Ilham Aliyev: Azerbaijan's chairmanship in the Non-Aligned Movement to be built on principles of territorial integrity and upholding of mutual interests
President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev presented a welcome speech addressed to participants of 18th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement held in Baku. Azerbaijan received chairmanship of the organization.
According to Vestnik Kavkaza’s reporter who was working on the spot, Ilham Aliyev cordially saluted all the participants of the 18th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement. He expressed his gratitude to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela for the chairmanship in the Non-Aligned Movement during 2016-2019. President of Azerbaijan stressed that the Non-Aligned Movement serves the cause of promoting universal values and demonstrates the commitment to sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries. Having united 120 countries the movement is the second largest political institution after the UN General Assembley, where the nations of the world are represented.
Ilham Aliyev recalled that Azerbaijan was accepted to the Non-Aligned Movement in 2011. During the short period of time as a member of the movement our country has gained relevance as a resolute advocated of norms and principals of international law. During the 17th summit of the heads of states and governments, held in 2016, the uninanimous decision was made to hold the next summit in the city of Baku, to entrust Azerbaijan with chairmanship in the organization for the years 2019-2022. It is the embodiment of respect, trust and confidence in our country. President viewed this as a support of the Non-Aligned Movement that brings together most of the countries of the world to our policy, and he again expressed his gratitude for that decision.
President of Azerbaijan stated that during its chairmanship in the Non-Aligned Movement Azerbaijan will build its priorities and performance based on historic Bandung principles, the very principles that embody respect to sovereignty and territorial integrity of all the countries, non-interference in internal affairs, upholding of mutual interests and promotion of cooperation, concur with the core principles of Azerbaijan's foreign policy.
He also urged the participants to increase efforts to ensure universal implementation of the norms and principles of international law. Ilham Aliyev thinks that in this sense, there is a great need for reforms in the performance of the UN. Modifying of borders by force, violation of territorial integrity of countries by force and interference into internal affairs is unacceptable.
Ilham Aliyev promised that during the time of its chairmanship in the Non-Aligned Movement Azerbaijan will make efforts to establish and foster dialogue with other institutions, and thus expand the geography of cooperation. Given that the majority of the countries members to the movement are developing countries, we must develop cooperation in the economic sphere within the organization. In this sense, Azerbaijan's accession to the Group of 77 last month creates an opportunity for increasing our efforts further on the global scale in the socio-economic sphere, he stressed.
He also said that since 2005 Azerbaijan has rendered humanitarian and technical assistance to over 90 countries. The Agency for International Development of the Republic of Azerbaijan has implemented grant programs and projects in the spheres of poverty eradication, science, culture, healthcare, development of IT and efficient use of water resources in other areas in different countries of the world. Since 2018 Azerbaijan has offered scholarships for citizens of the Non-Aligned Movement member-states in the higher learning institutions of our country. And those are full scholarships. Today 37 youth from 31 member-states are benefiting from that program.
The head of the Azerbaijani state mentioned that youth policy in Azerbaijan is identified as a priority. Azerbaijani youth are brought up in the spirit of national sentiment, traditional values, bond with homeland and patriotism. This is why Azerbaijan has initiated the holding of the first ever youth summit of the Non-Aligned Movement. The youth from 40 countries participated in the youth summit.
Then, Ilham Aliyev spoke about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict because of which for more than 25 years the historic land of Azerbaijan, the Nagorno-Karabakh, and 7 adjacent districts, roughly 20% of the country's internationally recognized territory, has remained under Armenia's occupation. He said that Armenia has conducted a policy of ethnic cleansing against the Azerbaijanis, and as the result over 1 million Azerbaijanis have become refugees our internally displaced persons. With a deep regret he had to say that at that moment the country topped the list of countries with highest number of refugees and internally displaced people per capita in the world.
President informed his colleagues about the Khojaly genocide against the Azerbaijanis, perpetrated by Armenia: as the result of which 630 innocent people, including 106 and 63 children, were murdered just because they were Azerbaijanis. Over 1000 people went missing. Khojaly genocide was recognized internationally by more than 10 countries.
He also noted that UN Security Council adopted four resolutions that demand complete and unconditional withdrawal of all Armenian forces from the Azerbaijani territory. Unfortunately, those resolutions were never implemented. Sometimes it is the matter of several days that the UN Security Council resolutions are implemented, and then there are other incidents, such as the conflict that Azerbaijan faces today, when such resolutions remain on a paper for 26 years. Ilham Aliyev stated that the policy of double standards must be stopped. He added that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Cooperation Council of Turkic-speaking States, the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the OSCE and other prominent organizations have adopted resolutions and decisions, demanding restoration of Azerbaijan's territorial integrity.
Seizing this opportunity, the Azerbaijani leader thanked the member-states for support, expressed in the documents, adopted by the Non-Aligned Movement so far, to the resolution of the conflict in line with the UN Security Council resolutions and based on Azerbaijan's territorial integrity.
