Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the 13th Summit of Economic Cooperation Organization in Islamabad

01 march 2017, 09:00

Our relations, which are based on mutual trust and support, are successfully developing. As a sign of brotherhood and solidarity Pakistan has not established diplomatic relations with Armenia, which continues to occupy 20 per cent of our territories. The Azerbaijani people are very grateful to you for this.

Azerbaijan attaches great importance to the activity in the Economic Cooperation Organization. We have worked together with all the member countries to further strengthen the organization since our chairmanship started in 2012. Ensuring security and stability is the main element of building regional cooperation. Unfortunately, as new conflicts emerge security and stability in our region becomes even more fragile. We witness human catastrophe. Many people lose their lives, millions of people leave their native lands.

Azerbaijan is well aware of the pain and sufferings from its own experience. As a result of Armenia’s military aggression 20 per cent of historical Azerbaijani lands – Nagorno-Karabakh and its seven surrounding regions – is under occupation. Ethnic cleansing was carried out in those territories and more than one million Azerbaijanis became refugees and IDPs. All our historical monuments, mosques and cemeteries were destroyed in the lands occupied by Armenia. In 1992, Armenia committed genocide against Azerbaijan. Of 613 civilians murdered as a result of Khojaly genocide, 106 were women, 63 were children and 70 were the elderly. Over one thousand people went missing. More than 10 countries have already recognized Khojaly genocide. We thank Pakistan for its Senate`s officially recognizing Khojaly genocide in 2012.

UN Security Council adopted four resolutions on the conflict. Those resolutions demand unconditional and immediate withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces from the occupied lands. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation, OSCE, European Parliament, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Non-Aligned Movement and other respected international organizations adopted similar resolutions and decisions. A contact group at the level of ministers on Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was established at the last summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and finally in April of 2016 the contact group on Armenia’s aggression against Azerbaijan was created. Armenia must comply with those resolutions and must be subjected to sanctions. Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity must be restored.

Azerbaijan attaches special importance to solidarity among Muslim countries. Azerbaijan announced 2017 as the Year of Islamic Solidarity. In two months Baku will host the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games. Islamophobia is today one of the most serious threats in the world. We severely condemn this tendency. Associating Islam with terror is a false and prejudiced attitude. Muslim countries are suffering the most from this terror. We should continue promoting the values of Islam, which is the religion of peace, mercy, tolerance and justice.

We attach special importance to strengthening economic cooperation among member states. Increasing mutual trade and investments, expanding export potential and encouraging close cooperation among business circles will serve this aim. Involvement of international financial institutions is also of great importance. In this regard, to play a more active role in financing the projects of regional importance, the Trade and Development Bank of the Economic Cooperation Organization needs to be supported by all the member states.

Cooperation in the field of transport is of great importance to Azerbaijan. The establishment of a strategic railway line between Europe and Asia through Azerbaijan`s territory will reduce cargo transportation time from 30 days to 15 days. The East-West transport corridor means restoration of historical Silk Road. The North-South railroad corridor is another important transport corridor. Azerbaijan is an active participant and investor of both strategic projects. We invite Economic Cooperation Organization member states to use the opportunities of this new infrastructure. The biggest international sea port in the Caspian Sea that was constructed in Azerbaijan is another contribution to transport infrastructure.

Energy cooperation plays an important role in regional cooperation. Azerbaijan has proposed a new energy strategy and a new vision for energy cooperation. Azerbaijan has become an important partner in providing energy security in a broader region. We created the infrastructure of diversified pipelines by linking the Caspian Sea, Black Sea and the Mediterranean. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil and Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipelines are symbols of regional cooperation. Together with its partners our country is now realizing Southern Gas Corridor project that is worth 40 billion dollars. This is a project of energy cooperation and energy security. The transport and energy projects that I mentioned create tens of thousands of new jobs in the region. These projects bring prosperity. This strengthens cooperation and friendship among countries.

Thank you for your attention.