H.E. Mr. Ilham Aliyev
Prime Minister of the Republic of Azerbaijan

the General Debate of the 58th session
of the General Assembly
September 24, 2003

United Nations
New York


Dear Mr. President,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all, allow me to congratulate Mr. Julian Robert Hunte on his election to the post of the President of the Fifty-eighth session of the United Nations General Assembly and to express gratitude to Mr. Jan Kavan for his activity as the President of the Fifty-seventh session.

Mr. President,

This year has been a hard ordeal for the United Nations. The events around Iraq have revealed weak chains in the system of the international security. It was not for the first time when the UN Security Council, due to disagreements among its members, was unable to ensure implementation of its resolutions and to adequately react to the situation.

These disagreements continue to exert critical influence on the activity of the Security Council with regard to both Iraq and other crises and conflicts. It is clear that existing UN mechanisms do not meet the requirements of our time and it is necessary to reform the United Nations, including the Security Council, which reflects the half-century old reality.

Azerbaijan supports the well-known reform proposals of Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in particular on the enlargement of the Security Council's membership, and counts on the good will of the permanent members of the Council with regard t o t he revision o fits mechanisms, particularly, the right of veto.

We hope that the international community will now be able to consolidate its efforts to restore and strengthen united and indivisible Iraq, and to establish democracy based on the free will of the whole Iraqi people. Being ready to take part in this process, our country has begun to contribute to the strengthening of security and stability in Iraq.

Mr. President,

The terrorist act against the UN Headquarters in Baghdad shocked the entire international community. The death of Sergio de Mello and his colleagues is a tragic loss for the Organization and to all of us. What happened in Baghdad once again showed how vulnerable w e a re in the face of terror and convinced u s t hat terrorists a re capable o f committing any crime.

The only response here should be the uncompromising fight against anyone who resorts to terrorism no matter what goals are used as a cover. Selectivity and double standards have no place in this fight. Such an approach should constitute the consolidated basis of our actions and of the anti-terror conventions under elaboration.

In the circumstances of the increased threat of terrorists' access to nuclear materials and technology, non-proliferation issues acquire special significance. Azerbaijan, being itself located in the region with increased nuclear threat, is particularly sensitive to this issue.

Our country, which has fallen victim of aggression, occupation and terror unleashed by Armenia, has been for years fighting terrorism on its own. Our appeals to the international community to unite efforts in combating terrorism went unheeded. The alarm went off only after September 11, 2001.

The success in the fight against terrorism can not be achieved without eradicating its underlying roots and eliminating factors creating favorable environment for its dissemination. On the other hand, it is not possible to resolve conflicts throughout the world, including in the South Caucasus, under conditions of the continuing practice of terrorism and support for it on the state level.

We have to keep in mind that terrorist groups, created and developed by separatist and extremist forces, usually are based on the illegally controlled territories, in the so-called "grey zones" that emerge as a result of acts of armed separatism and external aggression. Moreover, large terrorist structures with spread networks ensure corporate interaction among various groups of different ethnic and religious affiliation. Unfortunately, as we can witness, unlike governments, terrorists cooperate quite effectively at the global level.

While carrying out the comprehensive struggle against terror and resolving conflicts on the basis of principles and norms of international law the international community should decisively resort to force. This is the only effective way of restoring justice and ensuring the rule of law.

Mr. President,

Delegation of Azerbaijan has repeatedly drawn the attention of the international community from this high rostrum to the ongoing conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Ten years have elapsed since the Security Council adopted four resolutions, demanding the immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of the Armenian occupying forces from the Azerbaijani territories.

However, Armenia continues to challenge the international community by ignoring these decisions, whereas the UN Security Council and the Minsk Group of the OSCE do not undertake any adequate measures in this regard.

Azerbaijan has on many occasions declared its commitment to the peaceful settlement of the conflict on the basis of norms and principles of international law. We are determined to continue with our efforts in this direction and we count on the active participation on the part of the international community. Azerbaijan will never accept a settlement on the basis of the so-called "existing realities" and will not cede a single inch of its land. Azerbaijan's patience is not limitless and no one should try to take advantage of it. Responsibility for the deadlock in the settlement lies with the aggressor Armenia and not
with the victim of aggression Azerbaijan. The passive position of an observer taken by the international community can only aggravate this deadlock.

Only after Armenia evacuates all the Azerbaijani territories and thus creates a basis for the peaceful settlement of the conflict can Armenia count on normal interstate relations and cooperation with Azerbaijan. Rejecting our constructive proposals, based on the observance of international law, Armenia demonstrates its genuine intention - to annex the seized Azerbaijani territories.

