Speaker of Azerbaijan's Milli Majlis (Parliament) Sahiba Gafarova received Hadja Lahbib, Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Affairs, Foreign Trade and Federal Cultural Institutions of the Kingdom of Belgium, who is on a visit to Azerbaijan.
Report informs, citing the Press and Public Relations Department of the Milli Majlis, that after welcoming the visiting delegation led by Ms Lahbib, Sahiba Gafarova spoke of the inter-parliamentary relations as one of the staples of the links between Azerbaijan and Belgium before she gave an overview of the current situation in our country and our region.
The speaker mentioned that Azerbaijan recovered her lands from the 30-year-long Armenian occupation at the 44 days’ Patriotic War of 2020. Having restored its territorial integrity and despite been a victim of invasion and occupation, Azerbaijan came up with a peace initiative aiming to bring lasting peace and stability to the South Caucasus and normalising the relations with Armenia in keeping with international law’s standards and principles.
Sahiba Gafarova moved on to the large-scale restoration and re-building started by Azerbaijan in her de-occupied lands, telling Ms Lahbib and her delegation that modern towns and villages are under construction in the freed territories including Garabagh and East Zangazur. The Grand Return programme devised to bring the erstwhile IDP back to their homelands has been geared into motion already. Unfortunately, though, the facts that the rights of the Azerbaijani IDP had been trampled down for 30 years and they could not return to the native lands were largely cold-shouldered by the international community, Mrs Gafarova continued. This indifference signals double standards, themselves rooted in many factors, in no small way in the propaganda of the Armenian Lobby and the islamophobia.
Gafarova also talked about the Armenian mass mining of Azerbaijani territories, the biggest obstacle to the re-construction of Azerbaijan's liberated territories.
As regards the campaign of deception and political fiction launched by Armenia in regard to the Lachin Road, the Milli Majlis Speaker stressed that the road in question and been and was open and that whatever blockade of that transport artery was quite out of the question. The Lachin Road is part of the Azerbaijani territory, of course, and the Azerbaijan Republic acted in accordance with the international norms and executed her sovereign right when she installed a border checkpoint on that road in April 2023. Azerbaijan suggested that the Aghdam-Khankendi Road should be used to carry humanitarian supplies to Khankendi and the surrounding villages, and this suggestion found support eventually. Regrettably, though, Armenia simply would not use that road. The Armenian residents of Garabagh happen to be citizens of Azerbaijan and our country is taking necessary steps to reintegrate them into the Azerbaijani society, according to Sahiba Gafarova. President Ilham Aliyev has declared time and again that the Armenians living in Garabagh are Azerbaijani citizens poised to enjoy all the rights bestowed on all the other citizens of Azerbaijan. The absurd claims of Armenia about ‘a tense humanitarian situation’ in the Garabagh Region and its Armenian population being short of food products and medicines are only intended to mislead the international community and target the territorial wholeness and sovereignty of Azerbaijan, according to Sahiba Gafarova.
According to Gafarova, it is surprising that Armenia, which had not respected the UN Security Council resolutions for nearly 30 years and continues to keep Azerbaijani lands under occupation in defiance of the documents of all international organisations, again, the UN Security Council, should be bringing the issue of Lachin up before the Council. This is sheer hypocrisy, in the opinion of the leader of the Azerbaijani legislature.
The people of Azerbaijan want peace and stability. The peace treaty proposed by Azerbaijan has not been signed though the war ended three years ago. And it has not been, because Armenia is keen to delay the process. It is not bravery to announce you recognise the territorial integrity of another country; rather, this is simply meeting a requirement of the international law. Azerbaijan is busy restoring all the liberated towns and provinces and doing this work on such a grand scale is bravery indeed, according to Sahiba Gafarova.
The five lopsided and biased resolutions concerning Azerbaijan that the Belgian Parliament has over the three years past were criticised rather sternly then, with Madam Chair saying that the resolutions had failed to describe the situation in our region accurately. On the other hand, the fact that Belgian MPs had only visited Armenia did a damage to the balance of relations with the regional states. Azerbaijan did invite the leaders of the Belgian Parliament, the head of the friendship group for our country and other MPs to visit us repeatedly. If anything, such trips would be a fine opportunity to form a clearer and more correct understanding of the state of affairs in the region, Azerbaijan and, especially, in Garabagh, which is also important for getting the right picture of our Armenian citizens living in Garabagh and of our relations with them. If the Belgian MPs come to Azerbaijan, they will see everything for themselves and will go to Shusha and Aghdam – the Aghdam declared the Hiroshima of the 21st century. Everything had been run into the ground in all our towns and villages and, generally, provinces formerly under the Armenian occupation, after all.
Hadja Lahbib said, in turn, that she was glad to be at the Parliament of Azerbaijan before she told Sahiba Gafarova about the goals of her visit to Azerbaijan and the meetings she had held.
Lahbib emphasised the importance of mutual visits between Azerbaijan and Belgium and said that she had discussed many issues during her current visit to Baku. She then stressed the importance of ensuring peace and security in the region as well as demining the Azerbaijani territories, adding that Belgium had every intention of promoting only peace and reclamation in those lands. As Hadja Lahbib pointed out, the 30 years in question had seen a lot of destruction.
Besides, Lahbib informed Gafarova of the work of Belgian political institutions, multiculturalism, gender equality and other matters.
Further issues of shared interest were talked over as this meeting continued.