On April 10-15, 2016 in Istanbul will be held the 13th Session of the Islamic Summit Conference. under the theme of “Unity and Solidarity for Justice and Peace”. Indeed, this is a critical time when the Islamic world needs to be in unity and solidarity to confront the challenges, risks and threats it has been facing and to look for viable solutions to the issues and problems that have been jeopardizing the justice and peace that the people of the Islamic world rightfully deserve.[i]
With this Summit meeting, the Chairmanship of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation will be transferred for the next two years from Egypt to Turkey who plays the increasing role in international affairs is in the course of recent years. As one of the G20 countries, Turkey contributes today to peace, security and stability at global and regional levels.
Azerbaijan is one of the countries to participate to this Summit as OIC member State. It will be represented by Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic.[ii] The development of cooperation between Azerbaijan and the OIC is a prioritized direction in its foreign policy and has a strategic importance. Since regaining its independence, Azerbaijan was the first among the CIS countries that appealed to become a member of the OIC and in 1991 has joined the organization.[iii]
If we analyze historical events, we can see clearly that, at the beginning of its independance, with limited and poor informative capabilities, it was one of the crucial issues for Azerbaijan, which was exposed of the aggression by the Armenia, to get a support from Islamic Ummah for his just position and to convey grievous consequences to the world community.[iv]
Thanks to the efforts of Nationwide Leader Haydar Aliyev, at the 7th Summit of Heads of States and Governments of the OIC member countries in Casablanca, for the first time in the history of the OIC Summits, the political resolution on the “Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict” was adopted. At this document, according to the article 68, the Conference strongly condemned the aggression of the Republic of Armenia against the Azerbaijan Republic. It considered the actions perpetrated against civilian Azeri population in occupied Azeri territory as crimes against humanity and strongly demanded the strict implementation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions 822, 853, 874 and 884, immediate unconditional and complete withdrawal of Armenian forces from all occupied Azeri territories inter alia Lachin and Shusha regions and strongly urged Armenia to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Azerbaijan Republic. The article 69 of the Conference called on the Security Council to recognize the existence of aggression against the Azerbaijan Republic; take the necessary steps under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations to ensure compliance with its resolutions; condemn and reverse aggression against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Azerbaijan Republic and decided to take coordinated action to this end at the United Nations. Article 70 of the Conference called for a just and peaceful settlement of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan on the basis of respect for the principles of territorial integrity of states and inviolability of internationally recognized frontiers. At the end, Article 71 reaffirmed its total solidarity and support for the efforts being made by the Government and people of Azerbaijan to defend their country. It called for enabling the displaced persons and refugees to return to their homes in safety, honour and dignity. It expressed its concern over the severity of humanitarian problems concerning the existence of more than one million displaced persons and refugees in the territory of the Azerbaijan Republic and requested the member states, the Islamic Development Bank and the other Islamic Institutions to render urgent financial and humanitarian assistance to the Azerbaijan Republic.[v]
Since this Summit, it was achieved to regularly include the issue of the “Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict” into the list of problems being discussed in the framework of the cooperation between the UN and the OIC[vi], so that the relevant resolutions on the economic assistance to Azerbaijan[vii] and on the destruction and desecration of Islamic historical and cultural relics and shrines in the occupied Azerbaijan territories, resulting from the aggression of the Republic of Armenia against the Republic of Azerbaijan[viii], were included to the agenda of the OIC and adopted unanimously by the member countries at the 9th Summit in Qatar.
It is important to underline that that adopting a resolution under the title of “resolution on the aggression of the Republic of Armenia against the Republic of Azerbaijan” at the 10th Summit of the Heads of States and Governments of member countries of the OIC in Malaysia in October 2003[ix] played an important role in bringing the just position of Azerbaijan to the attention of the world community.
The same position was repeated both at the Article 60 of the Final Communiqué[x] and at the separate resolution adopted at the framework of 11th Summit in Senegal on March 2008[xi] and at the Article 61 of the Final Communiqué of the 12th Summit in Egypt on February 2013[xii].
It is also important that the position of the OIC member countries was decisive in adopting the resolution on the “Situation in the Occupied Territories of Azerbaijan” at the 62nd Session of the UN GA in 14 March 2008.[xiii]
It is a great pleasure for us as Azerbaijanis to see OIC always attached to this philosophy of justice that belongs to Islam. At this regard, when Armenians restarted their provocative acts at the Line of Contact between Armenia and Azerbaijan at the beginning of April, OIC reacted immediately. By the Declaration published on the official internet site, OIC expressed its serious concern the developments in Nagorno-Karabakh region and the attacks carried out recently by the Armenian forces on the borders of the occupied Azeri territories. It expressed apprehension over Armenia’s insistence to resume fighting, failure to respect the truce and persistence in its aggressive policies.[xiv]
The OIC Secretary General, Iyad Ameen Madani, also expressed deep concern over this escalation resulting from the continued occupation of Azeri territories by Armenia, recalling the OIC position for immediate, unconditional and complete withdrawal of Armenian forces from Nagorno-Karabakh region and other occupied Azeri territories and underlining the need to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Madani also reiterated the need to intensify international efforts, especially by Minsk Group, to reach an urgent political settlement for the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan on the basis of the territorial integrity and the inviolability of the internationally recognized borders of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and in conformity with the principles of international law, UN Security Council resolutions as well as the relevant documents and decisions of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.[xv]
At the last Summit, Azerbaijan will probably reiterate its unchanged position regarding OIC activities. Azerbaijan perceives the co-operation with Islamic countries as a priority and attaches a particular importance to these ties. In the course of recent years, Baku has hosted meetings of foreign, culture, tourism, education, labor and other ministers of OIC member-countries. Mutual support between Muslim countries is very important from the point of view of the Islamic solidarity and Azerbaijan highly appreciates the role of OIC in this respect.
Today, the Islamophobia is seen as one of contemporary challenges in the world. Strongly condemn this trend, Azerbaijan declares at every occasion that the Islam is based upon such main principles as peace, mercy, tolerance and justice. From this point of view, efforts of some forces in the world to link Islam with terror is absolutely wrong and biased approach, Indeed, it is the Muslim countries that suffer the most from terror. Azerbaijan is one of the concret exemple of this.
So, Azerbaijan believes that the global peace and security, the global prosperity is possible only by the justice, by the tolerance, by the dialogue between civilizations. That is why it puts efforts to contribute to the relations and dialogue between cultures and religions, organizing different global events. In this respect, Baku has hosted World Intercultural Dialogue Forums, International Humanitarian Forums, World Religious Leaders Summits. In the end of April, Azerbaijan will host the 7th Global Forum of UN Alliance of Civilizations. Hoping that Islamic world within Muslim countries and also in cooperation with rest of the world will at list find an opportunity to live in peace, security and prosperity.
Dr. Turab GURBANOV