Armenia's authorities continue to profess the ideology of aggressive nationalism, militarism and terrorism and doom their people to the deepest crisis. In a society where territorial expansion and search of external enemies are instilled as a national idea democracy and pluralism cannot take roots. It should be realized in Armenia that the present situation in its conflict with Azerbaijan will not only fail to resolve but will certainly aggravate its own serious internal social and economic problems.

It is with the sense of regret that one has to acknowledge that inaction of the international community leads to strengthened self-confidence of Armenia in pursuing its destructive policy. Both the OSCE Minsk Group and the UN Security Council have backed off in the face of illegitimate force thus calling into question the seriousness of their intentions and continuity in their actions.

Appeasement of the aggressor seriously undermines the whole system of international security, based on the inviolability of principles and norms of international law. Such attitude has on many occasions taken its heavy toll on the international community.

We appeal to the Security Council to carry out necessary measures in order to ensure the implementation of the above mentioned four resolutions and we expect that decisive steps will be taken to stop criminal and aggressive actions on the occupied territories and on the line of engagement, as well as to push the occupying forces to unconditionally, immediately and completely evacuate the seized Azerbaijani territories.

Mr. President,

The conflict has deprived almost one million of Azerbaijanis from roofs over their heads. It is clear, that the forthcoming winter will again become another hard test for the refugees and IDPs, hundreds of thousand of whom continue to live in tent camps. The Government of Azerbaijan, using its limited resources, spares no effort to mitigate their suffering. Recently the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan by his decree allocated more than 70 mln USD to the construction of housing for the refugees.

Highly appreciating the assistance of the international community we nevertheless are worried by its decreasing scale. We urge the relevant UN agencies, donor countries as well as the non-governmental organizations to boost up their attention to the problems of forcefully displaced Azerbaijani population and to adequately respond to their needs. As far as the long-term resolution of this problem is concerned, it, of course, lies in the settlement of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan and in the return of the refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes.

Mr. President,

The conflict has also severely damaged the economy of Azerbaijan. However, having mobilized our domestic resources we managed to overcome serious social-economic crisis and to move towards stabilization and development. Policy of economic reforms and oil strategy elaborated and being implemented under the leadership of the President of Azerbaijan H.E. Mr. Heydar Aliyev, have already yielded concrete results. These reforms have led to macroeconomic stability and high economic growth rates.

Promotion of market economy and entrepreneurship through the establishment of an enabling business environment and necessary legislative base increased share of private sector in economy to 73%. Figures on direct foreign investment per capita show that Azerbaijan is one of the leaders among the countries with economies in transition. On average, the annual economic growth rate equals to 8-10 %.

Implementation of large-scale trans-regional projects on exploitation and transportation of hydrocarbon resources of the Caspian Sea to world market and diversification of transport corridors, initiated by Azerbaijan, have opened new prospects for social economic development of countries along the East-West corridor, aimed at restoration of the historical Silk Road.

Mr. President,

This progress would be impossible without internal political stability which has created the prerequisites and conditions for implementation of radical political reforms and development of democratic society. Nowadays, Azerbaijani democracy stands on the edge of its next test for maturity and firmness - on October 15 the elections of President of the Republic will be held in Azerbaijan. Legislative basis for conducting genuinely free and fair elections has been established in the country. The recently adopted Election Code was widely discussed at local and international levels and meets the highest international standards. Numerous international observers of the OSCE, Council of Europe and other international organizations as well as local observers will follow the presidential elections.

Mr. President,

Triumph of democracy, social progress and sustainable development on a global scale are impossible unless the problems of poverty and sharp disproportion in economic performance across different countries and regions are solved. In this regard implementation of the Millennium Development Goals is extremely important. Combating poverty presupposes close interaction of developed and developing countries. Regretfully, yet there is no breakthrough in this regard. Developed states should pay more attention to the problems of the countries with economies in transition. Experience
proves that narrow-minded interests frequently prevail and, hence, deadlock situations emerge in the negotiation process. Azerbaijan believes that enlargement in the composition of parties to the multilateral trade system as well as granting the provisions of special and differential treatment in the WTO both to developing countries and countries with economies in transition will contribute to their successful global integration.

We are firmly convinced in the necessity to develop the dialog among civilizations and cultures. Only by means of dialogue and good will shall we defeat mistrust and confrontation, and unify our forces in addressing common threats and challenges.

In conclusion, Mr. President, allow me once again to reiterate Azerbaijan's strong adherence to its political course aimed at building a strong democratic state with market economy and our genuine willingness and desire to effectively contribute to peace and international security.

Thank you.