Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the Summit of NAM Contact Group on fight against COVID-1902 March 2023, 10:31
- Distinguished Heads of State and Government,
Distinguished Heads of Delegations,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I welcome you all in Baku at the Summit-level Meeting of the NAM Contact Group in response to COVID-19.
With a unanimous decision of NAM countries, in 2019, Azerbaijan assumed the chairmanship of NAM for the period of 2019-2022. Our chairmanship was also extended by a unanimous decision for one more year. We are grateful to the Member States for their support of Azerbaijan’s chairmanship.
As a chair of NAM, our aim is to defend justice and international law. Right after the beginning of the pandemic, it was NAM that took the initiative to mobilize global efforts to counter COVID-19.
We initiated the NAM Online Summit at the Heads of State and Government level in May 2020. The Summit decided to establish the Non-Aligned Movement Task Force to work out a database. The World Health Organization used this database as a reference point for identifying the needs of NAM Member States in addressing the pandemic.
At that Summit, I suggested convening the UN General Assembly Special Session at the leaders’ level. This proposal gained huge support among the UN Member States.
The Special Session was held in December 2020 and was addressed by over 70 heads of state and government. The Special Session emphasized the need for increased international solidarity and recognized NAM’s leadership in the fight against coronavirus.
We considered “vaccine nationalism” pursued by some wealthy countries, among others, as a serious impediment in countering the pandemic. Subsequently, NAM initiated two resolutions for equitable and universal access to vaccines for all countries adopted in the UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly in 2021.
NAM’s leadership in mobilizing global efforts to fight the pandemic once more demonstrated the Movement’s influence and responsibility.
Azerbaijan provided coronavirus-related financial and humanitarian support to more than 80 countries, most of those from our NAM family either through bilateral channels or World Health Organization.
Azerbaijan strongly supports the institutional development of the Movement. We initiated the establishment of the NAM Parliamentary Network. The first meeting of the NAM Parliamentary Network took place in Baku in June 2022.
Furthermore, the Shusha accords established the NAM Youth Organization in July 2022. The permanent secretariat of the NAM Youth Organization will be located in Baku.
Our goal is to create institutional sustainability and to leave a successful legacy to the members who will take over the chairmanship after Azerbaijan.
In 2021 during the High-Level Commemorative Meeting, which took place in Belgrade, I suggested the idea of the high-level meeting of the NAM Member States with the aim to formulate the position of the Movement concerning the post-COVID-19 era. With this in mind, I called this summit, which I believe will create an opportunity to discuss emerging global issues.
The international security architecture, which has existed for the last several decades, is currently facing dramatic changes, and multilateralism is at stake. The erosion of international law norms and principles further threatens the international order.
More cases of violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity and intervention in the internal affairs of states are observed. The decisions of the leading international organizations are not either implemented or the selective approach and double standards are being applied.
The new world order is in the process of reshaping. Now the world is witnessing the most serious East-West confrontation since the end of the Cold War, with repercussions for the remaining part of the world. As the second largest international institution after the UN, NAM should play a more visible and efficient role in the international arena and actively participate in reshaping the new world order.
Unfortunately, nowadays, we observe a rising tendency towards neo-colonialism. NAM, which came into existence due to the historical decolonization process, should unify its efforts toward completely eliminating this shameful page of mankind.
NAM always strongly supported the unquestionable sovereignty of the Union of Comoros over the island of Mayotte, which continues to be under the colonial rule of France. As reflected in fundamental NAM documents, we call on the French Government to respect the rights of the New Caledonian people and other peoples in French overseas communities and territories. The French-administered territories outside Europe are nasty remains of the French colonial empire. We also call on France to apologize and admit its responsibility for its colonial past and bloody colonial crimes and acts of genocide against NAM member countries in Africa, South-East Asia and other places.
Another important issue, which has been discussed worldwide for many years, is the UN system’s reforms. UN Security Council is reminiscent of the past and does not reflect the current reality. The composition of the Security Council should be expanded to make it more representative and more geographically fair.
