Milli Majlis Chair Sahiba Gafarova Speaks at 17th PUIC Conference

Milli Majlis Chair Sahiba Gafarova Speaks at 17th PUIC Conference
# 31 January 2023 00:34 (UTC +04:00)

As reported previously, Chair of the Milli Majlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan Sahiba Gafarova is in the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria on a working visit. During that visit, the leader of the Azerbaijani legislature took the floor at the 17th session of the Conference of the Parliamentary Union of the OIC Member States Islamic World: Challenges of Modernisation and Development held in Algiers, the Press and Public Relations Department of the Milli Majlis told APA.

On greeting the session participants and thanking the Algerian Parliament for the invitation to the event as well as their hospitality, Speaker of the Milli Majlis said that the Islamic world was facing serious challenges awaiting their solution still despite its rich history and cultural legacy as well as tremendous natural and human resources. Poverty, social and economic inequalities, armed confrontations, humanitarian crises, terrorism and extremism severely affect and constrain modernisation and development efforts. On the other hand, the torching of the Qur’an in Denmark and in front of the Turkish embassy in Sweden as well as what is happening in the Netherlands show that not only haven’t islamophobia, xenophobia and racism ceased to exist but, rather, continue creating divides and fanning hatred whilst masquerading in the guises of democracy, human rights and freedom of speech.

Now, the Islamic World needs unity and solidarity in line with eternal Islamic values of peace, tolerance, harmony and justice in order to overcome these challenges and realise its full potential. The Organisation of Islamic Co-operation has become an important and effective umbrella for strengthening our solidarity and is a crucial framework for development of our co-operation, joint actions and a firm stance on common causes. What with parliamentary diplomacy having become an important tool of international politics in today’s circumstances, this Parliamentary Union has every opportunity to evolve further as an effective solidarity, dialogue and co-operation platform.

Building and developing bilateral and multilateral co-operation with Islamic countries has always been among the key priorities of Azerbaijan`s foreign policy, as is evident from the initiatives to hold various meetings of OIC countries’ ministers and conferences on Palestine, and establishment of new entities such as the OIC Youth Forum, OIC Labour Centre and the Journalist Association of OIC Member States. Hosting the 4th Solidarity Games in 2017 and the extension of financial and humanitarian aid to Muslim countries during the COVID-19 pandemic too were Azerbaijan’s efforts to strengthen solidarity amongst the Islamic states.

In open defiance of islamophobia, Azerbaijan has organised conferences and exhibitions in many countries to promote the Islamic cultures and to demonstrate the true essence of Islam as a religion of peace and mercy. The Baku Process launched in 2008 with the participation of the OIC and Council of Europe member-states and the World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue being its continuation have already been recognised in resolutions of the UN General Assembly as the key global platform for supporting intercultural dialogue.

Sahiba Gafarova emphasised that active co-operation and mutual support amongst Islamic countries in international organisations made certain that their voices were heard in the international arena. The Islamic states supported Azerbaijan’s election as a member of the UN Security Council for 2012-2013 and, during her membership, Azerbaijan had put forward and implemented proposals serving the interests of the Islamic world. Those were an international conference on fighting terrorism and a summit meeting on the expansion of co-operation between the UN and the OIC.

Going further, Speaker Gafarova said she trusted that the participating states of the Non-Aligned Movement’s Parliamentary Network established at the suggestion of President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan and of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation resolved to build up mutually advantageous collaboration by having signed a memorandum of co-operation at the current conference and granted each other the observer status.

‘I believe this co-operation will serve our common goals,’ Mrs Gafarova emphasised.

The world we are witnessing now have taught us that certain behaviours and pursued policies never change. This has become a weak point of today's international system. Comparing past and present experiences, it becomes evident that, actually, the essence of these policies remains the same, only methods of realisation change in tune with the demands of the time.

‘We are all grateful to Algeria - prominent member of Islamic world, an independent and developing country, for hosting today’s conference. But we know that these achievements were gained at the cost of the lives of more than one and a half million martyrs after the long years of unprecedented violence, atrocities, and war crimes committed by France against the people of Algeria,’ Speaker Gafarova continued.

In the early 1990s, approximately 30 years since Algeria had gained independent, 20 per cent of the territory of Azerbaijan recognised as such internationally became occupied by the neighbouring Armenia, and that occupation had lasted for 30 years. Armenia had coventrated all our towns and villages and had subjected the Azerbaijani historical, cultural and religious heritage to vandalism during those years. In utter disrespect and hatred of all the Muslims, Armenia had also desecrated and destroyed our mosques, and had then used what had remained of them as pigsties and cowsheds. Mrs Gafarova stressed that more than a million Azerbaijanis had been displaced from the captured territories and become refugees from Armenia as a result of ethnic cleansing unleashed by this state.

The four resolutions that the UN Security Council passed in 1993 as well as the resolutions and decisions of other international organisations such as the OIC, for instance, demanded instantaneous, complete and unconditional withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces from the territories they had occupied. The OSCE Minsk Group was intermediary in the talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan. As it seemed eventually, though, rather than help settle the conflict, the Group in general and France in particular had been attempting to freeze the matter so that the ‘neither war nor peace’ situation would remain perpetually.

In 2020, using the right of self-defence as provided for in Article 51 of the UN Charter, and at the cost of the lives of almost three thousand martyrs, Azerbaijan implemented those UN Security Council resolutions as well as norms and principles of international law and restored her territorial integrity and historical justice alike.

Azerbaijan continues large-scale efforts to restore and revive the formerly occupied territories and has initiated the return of the erstwhile IDP to their homelands, Sahiba Gafarova mentioned before telling the conference session participants that she was certain of the eventual restoration of also the rights of those Azerbaijanis who had been evicted from their centuries-long native provinces in the present-day Armenia – their right to return to their homes will be realised in due course. The Community of Western Azerbaijan made up of those people has already petitioned to the international community and drawn up The Concept of Return for the practical implementation of this process.

Azerbaijan followed up the conclusion of Garabagh War II with a peace agenda and an initiative to normalise the relations with Armenia – but Armenia has not done its assumed duties yet. Quite on the contrary, Armenia is being destructive towards the outlined process and is trying to mislead the international community with false claims. It is hardly surprising, is it not, that all those manipulations receive the support of no other but France – and are even instigated by no other but France.

All that leads us to another important point – double standards and selective approaches in international organisations, particularly, the UN Security Council. The necessity of reforms in this entity has been voiced by many countries. Recently, President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan too brought up this issue in his media interview.

President Aliyev underscored the necessity of reviewing the Security Council structure-wise and suggested that a permanent place on it should be given to a member-state of each of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation and the Non-Aligned Movement. This would mean a fairer and better-balanced representation in view of the modern international politics, in the opinion of Sahiba Gafarova.

Turning then to the subject of the terrorist assault upon the embassy of Azerbaijan in the Islamic Republic of Iran on 27 January, the Milli Majlis leader strongly condemned that treacherous assailment and mentioned the serious international ripples it had caused. The responsibility for this attack falls squarely on the Iranian side; as a host country of the embassy, Iran should have fulfilled its obligations to ensure the security of both the embassy and its staff following the provisions of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. We demand that the perpetrators and instigators of this bloody act of terror be identified as soon as possible and punished in the most impartial way possible, said Chair of the Milli Majlis of Azerbaijan.

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