Governance

Ilham Aliyev attended the meeting of CIS’s councils of heads of state in Astana

A meeting of the CIS Heads of State Council has been held in Astana.

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev attended the meeting.

The heads of state and government attending the meeting posed together for a group photo.

First, a meeting of the CIS Heads of State Council in a limited format was held.

President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev declared the meeting open.

Chairman of the Executive Committee and Executive Secretary of CIS Sergey Lebedev highlighted the issues on the agenda.

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev made a speech at the meeting.

Speech by President Ilham Aliyev

– Thank you, dear Kassym-Jomart Kemelevich.

I would like to inform my colleagues about the situation that is developing in our region. Colleagues are well aware that during the period of occupation of the territory of Azerbaijan by Armenian armed forces, I never brought this topic up for discussion within the framework of the CIS because it was the OSCE Minsk Group that was dealing with the conflict settlement and had a mandate. Unfortunately, for 28 years the result of the Minsk Group was zero. As it is clear now, the main goal of this structure was not to resolve the conflict but to freeze it. Negotiating was only a cover for the conflict not to be resolved for many more years. Therefore, since the conflict has now been resolved and Azerbaijan has resolved it itself in accordance with international law and the UN Charter, including Article 51 of the UN Charter, which stipulates that every country has the right to self-defense, the conflict is considered to have been settled.

The post-conflict situation is developing differently. Therefore, I would like to inform my colleagues about what has been happening lately. In September, literally a month ago, clashes took place near the Azerbaijani-Armenian border. The reasons for those clashes are obvious. Terror against Azerbaijan continues – first of all, landmine and sniper terror. Since the Second Karabakh War, more than 250 Azerbaijani citizens have either died or been seriously maimed as a result of landmine explosions, which were mainly planted during the years of occupation. At the same time, we have discovered 1,400 anti-personnel mines made in Armenia, which were planted near the border with Lachin district in 2021. The roads leading from one Azerbaijani military position to another were also mined. The clashes, their active phase lasted a maximum of eight hours. Azerbaijan had no intention of occupying the territory of Armenia, as some may assume. Not a single city, not a single village was occupied. As a result of the mediation efforts of the Russian side, I would like to emphasize that it was the Russian side that came up with a ceasefire proposal – some attribute this to other countries, which is completely unfounded – as a result of the mediation efforts of the Russian side, the clashes, as I said, were stopped.

On 6 October, on the sidelines of a new platform of the European political community in Prague, a four-sided meeting was held with the participation of the President of France, the President of the European Council, the Prime Minister of Armenia and the President of Azerbaijan. At that meeting, as a result of many hours of negotiations, the decision was reached to send a civilian mission of the European Union in the amount of 40 people to the territory of Armenia near the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. Subsequently, we learned that their number would be 50. They will stay there for at least two months and the purpose of this mission, as we saw it and therefore agreed to, is to help the parties to draw the border and agree on issues related to delimitation. There was an attempt to send this mission to the Azerbaijani side, which was resolutely rejected by us. Therefore, the mission will be located on the territory of Armenia, in the zone of CSTO’s responsibility. The first group of European representatives arrived in Armenia yesterday in order to determine the location of this mission.

Unfortunately, despite the fact that Azerbaijan agreed to the four-sided meeting, including the participation of the President of France although France has nothing to do with the relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia – as a co-chair of the Minsk Group, France did have a mandate for mediation, but since the Karabakh conflict has been resolved and there is no need for the services of the Minsk Group, especially since this was rather a disservice, as I said, and the Minsk Group had done nothing at all, not a single centimeter of our territory was vacated – Azerbaijan showed goodwill nonetheless and allowed the French President to participate in this meeting. As for the participation of the President of the European Council, as you know, several trilateral meetings have already been held in Brussels and, in principle, we have always supported the efforts of the European Union towards the normalization of Azerbaijan-Armenia relations. Despite the goodwill shown by Azerbaijan, just a week after the meeting in Prague, the President of France made insulting, unacceptable, false and provocative statements. They are available in the media and everyone can see them. In these statements, he accused Azerbaijan of engaging in a horrific war, thereby manipulating the facts, trying to mislead the French and world public. Azerbaijan waged war on its internationally recognized territory. Karabakh is recognized by the whole world as a part of Azerbaijan. We exercised our right to self-defense and restored our territorial integrity by force. It was then stated that France would never abandon Armenia. This, as they say, is a matter of bilateral relations. Biased statements were also made against the Russian Federation, namely, that “Russia played the Azerbaijani game”. It is up to the French public to decide on how politically correct it is for the President of a great country to use the street lexicon. For our part, we categorically condemn and reject such statements and, given such an attitude of the French government, see no further possibility for France to play a role in the normalization of Azerbaijan-Armenia relations.

