Azerbaijan’s foreign policy head has drawn Europe’s attention to the occupation of Azerbaijan’s territories by Armenia as well as Armenia’s ethnic cleansing policy towards Azerbaijan.
One of the oldest unresolved or protracted conflicts in the region remains the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which notoriously ended with the occupation of 20 percent of Azerbaijani lands and one million refugees and IDPs, said Elmar Mammadyarov.
He made the remarks during the 125th Session of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in Brussels, Belgium on May 19.
Mammadyarov said the Armenian government must realize that its reliance on the status-quo achieved as a result of its military aggression by way of arms is a grave miscalculation.
Occupation of the Azerbaijani territory and the ethnic cleansing of local populations do not represent a solution and will never produce any positive political outcome for Armenia, Mammadyarov added.
Armenia occupied over 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions, after laying territorial claims against its South Caucasus neighbor. This led to a brutal war in the early 1990s that resulted in the killing of over 20,000 Azerbaijanis. 4,866 people went missing and over 100,000 were wounded, while 50,000 were made disabled.
Mammadyarov said the withdrawal of Armenia’s troops, as clearly required by relevant UN Security Council Resolutions (1993), can be a significant confidence building measure and would completely change the dynamic of the ongoing peace process.
The UN Security Council has adopted four resolutions on Armenia’s withdrawal from the Azerbaijani territory, but they have not been enforced to this day.
He added that it will open up immense opportunities for a comprehensive and sustainable development of the entire South Caucasus region.
It was with interest that we got acquainted with the Secretary-General’s second report on “State of democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Europe” which presents a comprehensive overview of the existing situation, with a special focus on concrete recommendations as to the ways of addressing the outstanding issues, Mammadyarov said.
The minister also expressed his belief that democratic security is the ability of democratic societies to avoid conflict and instability by fostering tolerance based on shared values.
Mammadyarov further noted that given rising intolerance in Europe, the fight against violent extremism and radicalization leading to terrorism deserves to be high on the agenda of many European countries.
Azerbaijan, being one of the thirty two member states having signed and ratified the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism, supported the adoption of the declaration on combating extremism and radicalization leading to terrorism at our Ministerial, he added.
Mammadyarov went on to note that the fight against terrorism and extremism should not be used to target any particular religion or culture.
Today, we are living in a time of heightened religious awareness, which is maliciously exploited in certain instances to fuel conflicts on ethnic, religious or cultural grounds. In recent years, alarming rise of Islamophobia in some European countries confirms the vital necessity of our joint efforts to counter this phenomenon, the minister said.
He also added that that terrorism in many instances is inseparably linked to aggressive separatism. Areas affected by armed conflicts provide favorable conditions conducive to the expansion of this evil.
He urged the international community to facilitate the resolution of conflicts on the basis of the generally accepted norms and principles of international law, particularly those relating to respect for territorial integrity and inviolability of the internationally recognized borders of states.
Mammadyarov also called on global community to help countries restore sovereignty and security over their own territories. The Council of Europe also has an important role to play in this respect, he added.