Statement by Elmar Mammadyarov Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, at the 36th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the OIC
Damascus, May 23-25, 2009
Dear Mr. Chairman,
Mr. Secretary General
Your Highnesses and Excellencies,
At the outset I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Syrian Arab Republic for hosting this important event in the beautiful city of Damascus. In particular, I would like to thank His Excellency President Bashar al-Assad and the Government and brotherly people of the Syrian Arab Republic for their warm hospitality and excellent arrangements for the 36th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers. It is my privilege and honour to congratulate you upon the assumption of the Chairmanship of the Council of Foreign Ministers and wish you every success in discharging these challenging responsibilities.
In the meantime, I would like to express my gratitude to the outgoing Ugandan OIC Chairmanship for its skilful stewardship of the Organization and excellent work done during its tenure. My words of appreciation also go to OIC Secretary General Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu and his highly dedicated team for their professionalism in the day-by-day activities of our Organization.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In the period after the 35th CFM session, Azerbaijan, being committed to the development of cooperation with the brotherly Islamic countries, has further strengthened its relations with the OIC Member States. We have continuously utilized numerous high-level visits, expert meetings, coordination in the international organizations to further strengthen and widen cooperation within the OIC.
Azerbaijan attaches a lot of importance to the implementation of the OIC Ten-year Program of Action. My country has recently hosted a number of important OIC events, such as the 4th Islamic Conference of Ministers of Higher Education and Scientific Research on 6-8 October 2008, and the First Islamic Conference of the Heads of Law- Enforcement Agencies on 21-22 April 2009.
Upon the 2007 OIC Conference of Culture Ministers decision, Azerbaijan’s capital Baku was proclaimed the Capital of Islamic Culture for 2009, and it was decided to hold 6th Islamic Conference of Culture Ministers in Baku in October 2009. It is my privilege today to invite the OIC Member States to this Conference.
I would also like to put special emphasis on another high level event held in Baku on December 2 – 3, 2008 – the Council of Europe Conference of Ministers of Cultures on Intercultural dialogue as a basis for peace and sustainable development in Europe and its neighboring regions. For the first time, ministers from the European countries along with their colleagues from ISESCO and Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization and Member States attended the Council of Europe’s Conference. In this regard, I would like to invite the OIC Member States to actively participate in “Baku Process” initiative aimed at enhanced intercultural dialogue between the Council of Europe and neighboring regions.
In recent years Azerbaijan has continued its active participation in humanitarian assistance programmes carried out through the OIC and UN frameworks, and we will continue this noble course further on.
Strengthening solidarity among the OIC Member States in the international organizations, particularly in the framework of the United Nations, is of utmost importance in addressing OIC Member States’ common pending issues. In this regard, the tendency to avoid abiding by the relevant OIC resolutions in the UN, whether in New York or Geneva, should be resolutely prevented as it damages the common interests of Ummah and misrepresents the image of our Organization.
I would also like to express once again Azerbaijan’s sincere gratitude to the Islamic Ummah and the OIC Secretary General for their support to the just cause of Azerbaijan in the ongoing conflict with Armenia and to elimination of the consequences of the armed aggression by Armenia, as a result of which almost 20% of Azerbaijan’s territory is under occupation by Armenia, around 1 million Azerbaijanis have been ethnically cleansed from their native lands, as well thousands of Azerbaijani cultural and historical monuments, including of Islamic heritage were devastated and looted.
Numerous OIC decisions and resolutions on the aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan and support of the OIC Member States have been instrumental in addressing the occupation of the territories of Azerbaijan by the international community and in particular by the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council.
On March 14, 2008, at its 62nd Session the UN General Assembly adopted resolution 62/243 “The situation in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan”. We highly value the support of the majority of the OIC Member States to this resolution, as well as written responses from a number of OIC countries for the UN Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of this resolution. At the same time, we notice with regret that this expression of solidarity was not unanimous.
The current situation in a number of the OIC Member States, which face numerous risks and challenges, remains a source of deep concern to us.
We remain concerned with the situation in Palestine. Once again, Azerbaijan reaffirms its support to brotherly people of Palestine and their efforts to achieve peace, stability, and establishment of a sovereign and independent Palestinian state, with Al-Quds as its capital. We highly value the work of the OIC Secretary General and his staff to consolidate our Organization in providing much needed assistance to population in Palestine.
Also, being deeply concerned at the suffering of Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights, I would like to reiterate our strong support to the right of the Syrian Arab Republic to recover its full sovereignty over occupied Golan and firm position in its commitment to a durable and comprehensive peace in the region.
Azerbaijan supports all the efforts of the Governments of Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, and other Member States to restore peace and stability in these countries and the settlement of the conflicts in the Islamic world based on the norms and principles of international law.
I would like to express our support to the initiatives taken to move forward the resolution of Kashmir dispute, and to express our concern with the continuing unjust isolation of Turkish Cypriots.
The current situation regarding misunderstanding of Islam in some parts of the world confirms vital necessity to strengthen our joint efforts to counter Islamophobia. In this context, it would be wrong to expect the Western world alone to take necessary measures to rectify the situation; we too have to address the today’s trends such as extremism, related terrorism, and religious fanaticism leading to such negative results. It is also important that we act in a proactive way, rather than just responding to such manifestations. In this context, the use of official diplomatic channels could be effectively augmented through involvement of media and Muslim communities in non- Muslim countries. Efforts to present true and correct image of Islam and its values to non-Muslim world need to be coordinated through appropriate OIC structures and more active dialogue with individual countries and international organizations.
We also believe that economic, cultural, educational, humanitarian, youth, gender fields remain important dimensions of cooperation among the Member States.
In conclusion, I would like once again to convey my wishes of success to the incoming Syrian Chairmanship and confirm our support to its work.