President Ilham Aliyev: Azerbaijan turns into irreplaceable country in inter-religious dialogue
An international conference, titled “2017 – Year of Islamic Solidarity: Interfaith and Intercultural Dialogue” was held at the Heydar Aliyev Center on December 21.
The international conference was attended by well-known state, religious and scientific figures from about 40 countries, heads and representatives of eight international organizations, special representatives of heads of various states, leaders of religious confessions, government, public and parliamentary members, representatives of the diplomatic corps.
President Aliyev attended the opening ceremony of the event that was organized by the Caucasus Muslims Office and the State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations of Azerbaijan, and is dedicated to the results of the Year of Islamic Solidarity, proclaimed by a presidential decree.
The President stated that Azerbaijan is turning into an irreplaceable country in the inter-religious intercultural dialogue. He stressed that the Azerbaijani people are very committed to their national and spiritual roots.
“The very national values form the foundation of the independent Azerbaijan state. Our national values are an integral part of universal values,” he said.
Major energy projects being implemented today - the $40-billion Southern Gas Corridor and other projects - will support the long-term, successful sustainable growth of Azerbaijan, said President Aliyev, underlining that Azerbaijan successfully develops, despite big and complex problems.
“We have turned into a very reliable partner in the international arena, a few years ago, we were elected a member of the UN Security Council by the votes of 155 countries. This was our great political victory, because then Azerbaijan was an independent country for only 20 years and during these years managed to gain recognition the international community,” he said.
President Aliyev went on to add that several economic reforms are being implemented in the country.
“Over the past 14 years, Azerbaijan has been developing more rapidly than others in the world from the point of view of economic development. Our economy, GDP grew by more than three-fold,” he said.
The head of state said that Azerbaijan also carries out a very serious social policy, as a result of which the level of unemployment and poverty is at the level of five percent, stressing that the society is positive about the future development of the country.
Azerbaijan, which has been living as an independent state for 26 years, stands strong, said the President.
“Of course, our main problem is the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. As you know, Armenia has been occupying 20 percent of our territories recognized by the international community for more than 20 years. More than one million citizens were expelled from these lands, became refugees and internally displaced persons,” said President Aliyev.
“An ethnic cleansing policy was conducted against our people. Armenians committed a bloody crime – the Khojaly genocide. Armenian gunmen killed more than 600 innocent peaceful people, including more than 100 women and 60 children. More than 10 countries have recognized the Khojaly massacre as an act of genocide,” he noted.
The head of state said that the United Nations adopted four resolutions on the conflict, and these resolutions clearly state that the Armenian armed forces should be withdrawn immediately and unconditionally from the occupied lands. However, these resolutions have remained on paper.
“Those who adopt these resolutions are indifferent to this issue, and Armenia, taking this opportunity, continues its occupation policy. All the buildings were destroyed in our occupied lands. Our historical, religious monuments, mosques were destroyed by Armenians. The photos of these destroyed mosques were posted enough on the Internet, and everyone can see them. The entire infrastructure was destroyed. The OSCE have sent two fact-finding missions to the occupied lands. Those missions faced the scene that I am talking about and included this in their reports,” said Ilham Aliyev.
He noted that the position of Azerbaijani state on the conflict is fully based on international law.
“First of all, Nagorno-Karabakh is Azerbaijan’s ancient, historical land, and on other hand, it is an integral part of Azerbaijan in terms of international law. The entire world knows Nagorno-Karabakh as Azerbaijan’s integral part. In this case, the conflict must be resolved solely on the basis of norms and principles of international law,” he said.
“The UN Security Council resolutions – there are no other superior documents than these documents in the world – must be fully implemented and the territorial integrity of our country must be restored. The Azerbaijani state and the Azerbaijani people will never allow the establishment of second Armenian state on its land,” added President Aliyev.
Speaking about self-determination of peoples, the head of state said that this issue can be resolved within the framework of territorial integrity of countries.
“As I noted, many countries in the world are multinational and multi-religious. The Armenian people decided on its self-determination and they have a state. Azerbaijan will never allow the second Armenian state to be established on historical Azerbaijani lands. This, in fact, is a very harmful, dangerous and illogical logic. Armenians live in many countries. If they would desire to enforce their self-determination in all countries of their residence as in Azerbaijan, and resort to aggressive separatism, then we will see what will be the policies of those countries,” added President Aliyev.
“Today’s processes in the world support and strengthen our position. As I noted, our position is strong enough in terms of international law, history and potential. However, Europe also faces separatism today. Look, which steps are taken in European countries against separatism?! Our problem is aggressive separatism. The Armenian gunmen committed genocide, occupied our lands by force, expelled innocent people from these lands, and are engaged in illegal activities on these lands today,” noted the head of state.
“I am absolutely convinced that Azerbaijan will restore its territorial integrity,” said President Aliyev. “There are all opportunities for this, and recent events – the events of the past year show that once again.”
During the conference, congratulatory messages from the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Holy See (Vatican), Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, and Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II were read out.
Addressing the international conference participants on behalf of world Muslims, ISESCO Director General Abdulaziz Altwaijri emphasized Azerbaijan’s growing role in ensuring the strengthening of the Islamic solidarity and interreligious and intercultural dialogue.
Chairman of the Caucasus Muslims Office, co-chair of the CIS Interreligious Council Sheikhulislam Allahshukur Pashazade highlighted the international events jointly organized by the Caucasus Muslims Office and the State Committee on Work with Religious Organizations in a number of countries as part of the “Year of Islamic Solidarity”.
In early January, President Aliyev signed an order on declaration of year of 2017 a Year of Islamic Solidarity, aiming to provide the strengthening of Azerbaijan’s unique position in re-establishment of the Islamic solidarity.
Azerbaijan was one of the main centers of Islamic Civilization for many centuries. The country played an important role in spreading out religion of Islam and re-establishing the Islamic Renaissance. All of these created conditions for formalizing the material and non-material heritage of religion of Islam.
By being elected as the member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, ISESCO, as well as other prestigious organizations Azerbaijan established mutually fruitful relations with the Muslim world.
Azerbaijan also acted as an organizer of the several important global cultural forums. The country also gave great contributions to forming the tolerant environment, establishment of the multiculturalism and inter-cultural, inter-civilizational dialogue and popularization of the Islamic values in the world. Holding the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games in Baku in 2017 creates fruitful condition for taking other steps for strengthening the Islamic solidarity of the country.
President Aliyev delivered speech at an international conference, titled "2017 - Year of Islamic Solidaity: Interfaith and Intercultural Dialogue"