Elmar Mammadyarov made a speech at “Strengthening cooperation on migration and refugee movements under new development agenda” event

'We believe, international community should, first and foremost, not allow new armed conflicts to happen', FM says

Baku. 1 October. REPORT.AZ/ Elmar Mammadyarov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, delivered speech at a high-level side event on “Strengthening cooperation on migration and refugee movements under the new development agenda” on September 30, 2015. 

Report informs, the statement reads as below:

"Dear Secretary-General,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, I would like commend the Secretary-General for his initiative to convene this important and timely event on strengthening cooperation on migration and refugee movements under the new development agenda.

In recent years, the expansion of geographical area of conflict zones around the globe caused the rapid growth in numbers of those who lost their lives or were forced to flee their homes. The cases of unprecedented mass migration from the war-torn Middle East and North Africa and the scenes of death of innocent people, including women and children, en-route to Europe are blood freezing.

We believe that the international community should, first and foremost, not allow new armed conflicts to happen and, at the same time, should seek effective solutions to the existing ones based on the generally accepted norms and principles of international law, including in particular those relating to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States. It is also important to strengthen cooperation between States and international organisations, such as UNHCR, IOM, ICRC, relevant UN mechanisms in solving the problems of vulnerable people.

In fact, failure to tackle the problem of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) is a serious threat not only to countries concerned in South and Central Europe but for the entire region. We also have to address carefully the attempts of some political leaders to misuse suffered migrants in their own malicious interests to promote the illegal practice, like those in Armenia who try to resettle Armenian migrants from Syria on the occupied lands of Azerbaijan. This is unacceptable and constitutes a grave breach of international humanitarian law, in particular the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention and Additional Protocols.

As a country who suffered through the last 25 years from the problem of refugees movement I wish to share with you some of my country's experience. The number of Azerbaijani refugees and IDPs from the occupied by the Republic of Armenia Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions of Azerbaijan is about one million. Given its 9,7 million population, Azerbaijan has one of the largest per capita IDP and refugees burden in the world.

Over the years, Government of Azerbaijan with international community has provided significant resources towards the improvement of overall living conditions for this group of population. This has resulted, first of all, in better housing conditions and a significant decline in the poverty rate among the IDPs and refugees. In 2007 the last IDP camp in the country (12 camps in total) was eliminated. Our achievements in fostering social, educational, medical and economic sustainability of the displaced persons were noticed and commended by Mr. William Swing, IOM Director General, during his recent visit to Azerbaijan (I thank him for that).

Despite the enormous efforts made by the Government, the total solution of IDP problems is still very difficult to achieve. About 400 000 IDPs continue to live under difficult conditions in old and unsuitable houses.

The full restoration of the human rights of IDPs and refugees requires a resolution of the conflict. Azerbaijan’s position in this issue is crystal clear: all the internationally recognized territories of Azerbaijan under Armenian occupation must be liberated and the right of IDPs to return to their homes and properties must be ensured. In that regard, the Government of Azerbaijan has developed a comprehensive repatriation programme called the “Great Return” to enable the IDPs to realize their rights to return to their homes and to access to their properties as soon as Armenia withdraw its troops from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.

Ensuring the right to return constitutes a categorical rejection of ethnic cleansing and offers important measures of justice to those displaced from their homes and land, thereby removing a source of possible future tension and conflict. The violation of individual rights and freedoms can in no way produce the outcome that was ab initio designed by the perpetrator and that would serve for its benefit.

Thank you.", the statement ends. 

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