H.E. Dr. VILAYAT GULIYEV
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan
at the General Debates of the 57th session of the United Nations General Assembly
15 SEPTEMBER 2002, NEW YORK
Allow me first of all to congratulate His Excellency Mr. Jan Kavan on his assumption of the Presidency of the fifty-seventh session of the General Assembly and to express gratitude to Mr. Han Seung-Soo Khan for his activity on the post of the President of the 56th session of the General Assembly.
I am pleased to congratulate Switzerland on becoming a UN Member State.
Nowadays the United Nations, called upon to play leading role in ensuring international
peace and security, is passing through a serious examination of its ability
to unify efforts of Member States and organize efficient international cooperation
in confronting the threats and risks, which acquired global dimension.
The tragic events occurred in New York a year ago made all of us to look at the world in a new way and to realize the global interdependence of the challenges of the new era.
We have to recognize that the world itself has grown up the monster of terrorism by ignoring problems, turning a blind eye to the violations of the norms of international law, tolerating aggression, not responding to threats caused by the illegal actions of some states, separatism, proliferation of weapons. It is necessary to learn lessons from the mistakes made and to launch broad offensive against terrorism on the basis of common approaches.
Respect for universal approach, excluding inconsistency, selectiveness and double standards is an indispensable condition of the world consolidation in confronting the terrorism. The legal basis of such approach has to be laid down in the Comprehensive Convention on Fight against Terrorism. Any political, social, ideological, religious and other reasons cannot justify any acts, methods and practices of terrorism. Mission of effective counter-action against terrorism and its total eradication demands use of the most broad, complex approach, which takes into consideration various aspects of problem and its root causes.
It is obvious that the terrorist groups recruit new members and flourish most easily in the environment characterized by economic and social degradation, armed conflicts, poverty, illiteracy and self-isolation. Necessary resources should be mobilized to open up new and expand the existing programs of assistance to the developing and less developed countries. The implementation of the UN decisions regarding the assistance for the sustainable development and revival of the economic growth in these countries does play a great role. We need to take a special note of the rendering urgent international assistance to Afghanistan.
Avoidance of inter-civilization frictions, creation of the spirit of mutual
respect between religions and cultures is another important aspect of the problem
of eradication of terrorism. Supporting a trend towards continuing and deepening
of the dialogue between civilizations, we stress its multi-profile meaning.
We think that realization of programs in the fields of education, information
and cultural dialogue between the civilizations will facilitate formation of
relations of mutual understanding and trust, which are of a great need for solution
of common problems that the West and East face. In this context I would like
to particularly stress the importance of international conference initiated
by Azerbaijan on the Role of Religion in contemporary democratic society: search
for the ways of struggle against terrorism and extremism, to be held in cooperation
with the OSCE on 10-11 October 2002 in Baky.
The priority in combating the international terrorism should be given to such manifestations of it as militant nationalism and aggressive separatism. Very often terrorist groups of separatists and nationalists of various kinds maintain close ties between each other and are directly sponsored by states. Fight against terrorism constitutes an extremely complicated problem in the so-called uncontrolled territories, having emerged as a result of armed separatism and foreign aggression.
It is for ten years now that such uncontrolled zone exists in the territory of Azerbaijan occupied by Armenia. Elevating the ideology of aggressive nationalism, terrorism and territorial claims to neighbors to the rank of its state policy, Republic of Armenia through the direct interference into the internal affairs of Azerbaijan formed the armed separatist terrorist grouping within the Nagorno-Karabakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan. This was followed with open armed aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan. Having conducted ethnic cleansing against Azerbaijani population in its own territory in 1987-1988, Armenia in 1992-1993 occupied not only the whole territory of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, expelling 60 000 native Azerbaijani population, but has also occupied territories of another 7 regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan, thus bringing the total number of Azerbaijani refugee population to one million. Now Armenia intends to consolidate the results of its aggression and ethnic cleansing, to tear away the Nagorno-Karabakh region from Azerbaijan.
Armenia tries to camouflage its annexationist policy by appeals to the principle of the right of peoples to self-determination. However, according to the international law this principle can only be realized in a peaceful way and in accordance with the principle of territorial integrity. The right to self-determination does not imply unilateral right of secession and should not lead to the disintegration of sovereign and independent state. Along with that, Armenians residing in Nagorno-Karabakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan by no means can be regarded as independent subject of the right to self-determination.
