On June 30, the Baku Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement Parliamentary Network devoted to the topic “Boosting the role of national parliaments in promoting global peace and sustainable development” commenced at the Heydar Aliyev Centre.
H.E. Mr. Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan and Incumbent Chair of the Non-Aligned Movement, gave a speech at the opening ceremony of the conference.
Speech by H.E. Mr. Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan:
Dear ladies and gentlemen,
Welcome to Azerbaijan. I am very glad to see you all. I hope you will have a pleasant stay in our city. Today is, I think, an essential event in the history of the Non-Aligned Movement. Here in Baku, we create NAM Parliamentary Network. I am very grateful to NAM member states for supporting this initiative of Azerbaijan, which is another step to strengthen our solidarity and mutual support. As a former member of the parliament of Azerbaijan for eight years as a former colleague of yours, I know very well how important is parliamentary diplomacy and inter-parliamentary relations. I am sure that our Parliamentary Network will not only contribute to solidarity between our countries but also will establish close working relations with different parliamentary organizations of the world.
The Non-Alignment Movement is the second, after the United Nations, the largest international institution, and, of course, we all want that our voice is heard on a global scale. The parliamentary network is not the only initiative we put forward and got your support. Another important initiative is the youth network, and next month here in Baku, we will have another important event, the Youth Summit of NAM. So, these are the steps toward the institutional development of NAM, and I think the time has come to take practical steps in that direction. Another initiative Azerbaijan put forward and was supported by member states is the creation of the NAM support office in New York. I think it is also the right time now to make more steps towards institutional development and that, in its turn, will help us to defend our interests in the international arena and also strengthen solidarity between our countries. Azerbaijan is a relatively new member of NAM. We joined the NAM family in 2011, and from the very first days of our activity, we tried to contribute to solidarity, mutual support and promotion of the Bandung Principles. We fully share the Bandung Principles, and we consider these principles as the only basis for cooperation and interaction between countries - territorial integrity, sovereignty, independence, and non-interference in each other’s affairs. If these principles were preserved by all countries, there would have been no wars, no conflicts and no injustice. So, from the first days of our activity, Azerbaijan became very active in all NAM endeavors. I think that was the main reason for unanimous support of Azerbaijan’s candidacy to chair the Non-Aligned Movement, and this great unanimous support of 120 countries was shown in 2016 to us. In 2019 in Baku, we organized and successfully held the NAM summit and assigned chairmanship for the years 2019-2022. Also, we consider as a great sign of respect for our country and a sign of appreciation for our activity that our chairmanship in NAM, again by unanimous decision of 120 countries, was extended until late 2023. We are grateful for that, and we will do everything to justify your support and demonstrate that it was the right choice.
Our chairmanship in NAM coincided with COVID-19, and Azerbaijan was one of the countries which actively played a role in the international arena in combating this disease. We initiated the NAM online summit and held it in May 2020, and that was the first step for NAM member states to consolidate our efforts in approaching the pandemic. As a result of that, we launched an initiative, which was supported by member states, to convene a special session of the General Assembly in response to COVID-19, which was successfully held in December 2020. Our efforts were aimed not only to strengthen solidarity and provide support but also were very helpful to the World Health Organization, which started to use our database with respect to support countries and with respect to humanitarian and medical assistance. So, the database, which we created in member states, was and is very useful in treating this pandemic and any other disease which may occur in the future.
We provided financial support and humanitarian support to more than 80 countries. Also, we made a donation of 10 million US dollars to the World Health Organization, and half of that money was assigned directly to NAM member states. So, our efforts with respect to the approach to COVID-19, I think, had a very important global reflection because we were one of the countries openly protesting against vaccine nationalism. We all remember that in the early days and months of the pandemic, some countries, wealthy countries, were stockpiling vaccines maybe three-four times more than they needed and thus not allowing other countries to get access to vaccines. We all witnessed that wealthy countries were using an absolute majority of the vaccines while other countries were helpless. Therefore, our struggle against vaccine nationalism was also supported by the United Nations, which significantly impacted the fair distribution of vaccines. So, in other words, Azerbaijan has always demonstrated its position on regional and global issues. As a chair of NAM, we will continue to fight against injustice, violation of international law, and selective approach to different conflicts and discrimination.
We also witnessed great support from NAM member states. As I said, the unanimous decision to assign chairmanship of NAM and then extend it was a clear demonstration of the attitude of countries towards Azerbaijan. Another important sign of solidarity we saw in the most difficult times in our country was when we were liberating our territories after almost 30 years of Armenian occupation. We were fighting on our land. We were restoring justice and international law, but unfortunately, some countries launched a campaign against us, a discrediting campaign of slander and blackmail. Unfortunately, it was not only a verbal campaign or public accusations. Some countries tried to bring this issue, our due cause, to the United Nations, to the Security Council. But, our friends, members of NAM, at that time members of the UN Security Council, blocked an anti-Azerbaijani statement and blocked the attempt of accusation against Azerbaijan and thus, did not allow pro-Armenian global forces to attack Azerbaijan.
