After completion of negotiations in an expanded format, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and President of the State of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas made statements for the press.
Statement by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev
- Dear Mr. President,
Dear guests, ladies and gentlemen.
Mr. President, first of all, I would like to warmly welcome you to Azerbaijan. Welcome to our country! Your visit is of historic nature. The President of the State of Palestine has come to Azerbaijan on an official visit for the first time. I would like to thank you for accepting my invitation to come to Azerbaijan. Your visit is of tremendous importance.
Our relations are developing. The relations between our peoples have a long history. Our peoples have treated each other with great respect for centuries. At the current stage in our relations, there are very good opportunities for the development of bilateral ties. We want our relations to develop in all the spheres and to see this development in every direction.
Our political relations are at a very high level. Your visit to Azerbaijan is vivid evidence of that. The Embassy of the State of Palestine started operated in Azerbaijan a few months ago. And this is a very important event. I am sure that the activity of the Embassy will open up new opportunities for the development of bilateral relations.
We would very much like to cooperate in the economic sphere too, and I am sure that this issue will be reviewed during the visit. I believe that specific suggestions regarding the deepening of economic cooperation and organization of investment will be made during the visit.
There are good opportunities for cooperation in the humanitarian sphere. We could certainly think about new forms of the traditional relations in the sphere of culture. In other words, I think we will discuss all directions of bilateral relations during your visit and achieve good results.
At the same time, we have exchanged views on regional issues and global processes today. We have had a very broad exchange on the current stage in the talks on resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. I would like to reiterate that Azerbaijan supports the State of Palestine in all international organizations. Azerbaijan always stands by Palestine during discussions within the framework of the Organization of Islamic Conference, the United Nations, and this will always be the case. We think that the independent and sovereign State of Palestine should be established soon with the capital in Eastern Jerusalem. This is our position which we are and will be defending in all international organizations. On the one hand, this is our fraternal duty and, on the other, this position is based on international law. The international support for the State of Palestine and the fact that this support is growing are evidence that your diplomacy, political initiatives and your personal activities enjoy great respect internationally.
At the same time, we have exchanged views on regional developments today. I have informed you of the latest stage in the talks on the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territorial integrity has been breached for many years. We have more than a million refugees and IDPs. Twenty per cent of our territory is under occupation. Azerbaijanis have been subjected to a policy of ethnic cleansing in their native lands. All the buildings on occupied territories have been destroyed. Schools, hospitals, museums, historical monuments, religious shrines have been destroyed by the Armenians.
The international world supports our position. The UN Security Council has passed four resolutions on the issue. The resolutions say that Armenia’s occupying forces should unconditionally withdraw from occupied territories. Unfortunately, Armenia has been flouting these resolutions to this day. The Organization of Islamic Conference, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, the OSCE have passed similar resolutions.
Thus, there are sufficient legal grounds for resolving the issue. I am sure that Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity will be restored. We want this to happen soon and in a peaceful manner.
Mr. President, let me welcome you to Azerbaijan again. I would like to repeat that we are attaching great importance to this visit. It will go down in the history of our relations as the first visit. But of course, there must be more visits in the future – both at the level of ministers and business entities which should work more closely with each other. I am sure we will meet with you again.
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Statement by President of the State of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas
- Thank you very much, President Ilham Aliyev! Thank you!
Let me express my gratitude to you for inviting me to visit this fraternal country.
I want to thank your government, people and country for the support in resolving the Palestinian problem, for Palestine’s efforts to become independent and free, and establish an independent state with the capital in the sacred Jerusalem which we regard as one of the three Islamic sanctities. First is Jerusalem, second is Medina and third is Mecca.
Mr. President! We are currently establishing relations with your government. We are in the early stages of cooperation in all the spheres. I do hope that we can see your assistance in the development of these relations in the future.
Mr. President, I want to express my gratitude for helping us and for providing a building for the Embassy of Palestine. I also want to thank you for providing a residential building for the Ambassador and for providing him with necessary support. We and our people appreciate that.
We are proud of the Republic of Azerbaijan. We know that the first democratic republic was established here in 1918. This means that you are considered mature in terms of democracy, you can teach democracy to others. This is a great thing. We also know that Azerbaijani women have had the right to vote since 1918. You are moving along the path of democracy. There is a lot in common between us. We are also moving towards democracy. Our women can also vote, elect and be elected. They have their rightful place everywhere, including the municipalities. Our goal is to ensure a gender equality. To a certain extent, we are learning women equality issues from your experience.
Mr. President and I have discussed the Palestine issue. This is a political matter. During the talks with Mr. President, I assured him that our first, second and third options are peaceful, they all pass through peaceful negotiations. We are saying that all the paths lead to peace. The world agrees with us on that. If the government of Israel returns to the 1967 borders at the international level, we are ready to negotiate with them to achieve peace. But, unfortunately, we could not do that. Therefore, we suggested raising the issue with the UN. Let them tell us what people who have been living under occupation for more than 63 years should do! We want independence at a minimum. We are working on that. If we do not succeed, then we will turn to the UN.
At the same time, we also have domestic problems. But we are working on them. With the help of Allah, we have signed a document of national unity, have taken some steps. Through this national unity we now aim to create the Palestinian government. With the help of Allah, we will achieve our goals in the near future.
There are common problems between us. Azerbaijan and Palestine have similar problems. Your lands are also under occupation. Both our countries have refugees. There are four well-known UN resolutions relating to you – Resolutions No. 822, 853, 874 and 884. All four UN resolutions call for peace. There are over 15 UN resolutions regarding us. These resolutions also call for peace. But we are patiently waiting for these issues to be resolved peacefully so that we could reap the benefits of peace.
We followed the recent meeting in Kazan. We watched the position of Russia, France and the USA in addressing this problem. And this is an indication of the world’s interest in resolving the problem. But we are saying that it is better to resolve these problems today than tomorrow. Because no-one can guarantee that they will be resolved tomorrow. We want the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the refugee problem to be resolved. We do not require anything extra from international law. We have common problems. We want them to be resolved. We want peace to be established on these lands so that world peoples could live in peace and calm.
Thank you for your hospitality. We do hope that Mr. President can visit Palestine at his convenience. We look forward to more frequent visits.
Thank you for your attention.