The assertion of Armenian side that the Nagorno-Karabakh region has never belonged to Azerbaijan is equally groundless as its reference to the international law. Leaving aside the fact that appeals to history in the settlement of interstate conflicts are faulty, extremely dangerous and doubt the universality of the norms of the international law, it has to be noted that these statements are refuted by numerous historical official documents. Often referring to the League of Nations to justify its territorial claims Armenia has to remember that in its official documents the League of Nations doubted existence of stable government, capable to represent Armenia and, what is most important, certified lack of Armenia's clearly defined borders.
The decisions of Armenia's Parliament on reunification of the Nagorno-Karabakh region with Armenia and on non-recognition of any international document which mentions this region as an integral part of Azerbaijan are illegal. Likewise, the decisions taken by the illegal separatist regime in the NagornoKarabakh region, so-called referendums and elections held by it in the situation of war and violent expulsion of the whole Azerbaijani population cannot have any international legal effect.
On the other side Armenia itself has violated the right of Azerbaijani people to self-determination. In accordance with the universally recognized international legal doctrine uti possidetis juris former union republics are recognized as new independent states within borders previously existing within the federations. These were the exact borders within which the UN recognized Azerbaijan in March 1992 and accepted it to this universal organization as a full-fledged member.
In 1993 the UN Security Council adopted resolutions 822, 853, 874 and 884 on Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. These resolutions were adopted after every new stage of Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan. The Council unambiguously supported sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan, confirmed its recognition of the Nagorno-Karabakh as an integral part of the Republic of Azerbaijan and resolutely demanded immediate, full and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian forces form the occupied territories of Azerbaijan and creation of conditions for the return of refugees and displaced persons. However, these demands of the Security Council have not been implemented so far. I would like to mention that those resolutions also contained the request to the UN Secretary General, the OSCE Chairman-in-Office and the Chairman of the Minsk Group, implementing the mandate for the settlement of Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, to submit reports on the situation in the region to the Security Council. The last decision stressed request to inform on the process of implementation of all four resolutions. Regrettably, this request still remains on paper. Such state of affairs cannot be convenient for us; it does lead to the "discharging" of the settlement process and eventually, to freezing the situation on a dangerous point of fait accompli of the occupation. Non-implementation of the Security Council resolutions undermines its authority and people's belief in justice and possibility of peaceful political settlement.
As it is well known, in the annually resumed resolution of the UN General Assembly on the cooperation with the OSCE, "The United Nations expresses its support for the efforts of this regional organization and its Minsk Group, which mediates the settlement of the conflict in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan". How can we evaluate these efforts being undertaken for a decade long period since the establishment of the Minsk Group at the CSCE Ministerial Council held in Helsinki in March 1992? If at the early stages of the mediation the Minsk Group was putting forward proposals on the elimination of the consequences of the conflict, at present its activities can be characterized as upholding a "wait and see" policy against the background of the negotiations, until the moment when the victim party accepts the conditions of the aggressor. Such position of the mediators cannot be regarded otherwise, but only as a passive support for the fait accompli policy conducted by Armenia, which is unacceptable for us.
Continuing to hold on its commitment for peaceful settlement of the conflict and interaction with the OSCE and its Minsk Group, Azerbaijan sees an urgent necessity for a new, resolute intervention by the UN Security Council which so far has not used its potential to effectively contribute to the settlement of Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.
The current situation is explosive. Yes, the cease-fire is being observed for eight years already, mediation activity is being maintained, but real peaceful settlement of the conflict does not occur. Armenia has occupied the territories of Azerbaijan and by conducting negotiations from the position of force, against the background of appeasement by the mediators, is trying to tear away the part of Azerbaijan, without even making an effort to disguise its annexationist intentions.
Azerbaijan will never agree with the legalization of territorial seizures.
Azerbaijan will never accept the loss of a single inch of its territory
and preserves its right to undertake all the necessary measures stipulated
by the UN Charter to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
We call upon the UN Security Council to review the existing situation, to make Armenia to immediately withdraw its armed forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan and to engage in negotiation on defining the status of the Nagorno-Karabakh region within Azerbaijan on the basis of norms and principles of international law.