President stated that Armenia destroyed all of Azerbaijani historical monuments, mosques and cemeteries across Azerbaijan's occupied territories, plundered all the museums and tangible cultural riches. Armenia deliberately attempts to erase Azerbaijan's footprint in the occupied territories by replacing all the original monuments with Armenian ones. In contravention with international humanitarian law Armenia also implements the policy of illegal resettlement and conducts illicit economic activity in the occupied areas. As a result of military provocation by Armenia in April of 2016, six Azerbaijani civilians, including one child, were killed. 26 more were wounded. Hundreds of houses were destroyed.
Karabakh is Azerbaijan's ancestral land, and the conflict can only be settled based on territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan, President stressed.
Azerbaijan is conducting an independent foreign policy, according to him. This policy stems from national interests and justice, and it has helped us gain many friends world-wide. A vivid example of that was Azerbaijan's election as the UN Security Council non-permanent member with the support of 155 nations in 2011. During out membership in the Security Council, Azerbaijan has made great contribution to strengthen international peace, security and upholding of justice, and became an active player in international political processes. Azerbaijan is also contribution to international peacekeeping cooperation on the UN Security Council mandate.
Azerbaijan regularly hosts Russia-NATO and Russia-US meetings, held between top level military officials. Ilham Aliyev noted that there are nearly 200 countries around the world, and Azerbaijan's selection out of so many countries as a venue for such meetings is a sign of respect to independent foreign policy that we conduct.
President stated that Azerbaijan is committed to such values as democracy, human rights and personal freedoms and noted that over a century ago, in the East, in the Muslim world, the first ever democratic republic was established in Azerbaijan, and women were granted the right to vote ahead of most Western nations. He stressed that democratic development is Azerbaijan's conscious choice. All the fundamental human rights and freedoms, the rule of law and freedom of the press are ensured in Azerbaijan.
The head of the state also reported that Azerbaijan's economy has been growing at a fast pace, and the country's GDP has more than tripled in the past 15 years. More than 270 billion dollars were invested in Azerbaijan, half of them being foreign investments. Azerbaijan foreign debt accounts for 17% of our GDP, and based on this indicator we're ranked 9th in the world. Poverty in Azerbaijan stands at 5%. This year alone we've doubled minimal wage of social benefits, and minimal pensions were increased by 70%. Our program of targeted social assistance covers 68 thousand families, or 280 thousand people, which means that every such family receives a monthly social allowance of 140 dollars. In the last 15 years we have either build or completely renovated over 3200 schools and 640 hospitals. The literacy rate in Azerbaijan is nearly 100%. Over 300 thousand internally displaced persons were provided with three houses and apartments. The internally displaced families receive a monthly allowance of an equivalent of 180 US dollars.
President highlighted that Azerbaijan's accomplishments are recognized world-wide. According to the World Bank's Doing Business report for 2020, Azerbaijan is among the top 20 reformer countries. According to the Davos Economic Forum report, Azerbaijan ranks number 10 for the governments long-term strategy and 5 in terms of leadership's inclination towards reforms in the world. Azerbaijan is a space nation: it has three satellites, two of them being telecommunication ones, and third being Earth observation satellite.
Ilham Aliyev spoke about energy security in the country. According to the Davos World Economic Forum report, in terms of access to electricity index, Azerbaijan ranks second in the world. Azerbaijan is also supplies of energy to several other countries. Being a landlocked country, Azerbaijan serves as a bridge between Asian and European continents, and as such has initiated and participated in several regional transportation projects. Azerbaijan is an active participant of East-West and South-North transportation corridors, and is currently working on other key projects, such as South-West and North-West projects. Thus, as a reliable transit country, Azerbaijan makes a valuable contribution to multilateral international cooperation.
The republic also realizes that climate change is a global threat. Azerbaijan supports international efforts to tackle the consequences of climate change. Azerbaijan has ratified the Paris treaty and identified 35% reduction of green house emissions as a target for 2030, with 2019 being the base year. Ilham Aliyev stressed that only environmentally safe natural gas and hydropower plants are used for electricity generation is Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan enjoys the rich traditions of tolerance and multiculturalism. Multiculturalism is the way of life for Azerbaijani people. The Baku process that we started 11 years ago with participation of the member-countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Council of Europe is also supported by the UN. The UN Secretary General, Mr. Antonio Guterres, said that Baku process has been at the forefront of advocation for dialogue among cultures since 2008. Conceived as a logical continuation of the Baku process, the World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue held biannually in our country is recognized in the UN General Assembly resolution as a major platform for promotion intercultural dialogue.
In the conclusion of his speech, Ilham Aliyev expressed his confidence that discussion to be held at this summit will contribute to the implementation of goals of the Non-Aligned Movement's agenda. During its chairmanship, Azerbaijan will put forth consistent efforts to realize its priorities jointly with the member-states. He wished success to the work of the summit, and once again welcomed every one of the participants.