reforms. In May 2014, Azerbaijan will assume the chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and during itspresidency it will encourage the cooperation with regional organizations, including those representing other continents. In this regard, there is an opportunity for joint activities between the Council of Europe and the Bali Forum’s implementing agency – the Institute of Peace and Democracy in order to raise the effectiveness of efforts in the crosscutting areas, like the promotion of inter-religious and intercultural dialogue.
Azerbaijan has always been a place of peaceful coexistence and tolerance between different ethnic groups and religions. As a bridge between East and West also active member of the Group of Friends of the Alliance of Civilizations, Azerbaijan contributesto the promotion of inter-religious and intercultural dialogue which is one of the main priorities of its foreign policy. World Intercultural Dialogue Forum and Baku International Humanitarian Forum organised regularly in our capital bring together the representatives of all continents to discuss the global challenges that the world facestoday. As President Aliyev stated recently during his inaugural speech, promotion of tolerance and multiculturalism is both modus vivendi and priority policy for Azerbaijan.
We in Azerbaijan believe that for promoting and strengthening democracy the country needs sustainable development and good economic performance. Azerbaijan has been recognized as one of the world’s top reformers. In the last ten years, the economy of Azerbaijan grew 3.4 times. Azerbaijan is determined to contribute to the realization of the development goals and objectives agreed within the UN. In 10 years poverty has dropped almost tenfold in Azerbaijan – from 49 to 5.5 per cent. Today, unemployment rate is about 5 per cent. Azerbaijan demonstrates full support and undertakes ceaseless efforts for eradication of poverty and promotion of sustainable development and global prosperity for all, paying particular attention to addressing the special needs as well as vulnerabilities of least developed countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. This is a brand new chapter in history of my country. A national entity, the Azerbaijan International Development Agency, which has been established to pursue these noble goals, has already carried out various assistance programs in more than 20 countries.Furthermore, the Heydar Aliyev Foundation has realized various humanitarian and social programs in its turn. Azerbaijan is keen to make further efforts in this direction.
As a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2012-2013, Azerbaijan fully dedicated itself to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security with recognition that the UN Security Council must be more inclusive, transparent and efficient body so that it could address effectively the full range of challenges and threats confronting our modern world. During our chairmanship in the Security Council in May 2012 and October 2013, promotion of international cooperation against terrorism andencouragement of cooperation between the United Nations and regional organisationsin the peaceful settlement of disputes were among our priorities. To this end, two high-level meetings were organised by the Azerbaijani presidency in order to streamline the international efforts.
The world is still facing violations of fundamental norms and principles of international law. Today, the occupation by Armenia of our internationally recognized territories –Nagorno Karabakh region and 7 adjacent districts continues to represent the major challenge to maintain basic human rights in Azerbaijan which resulted the forced displacement of a million Azerbaijani civilians still causing serious harm to economic welfare, health and education of our citizens. 4 UN Security CouncilResolutions of 1993 reaffirming respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and demanding the immediate, full and unconditional withdrawal of the occupying forces from all the occupied territories still remain unfulfilled. In this regard, it is critical that the international community continues to insist on the implementation of these UN Security Council Resolutions with a view to facilitating the negotiated settlement of the conflict.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, let me wish all success to this Forum and reiterate my country’s determination to contribute to its work.