One permanent seat should be given to the Non-Aligned Movement, and the country holding the position of chair of the Movement should have this seat on a rotating basis. I call on NAM member countries to start consultations on this issue and present their views to the relevant UN Committee.
We also support the allocation of permanent seats for Africa in the Security Council.
The pandemic had a negative impact on the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. The global efforts should be reinforced to prevent, inter alia, backsliding on targets and to catch up with the 2030 Agenda.
To this end, we suggested establishing a UN High-Level Panel on Global Recovery from COVID-19. This Panel could elaborate recommendations on global measures for the post-pandemic period. I invite all NAM members to support this initiative.
We should further strengthen the South-South cooperation guided by the principles of respect for sovereignty, national ownership, equality and mutual benefit. Its agenda is set by countries of the South themselves in line with their national needs and priorities, not imposed by the outside world.
Climate change is another challenge for humanity, causing serious problems such as water scarcity, food insecurity, and forced migration.
Small Island Developing States deserve more attention in this regard since they are more vulnerable to climate change’s impact and face an existential threat.
As was the case during the COVID-19 pandemic, Azerbaijan will continue to provide financial and humanitarian assistance to NAM countries in need. I declare two Global Calls to support the post-pandemic recovery of Africa and Small Island Developing States. It is my pleasure to announce that Azerbaijan, as the first donor, is allocating 1 million US dollars for both Global Calls. I believe that NAM members and other members of the international community will support Azerbaijan’s initiative and will follow us in supporting the countries in need on their path to post-pandemic recovery.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As I mentioned earlier, the UN Security Council is inefficient today. For example, some Security Council resolutions have been implemented within days. However, in the case of Azerbaijan, Armenia ignored the four Security Council's resolutions demanding immediate and unconditional withdrawal of its armed forces from the territories of Azerbaijan for almost 30 years.
In 2020 Azerbaijan itself restored its territorial integrity and historical justice by military-political means and enforced the Security Council resolutions' implementation. Probably, it was the first case in the world since the establishment of the UN.
During the years of occupation, hundreds of cities and villages in Azerbaijan were deliberately destroyed, and all cultural and religious sites were looted and plundered by Armenia. The liberated territories of Azerbaijan have been turned into a textbook example of urbicide, culturicide and ecocide. Since the end of 2020, thousands of foreign diplomats, journalists, NGOs and politicians, including from NAM countries, have visited the liberated territories and witnessed the barbarism committed by Armenia.
Azerbaijan conducts large-scale reconstruction work in the liberated territories with its own financial resources. The Government of Azerbaijan spent about 4 billion USD for reconstruction work in 2021-2022. This year, we plan to allocate at least 1,7 billion USD for this purpose. We are building new cities and villages from scratch by applying modern urban planning and utilizing the concepts of "smart city" and "smart village.” It is a unique and unprecedented post-conflict development and reconstruction model led by national governments.
Azerbaijan is among the most heavily mine-infested countries in the world due to the Armenian occupation. Some 300 Azerbaijanis have been killed or seriously injured in mine incidents since the end of the Second Karabakh War in November 2020.
Given the paramount importance of humanitarian demining for the country, Azerbaijan is currently considering setting a particular national Sustainable Development Goal. Azerbaijan sees a direct link between SDGs and demining since mines slow down the reconstruction process in the liberated territories and the return of former internally displaced persons. Azerbaijan actively promotes the initiative of launching the 18th SDG on demining. We invite NAM countries to support this initiative.
Since a number of NAM member countries are among the most contaminated countries by mines and unexploded ordnances, I would like to suggest forming a Like-Minded Group of Mine-Affected Countries to make our voice heard globally.
Shortly after the end of the conflict, Azerbaijan presented five basic principles for the peace agreement to Armenia based on the mutual recognition of each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Using this opportunity, I would like to thank NAM countries for their firm stance in supporting the just position of Azerbaijan and not allowing one-sided and biased anti-Azerbaijani statements to pass in the UN Security Council both in 2020 and 2022.
In conclusion, I assure you that Azerbaijan, as a chair of NAM, will spare no effort in further defending the legitimate interests of NAM Member States and increasing our Movement’s standing in the international arena.
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