We are very grateful for that, for your solidarity. And once again, I would like to say that we were restoring justice. Azerbaijan is a country that faced one of the biggest injustices in the world, occupation by Armenia of almost 20% of our territory, which resulted in ethnic cleansing – one million Azerbaijanis became refugees and internally displaced persons. Our historical and religious heritage was erased by Armenian occupants, and now visitors of liberated territories can see it with their own eyes. This barbarism, vandalism and desecration of our mosques and destruction of our religious and cultural monuments – are all facts. No one can ignore it. No matter how pro-Armenian forces and their supporters want to neglect, they are not able to neglect these facts because already thousands, maybe tens of thousands of people visited the liberated territories, including foreign visitors, of course, politicians, members of parliament, chairmen of parliament, journalists, experts and ordinary people, visitors. We put an end to that. We restored justice and international law. In 2019, in Baku, I spoke at the NAM summit. I said that we would defend justice and international law. We know what it means when you cannot restore it yourself. When you depend on others, we have been waiting for many years, for almost 30 years. We were waiting for the international community to help to resolve this injustice and put an end to the occupation.
For that purpose, the OSCE created the Minsk Group in 1992, which was supposed to find a solution to this conflict, in other words, to put an end to the occupation. But, on the contrary, the Minsk Group became an instrument in the hands of those who wanted this occupation to last forever. And now, when Azerbaijan resolved the conflict, put an end to the occupation, and restored its territorial integrity by military and then political means, there is no need for the Minsk Group any longer. We have already said farewell to the Minsk Group. But unfortunately, Armenia and some others want to revitalize it. It is not possible. It is already dead, and we, as a country that suffered from occupation, openly, and I think that any further speculation about the OSCE Minsk Group is not only counterproductive but also destructive for possible peace in our region.
On 10 November 2020, after 44 days of the liberation war, Patriotic War, Armenia had to capitulate and admit its defeat and then was forced to liberate the remaining territories, which were not liberated on the battlefield. And it took only 44 days for us, but we waited for almost 30 years. During the years of occupation, on many occasions, speaking at different international events, I called for sanctions to be imposed on Armenia and said that the only way to resolve this problem peacefully was to impose sanctions on Armenia. The sanctions that would be efficient and damaging to the economy, but unfortunately, no sanctions were imposed. On the contrary, Armenia was getting much more support from some pro-Armenian politicians than Azerbaijan. As we saw, the only purpose of the Minsk Group activity was to freeze the conflict and keep our lands under occupation forever. So, we put an end to that policy and liberated our lands by force and by our political wisdom. I can tell you that the situation with the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan is not only a regional issue. It is a global issue because it is a full violation of not only basic international principles but also a violation and non-implementation of the UN Security Council Resolutions. In 1993, the United Nations Security Council adopted four resolutions demanding immediate, full and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian troops from our territory. The question is why these resolutions were not implemented. No one can answer or maybe does not want to answer. Another question is why in some cases, resolutions of the Security Council are implemented within days. In our case, they were on paper for 28 years and would have remained on paper for another 28 years if not for the brave Azerbaijani military servicemen who liberated our lands. And it is a question of reforms of the United Nations and its Security Council because if resolutions are not implemented, then what is the sense of that? We speak for reforms, and I think this should also be discussed on the level of heads of state and government of NAM to put an end to the selective implementation of the United Nations Security Council based on political preferences.
In general, I would say that we all know that the Non-Aligned Movement is the second biggest, after the United Nations, international institution. We must consolidate our efforts to strengthen our potential, strengthen solidarity, and try to speak with one voice. I know that there are certain problems between some member states. I think that NAM can be a platform to find a resolution to these problems and also should be a platform to defend the interests of our countries because members of NAM, many members of NAM have a similar history, similar problems, and have faced many times injustices and tried to defend their national interests, and we can do it together. Together we can do it more efficiently, and we speak for that. Therefore, initiatives of Azerbaijan as a chairman of NAM were aimed at strengthening solidarity and mutual support and institutional development of our institution and maybe at a certain stage to transform it into an organization. I know that throughout the history of NAM, there have been discussions about that. So, I suggest restarting these discussions. It is high time because today when we see global polarization in the world, we see wars, conflicts, unpredictable situations, food crisis, energy crisis, and humanitarian crisis. I think NAM can be a platform for countries that can not only defend their interests and support each other but also play a more active role in the international arena.
We in Azerbaijan would like to see it, and I hope that our distinguished guests, representatives of parliaments of NAM member states, will contribute to that and, of course, I will continue my consultations with the heads of state and government of NAM.
Once again, dear friends, I would like to thank you for being with us. We will try to do everything to show traditional Azerbaijani hospitality to you. I hope that the conference will be not only very productive but also be a good chance for interaction, for establishing closer contacts. As a result, we will see progress in solidarity, mutual support and the strengthening of our institutions.
