Chair of the Milli Majlis Sahiba Gafarova delivered a speech at the Mejlis of the Milli Geňeş (Turkmen Parliament) on 7 December as part of her official visit to Turkmenistan, the Press and Public Relations Department of the Milli Majlis told APA.
Sahiba Gafarova said that that was her first arrival in Turkmenistan as head of the parliament of Azerbaijan and, notably, it coincided with the thirtieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our states. Our peoples who have coexisted in peace for centuries are bonded with the common history, culture, language and creed. The two-way political, economic, transport, energy, humanitarian and other relations have grown further still and have acquired the nature of strategic partnership over the past years thanks to the determined action of the states’ leaders.
The projects and work afoot in a number of areas in our countries help make our linkage stronger and more: they serve to maintain stability, prosperity, sustainable development and co-operation in our region as well as in a larger area.
Both states support each other under the roofs of international organisations of which they are members.
Chair of the Milli Majlis seized the opportunity to congratulate the fraternal Turkmen nation on another anniversary of the international recognition of Turkmenistan’s neutrality that will be marked a few days later. She mentioned Azerbaijan’s having joined – as co-author – the UN resolution recognising the neutrality of Turkmenistan. President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan had said whilst underscoring the significance of this state’s neutrality status that Turkmenistan had gained a dramatic international reputation thanks to her independent foreign political course.
The current level of interaction between the fraternal countries fosters a continued expansion of links amongst their parliamentarians as deputies of the two nations, according to Madam Speaker. The co-operation built up amongst the two legislative assemblies is being rather very efficient whilst the reciprocal visits of their speakers and parliamentarians as well as their encounters at international events and joint efforts channelled via the friendship groups are contributing in their own way to the reinforcement of the linkage and intensification of the co-operation between our countries. The Co-operation Memorandum that the Milli Majlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Halk Maslahaty of the Milli Geňeş of Turkmenistan had signed today, too, pursues such goals precisely, Sahiba Gafarova emphasised.
Our interaction under the aegis of international parliamentary forums acquire special relevancy at the present time when parliamentary diplomacy is gaining in importance. Delegations of our legislatures join forces successfully in such supranational organisations as the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Parliamentary Union of the OIC Member States and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, for instance. The Parliamentary Network of the Non-Aligned Movement established in Madrid in November last year at the suggestion of the president of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev as the NAM Chair should be mentioned as well in view of it being a platform of significance for a continued strengthening of the multilateral interaction of our legislatures.
Going further, the leader of the Azerbaijani parliament told the participants of the session about the current realia of our country. An owner of ancient statehood traditions, Azerbaijan revealed to the world the Muslim East’s first ever democratic parliamentary republic back in 1918. While it is true that that republic only existed for 23 months, we were able to regain state independence in 1991 albeit having to face the grim prospect of possibly losing it again due to the then present political and economic tensions, a danger of civil war being set upon us and the Armenian occupation of our lands. The National Leader Heydar Aliyev who took up the national helm once more on the insistence of the nation, though, brought his resolve, immense experience and far-sighted policy to bear to let our state assert its independence as well as form the statehood basics and undertake formidable projects that set in motion the economic growth that followed. President Ilham Aliyev is firm on this course now and successfully, too; it is this exactly this factor that lies at the heart of all our achievements, Sahiba Gafarova continued.
The economy of Azerbaijan has been growing rapidly since 2003 and has secured a triple increase in that period. Its diversification with dependence upon the progress of the non-oil sector has been prioritised; the socio-economic reforms, meanwhile, have cut unemployment to approximately 6 per cent and poverty levels from 49 to roundabout 5 per cent. The investments put in the Azerbaijani economy total at USD 280 billion with a half of that being overseas investments.
As for the energy sector, a well thought-out strategy, hefty investments and the implementation of the oil and gas pipeline projects Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum, TANAP, TAP and the South Gas Corridor have turned Azerbaijan into a dependable exporter of energy resources contributing to the energy security of her partners.
The country has the most advanced transport infrastructure in place, besides. Sitting on the East-West and North-South transport arteries, Azerbaijan is today one of the leading transport and logistical hubs of Eurasia.
Azerbaijan follows an independent political line that rests on the norms and principles of international law whilst all her initiatives aim to achieve goal, security and co-operation. The country was elected to the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member for 2012-2013 with the concurrence of 155 states; that is a clear sign of the international confidence placed in our country. Besides, Azerbaijan is currently a successful chair of the Non-Aligned Movement, the world’s largest-embrace international organisation second only to the United Nations. Our republic appreciates very much the support that Turkmenistan gave to the Azerbaijani initiatives seeking to cement international solidarity in the face of the modern global challenges.
Sahiba Gafarova remarked as she continued her speech that 20 per cent of the territory of Azerbaijan recognised as such internationally had been occupied by our neighbour Armenia for close to three decades. One has to admit with regret the non-fulfilment throughout all that time of the relevant four resolutions of the UN Security Council and the numerous pertaining decisions and decrees of other international organisations.
Whilst its occupation grip held, Armenia had completely destroyed all our villages and towns, vandalised our heritage and cult sites, desecrated our mosques and shrines. The ethnic cleansing perpetrated by Armenia had made more than a million compatriots refugees and displaced persons. Armenia massacred hundreds of Azerbaijanis ruthlessly whilst committing the Khojali Genocide of 1992. Some 3,900 Azerbaijanis have been in the lists of the missing ever since the end of the Garabagh War I.
Azerbaijan restored her own territorial integrity as well as historical justice and, whilst doing so, also enforced the already-mentioned four resolutions of the UN Security Council as she prevailed in the 44-day Patriotic War of 2020.
Our state initiated restoration of its lands on a grand scale and at her own expense immediately they were delivered from captivity. The whole infrastructure decimated during the occupation is being built from scratch; new towns and villages are laid in Garabagh and East Zangazur, declared green energy zones. The erstwhile displaced people began their come-back to native parts and homes earlier this year.
The multitudes of mines that Armenia planted in the now-free territories pose the biggest obstacle to all those endeavours; almost 270 Azerbaijanis have either been killed or wounded in mine explosions since 10 November 2020. Armenia is evading the divulgence of complete and accurate minefield maps for us to peruse still; quite on the contrary, Armenia continues mining the liberated territories.
Though a victim to former occupation, Azerbaijan is making efforts to achieve lasting peace and stability in the region, and has offered Armenia to normalise the relations and to sign a peace treaty based on five international law principles. Lamentably, our vis-à-vis adheres to its vitriolic practice and is obstructing the peace process with subversive acts and controversial statements, let alone by flunking its assumed obligations. Armenia has not withdrawn its illegal armed outfits from the Azerbaijani territories completely yet; what is more, Armenia is refusing to allow uninterruptible communication between the mainland Azerbaijan and her Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic – even though the Zangazur Corridor, destined to become an integral part of the East-West transport line, will bring great benefits for the whole region to enjoy.
Armenia should abstain from such conduct and take real steps towards signing a peace treaty instead because this is the only way to ensure lasting peace and stability in the region.
Finishing her speech, the Chair of the Milli Majlis again brought up the subject of Azerbaijani-Turkmen relations and spoke of the intense satisfaction brought by our friendly and brotherly ties and co-operation growing stronger from day to day. Members of the parliaments, too, should spare no effort to make those bonds stronger and to solidify our solidarity and joint activities for such is the will of our nations and this is what the interests of our states dictate, according to Sahiba Gafarova.
The leader of the Azerbaijani legislature concluded her speech by wishing Turkmenistan peace, prosperity and progress.