08 june 2016, 13:15
Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the reception of the heads of diplomatic missions and international organizations of Muslim countries in Azerbaijan on the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan
- Dear Ambassadors,
I sincerely congratulate you on the start of the holy month of Ramadan. Our meetings in the month of Ramadan have become a wonderful tradition.
I am glad that the number of embassies of Muslim countries in Azerbaijan is growing. It testifies to our friendship and solidarity. Please convey my greetings on the occasion of the beginning of the month of Ramadan to the heads of states and governments of your respective countries.
Azerbaijan has very close ties with the countries you represent. We successfully cooperate in the bilateral and multilateral formats. I am confident that this cooperation will become even deeper in the coming years. Cooperation with Muslim countries is one of the priorities of our foreign policy. I emphasized this while talking about foreign policy priorities at the official reception dedicated to the Republic Day. At the same time, we successfully cooperate and always support each other in international organizations. Whenever issues related to Azerbaijan are discussed in the UN, we feel the support of Muslim countries. For our part, we always support Muslim countries in the United Nations. During the summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul in April, we demonstrated this solidarity once again. As you know, the summit adopted a very serious document related to the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. It condemned the Armenian provocation against Azerbaijan committed in April and established a contact group in connection with the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. We appreciate these steps and are grateful to Muslim countries for that.
As you know, the unresolved status of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict poses a major threat to the region. We have been subjected to an injustice. About 20 per cent of our land is under occupation. More than a million refugees and displaced persons are suffering from this conflict. Armenia has conducted a policy of ethnic cleansing against us and committed the Khojaly genocide. The Armenians have destroyed all our historical and religious monuments on the occupied lands. Most of our mosques have been destroyed, while the remaining dilapidated mosque buildings serve as military headquarters. Foreign journalists have recently reported on that and published photographs. At the same time, the leadership of Armenia, while in European countries, constantly spreads distorted information about the conflict and tries to portray it in religious colors. The leadership of Armenia notes that the country has a complex geographical location, is surrounded by three Muslim countries and defends Christian values. This is a huge hypocrisy. As people living in Azerbaijan, you are well aware that Azerbaijan has never had any conflict or misunderstanding on religious or ethnic grounds. Azerbaijan, along with mosques, builds churches and synagogues. The Armenian church remains intact in the center of the city. More than that, the Azerbaijani state has allocated funds to repair the church. Therefore, such cheap and unworthy speeches of the Armenian president and others, I want to say again, are clearly a manifestation of hypocrisy. This shows once again that the Armenian leadership sees Muslim countries as enemies. Otherwise, it would not have made such absurd statements. At the same time, in order to disguise its dirty intentions, it is making attempts on the international scene to establish close relations with Muslim countries. I am confident that the leadership and the public of Muslim countries are sufficiently informed about the fact that Armenia has destroyed Islamic monuments, desecrated our mosques and is trying to keep Azerbaijani lands under occupation.
In short, the entire Muslim world should demonstrate unity and solidarity in connection with the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, as it does in all other matters. Azerbaijan has made great efforts and taken serious steps to strengthen Muslim solidarity. Azerbaijan is waging a serious fight against Islamophobia which is lifting its head in different countries. At different levels, at the highest possible levels, we openly express our position on the matter, condemn Islamophobia and lead by example. Islamophobia is a threat both to Muslim countries and to those who condone this foul trend. It further exacerbates confrontation and increases mutual distrust. Representatives of all religions live in Azerbaijan in peace like one family. We live in brotherhood and friendship. We demonstrate that multicultural values live on and must live on. As you know, the current year has been declared a "Year of multiculturalism" in Azerbaijan. The results of the UN Global Alliance of Civilizations held in Azerbaijan this year show once again that Azerbaijan has made great strides in this direction.
Last year, the First European Games were held in Baku, while next year Baku will host Islamic Solidarity Games. I am confident that Islamic Solidarity Games will remain in history not only as a sporting event. We want the Islamic Solidarity Games to be held next year to demonstrated to the whole planet that Islamic world calls for unity, peace and stability. At the same time, I am sure that these Games will be a manifestation of Islamic culture.
A year after the Games of Solidarity, in 2018, the ancient Azerbaijani city of Nakhchivan will be declared the capital of Islamic culture. Several years ago, this honorary title was awarded to Baku. And now this honorable mission will be carried by Nakhchivan.
In short, I want to note once again that we in Azerbaijan are committed to further strengthening the unity among Islamic countries. We will continue efforts in this direction.
Once again, I welcome you and wish you success in your activity. Thank you.
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