Thank you very much.
Following the President, Ms. Sahiba Gafarova, Speaker of the Milli Majlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan, has given her statement:
His Excellency Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is with great pleasure and privilege that I greet you all today at the Baku Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement Parliamentary Network.
It is an honour to have His Excellency Mr. Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, with us today. On behalf of all participants, I would like to extend our deep gratitude to His Excellency Mr. President for the noble initiative to establish the NAM Parliamentary Network.
The inspiring address Mr. President delivered today to the Baku Conference is a testament to his unwavering commitment, in his capacity as the Chair of NAM to strengthen unity within the Movement through multidimensional cooperation among its Members.
Dear participants, at the 18th Summit of NAM held in Baku, the Heads of State and Government decided to expand and deepen interaction and cooperation among the parliamentarians of NAM.
Last November in Madrid, in accordance with the initiative of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, we inaugurated the Parliamentary Network of the Non-Aligned Movement on the sidelines of the 143rd Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
Today, the parliaments of more than 40 NAM States and 8 international parliamentary organizations are represented at the Baku Conference.
We consider it as a clear manifestation of the importance given to the parliamentary cooperation by the Member States. The conference also raises our hopes and confidence in relation to the Network’s future active engagement in global parliamentary diplomacy.
The Baku Conference will be a truly remarkable event: we are going to adopt, during its proceedings, the Statute on Working Modalities of the NAM Parliamentary Network, as well as the Network’s official logo and flag. We are also going to elect the Chairperson and Vice-Chairpersons of the Network for the coming three years.
Another remarkable feature of the Baku Conference is the fact that, as purposefully initiated by the Azerbaijani side, it coincides with the 30th of June - the International Day of Parliamentarism. And taking this opportunity, I congratulate each and every one of you on this solemn occasion.
I also express my confidence that the NAM Parliamentary Network, through its activities, will contribute to the development of inter-parliamentary cooperation on a global scale.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We are aware of the initiatives of the Non-Aligned Movement, under the Chairmanship of Azerbaijan, aimed at addressing the negative consequences of the pandemic, as well as the post-pandemic global recovery. The collective support of NAM Parliaments for these initiatives has been reflected in the Madrid Declaration and will also be reiterated in the Baku Declaration that we have agreed to adopt today.
Our world today is going through a period of tremendous transformation, where global security and development architecture is experiencing very strong and very serious fluctuations considering the ongoing pandemic, armed conflicts, climate change and many other challenges.
This further reinstates the continued relevance of the founding ideals and the significant role of the Non-Aligned Movement in maintaining peace, security, and sustainable development. Parliamentary diplomacy is of significant importance, especially in the context of current international complexities, where the preservation of multilateralism and international cooperation has become more paramount than ever before. I am confident that the parliamentarians of NAM countries have an evident role to play in promoting NAM principles.
In line with this, we believe the Parliamentary Network of NAM will help achieve wider awareness and development of the values of our Movement among the populations of NAM Member States. It will also provide significant input for parliamentarians when addressing issues of concern for Member States.
Our Network is expected to work hand in hand with the executive authorities of member states with the common goal of contributing to the advancement of the Movement’s ideals.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I seize this moment to express my deep gratitude to the parliaments of the Member States for their constructive engagement during the elaboration process of the draft outcome documents we plan to adopt today.
I strongly believe that thanks to their collective spirit and inputs, next generations will always remember this momentous Baku Conference where we, the parliamentarians of the Non-Aligned Movement, came together and took this very important first step towards the institutionalization of the Parliamentary Network of the 61-year old Movement, uniting two-thirds of the UN member states.
I would like to state that the Azerbaijani side has used all existing mechanisms and resources to make sure that the Parliamentary Network of NAM is built in a way that accommodates the interests of all Member States. In the meantime, I wish to emphasize that this is an ongoing process and I invite the parliaments of all NAM Member States to actively participate in the future evolution and development of this institutional structure.
Dear participants, in conclusion, while once again welcoming you all to Baku, I’d like to wish you successful deliberations and an enjoyable stay in Azerbaijan.
Thank you for your attention.
At the end of the opening ceremony, the "Baku Declaration" and “Statute on working modalities of the Non-Aligned Movement Parliamentary Network” were adopted, the official logo and flag of the organization were approved, and the Chairperson and Vice-Chairpersons of the organization were elected.
Ms. Sahiba Gafarova, Speaker of the Milli Majlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan, was elected as the Chairperson of the NAM PN. Mr. Ali Ahmed Faysal, Vice-President of the National Council of the State of Palestine (from the Asian group), Mr. Jorge Jesús Rodríguez Gómez, Speaker of the National Assembly of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (from the Latin American group), and Mr. Fawzi Al-Taher Al-Nouiri, the First Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives of the State of Libya (from the African group) were elected as Vice-Chairpersons of the NAM PN.
The conference continued after the break.