We call upon the Republic of Armenia to heed the voice of reason and abandon the pernicious policy of territorial claims towards Azerbaijan. The continuation of the occupation of Azerbaijani lands and confrontation with Azerbaijan will yield for Armenian people nothing but misfortunes and sufferings.
The conflict does not only substantially undermine security in the South Caucasus region but does also constitute a major obstacle for establishing bilateral and regional cooperation. This cooperation would have provided benefits for all states in the region and played a crucial role in strengthening their positions and prestige at the international arena. Making use of its natural resources and favorable geographic location Azerbaijan contributes immensely to the development of the South Caucasus region and in fact plays a role of an engine in its integration into the world system. According to the last-year EUROSTAT data, 52% of the gross product of the countries in the South Caucasus was produced in Azerbaijan. A significant event going far beyond the South Caucasus borders will take place three days later - namely, the ground-breaking ceremony of the Baky-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, construction of which will give rise to the vast investment flow into the economics of the countries. Armenia by its actions against Azerbaijan has isolated itself from the participation in this kind of projects. Yes, at every level Armenia declares its willingness to cooperate with Azerbaijan. But in Armenia's understanding, Azerbaijan must turn a blind eye to occupation of its territories and establish economic relations with Armenia. I think you will agree that hardly anyone could accept this suggestion which in fact means the appeasement of the aggressor.
Seeking the ways out of the present situation and unblock the process of the
conflict resolution Azerbaijan, demonstrating a constructive approach, has proposed
Armenia to withdraw the Armenian forces from the four occupied districts and,
consequently, to restore main-line railway interlinking Azerbaijan, Armenia
and other countries of the region. Being realized as a gesture of good will,
this unique package of measures for the partial elimination of the consequences
of the conflict and revitalization of cooperation would significantly improve
the environment of negotiations and public opinion in both countries. This proposal
of Azerbaijan promising benefits for both parties in the conflict and other
countries of the region enjoyed the widest support at the OSCE and its Minsk
Group, the European Union and the Council of Europe. However, when it came to
practical step, Armenia, diligently demonstrating its commitment to peace and
cooperation, rejected this step towards confidence.
The situation of "no peace, no war" in Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict is a time-bomb and despair of people, first and foremost of refugees and IDPs, violently deprived of their homes and left to bear the most heavy burden of the consequences of the aggression, losing patience and hope for the restoration of their legal rights. As a result of Armenia's aggressive actions Azerbaijan currently gives shelter to more than on million refugees and IDPs. In the years passed great work on solving the refugees' problems has been carried out thanks to assistance by international humanitarian organizations, the UNHCR first of all. At the same time, a dangerous tendency of decline in the volume of humanitarian aid by the international organizations and intention of some agencies to reduce their activities because of the continuing lack of progress on the conflict resolution, while the humanitarian situation in Azerbaijan remains hard, is of a great concern. At present, we feel an urgent necessity in a specific assistance to provide medical institutions with necessary medical preparations and equipment, for implementation of agricultural programmes, jobs creation and development of small-scale entrepreneurship. We call upon the UNHCR, other international institutions and donor-states to respond to our problems and mobilize resources for facilitating their solution in the required scale.
Let me briefly touch upon the issue of the UN reform aimed at increasing the
effectiveness and practical results from the Organization's activities. We have
to determine on a number of possible reforms among which the expanding of the
Security Council should be particularly mentioned. I would like to express hope
that a maximal broad consensus on every aspect of this issue will be reached.
Greater balance within the Council could have been provided with inclusion in
its composition of influential developing countries along with the developed
ones. Increase of representation within one of the UN leading bodies, - within
rational scopes, - would have met the realities of time and consideration of
broader interests in solution of crucial issues of maintaining international
peace and security. With regard to the reforming we would wish more democracy,
action and compatibility with the challenges of changes.
I would like to believe that the reforms will enable the UN to confirm its role as a universal organization capable to maintain international peace and security, to prevent and resolve regional conflicts, to confront the global threats and risks under new conditions of globalization.