In addition, the French foreign minister has also made false anti-Azerbaijan statements. During the Second Karabakh War, the French Senate and the lower house of their parliament adopted resolutions recognizing the so-called Nagorno-Karabakh although it wasn’t recognized even by Armenia. We are aware that another anti-Azerbaijan resolution is being prepared in the French Senate in mid-November. Therefore, unfortunately, the current French leadership, unlike the previous ones – I had the opportunity to communicate quite closely with President Chirac, President Sarkozy and President Hollande, and our relations were quite balanced, quite friendly, and we always perceived the activities of previous French presidents, despite, of course, a certain factor of the Armenian diaspora in France, as balanced. However, the current French leadership has effectively crossed out all this. Therefore, I wanted to inform colleagues about this situation.

Further, the Embassy of Azerbaijan has been attacked twice in Paris. Moreover, after the first attack, the President of France, in a telephone conversation, promised to me that measures would be taken to prevent this from happening again. This turned out to be untrue, to put it mildly. The security guards that were installed in front of the Embassy of Azerbaijan after the first act of vandalism and an attempt to break into the Embassy building were removed. Most likely, this was agreed with the Armenian side. As soon as the security was removed, there was a second attempt to break through, there were insulting posters, crowds of raging radicals attacking the Embassy of Azerbaijan. This is categorically unacceptable and it is a violation of all diplomatic conventions.

I must say that Armenia has also organized provocations against the Embassy of Azerbaijan in Lebanon and against the Embassy of Azerbaijan in the United States. There is video footage of that, and the latest act of aggression and terror, using firearms, when a car of the Embassy of Azerbaijan in the United States was fired at. We call on the authorities of the United States, France, Lebanon and all other countries where there are Azerbaijan’s diplomatic missions that can be subjected to terror, to show responsibility and fulfill their international obligations. We have no doubts that the acts of terror and vandalism were organized by Armenia. Why am I saying this? Because in the 1990s, Armenian special services carried out 32 terrorist acts – explosions in the subway, buses, ferries and trains. As a result of those heinous terrorist acts, more than 2,000 Azerbaijani civilians were killed.

As for other aspects of the post-conflict situation, we are now actively engaged in the reconstruction of liberated territories. Everything there has been destroyed. The footage has been published and everyone can see it. On an area of 10,000 square kilometers, there is practically not a single building left, 65 out of 67 mosques have been destroyed. Footage of Muslim shrines being insulted, when pigs and cows were kept in mosques, is also available on the Internet. All this speaks of the extreme degree of hatred for the Azerbaijani people and the entire Muslim world. This is the only way to perceive it.

Another point I would like to draw your attention to is that a trilateral Declaration was adopted with the mediation of the Russian Federation in November 2020. Azerbaijan is fulfilling all the provisions of the Declaration, including ensuring unhindered access from Armenia to Karabakh. Armenia is not fulfilling its part of the Declaration. Namely, it does not provide unhindered access from the main part of Azerbaijan to the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, which is its legal obligation, and has not yet withdrawn the Armenian armed forces from Azerbaijani territory. We are still showing patience, but it is not unlimited. If these two important provisions of the trilateral Declaration of November 2020 are not implemented, we will be left with no other option but to act accordingly.

In conclusion, the fate of the Armenians of Karabakh. At the meeting in Prague, we also had an exchange of views on this issue. Our position is clear and precise. Karabakh is Azerbaijan. The rights and security of the Armenian population of Karabakh will be ensured in accordance with the Constitution of Azerbaijan. We are not going to discuss our internal issues with anyone. And as far as I understood from the results of the meeting in Prague, this topic did not cause any discrepancies among participants of the four-sided meeting.

Thank you for your attention. I considered it necessary to inform my colleagues about what happened, because there are different versions of what happened. I wanted you to hear our version, which is the only true one, from me. Thank you.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev: Thank you very much, esteemed Ilham Heydar oglu.

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Then the meeting of the CIS Heads of State Council continued in an expanded format.

Addressing the meeting, Chairman of the Executive Committee and Executive Secretary of CIS Sergey Lebedev noted that the Kyrgyz Republic will assume the chairmanship in the Organization in 2023.

President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev awarded Radik Batirshin, the Chairman of TV-Radio corporation “MIR” with a diploma of the CIS.

At the meeting, the post of executive secretary of the CIS was renamed as general secretary. Chairman of the Executive Committee and Executive Secretary of CIS Sergey Lebedev was elected as Secretary General.

The documents then were signed.

The meeting of CIS Heads of State Council in Astana concluded its work.