Azerbaijani Deputy Prime Minister discussed the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and its grave consequences for Azerbaijan with a Turkish delegation visiting the country.
Ali Hasanov, who is also chairman of the State Committee for Affairs of Refugees and IDPs and the chairman of the Republican Commission on International Humanitarian Aid met the Turkish delegation on April 7, AzerTag state news agency reported.
The Turkish delegation comprised of parliamentarians and members of Istanbul Chamber of Commerce.
Hasanov said Azerbaijan-Turkey relations have historical roots and are based on friendship and fraternity.
Speaking of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Hasanov said as a result of military aggression of the Armenian armed forces against Azerbaijan, 20 percent of its lands – Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjoining administrative regions- were occupied, more than one million Azerbaijanis had become refugees and internally displaced persons, national and cultural resources were plundered, and all infrastructures were destroyed.
He noted that Armenia’s aggressive policy was condemned in the decisions and resolutions of the OSCE, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and other influential international organizations.
“Unfortunately, these decisions and resolutions still remain only on paper. Ignoring the demands of the international community, Armenia continues its illegal activity in Azerbaijan’s occupied territories. Brokered by the OSCE Minsk Group for more than 20 years, the process of negotiations has not yet yielded any results,” Hasanov underlined.
He also said the Azerbaijani government is doing a great work in the legal, as well as socio-economic, fields in order to meet the needs of refugees and IDPs.
“The Azerbaijani government has spent 5.4 billion U.S. dollars in order to solve the social problems of the refugees and IDPs in the last 20 years. Some 180,000 refugees and IDPs have been moved to new settlements with the funds allocated from the State Oil Fund of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and the process is underway,” Hasanov said.
He noted that poverty rate in 2003was 49 percent in the country and 75 percent among refugees and IDPs.
“However, as a result of the measures taken by the government, poverty rate has been reduced to 5 percent in the country and 15 percent among refugees and IDPs,” Hasanov said.
He added that Turkey`s relevant humanitarian organizations were the first to render assistance to the victims of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Head of the Turkish delegation and member of Istanbul Chamber of Commerce Ozturk Oran described the Khojaly genocide as a crime against humanity, and stressed that those responsible for the crime must be punished in accordance with international law.
In 1992, the town of Khojaly, the second largest town in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, came under intense fire by Armenia’s armed forces; 613 civilians, mostly women and children, were killed in the massacre, and a total of 1,000 people were disabled. Eight families were exterminated, 25 children lost both parents, and 130 children lost one parent. Moreover, 1,275 innocent people were taken hostage, and the fate of 150 of them remains unknown.
Civilians were shot at close range, scalped, and burned alive. Some had their eyes gouged out and others were beheaded.
Oran hailed the efforts of the Azerbaijani government to tackle the problems of refugees and IDPs, noting that the Armenians should not forget that the territories of the present Armenia are ancient Azerbaijani lands.
Oran also highlighted the activities of Istanbul Chamber of Commerce, saying it is one of the oldest non-governmental organizations of the world.
Turkish MP from ruling Justice and Development Party Seyit Ercelik and other speakers condemned Armenia`s aggression against Azerbaijan, stressing the importance of raising awareness in the international community about Azerbaijan`s realities.
The Turkish delegation also had a meeting with Chairman of Azerbaijan`s State Committee on Work with Diaspora Nazim Ibrahimov on the same day.
During the meeting, it was noted that the establishment of a joint committee to combat anti-Turkish and anti-Azerbaijani campaigns in the world is underway.
Noting that the Turkish Prime Minister paid his first foreign visit to Azerbaijan after the recent municipal elections, Ibrahimov said it showed that Turkey and Azerbaijan were fraternal states who always supported each other.
Turkish MP Ercelik, in turn, said the visit was aimed at combining efforts in the fight against anti-Turkish and anti-Azerbaijani campaigns in the world.
Chairman of the Special Commission under Istanbul Chamber of Commerce Mustafa Balkuv informed the attendees about the organization he represents, saying that with 350 thousand members, the organization was the largest in Turkey and the fifth among the world’s NGOs.
Oran said cooperation should be strengthened in the fight against anti-Turkish and anti-Azerbaijani campaigns in the world, not only between the diasporas of the two states, but also between government organizations and NGOs.
Shedding light on the truth about Azerbaijan in the world and recognition of Khojaly genocide should also be on the cooperation agenda, he added.
The 12-member Istanbul Chamber of Commerce delegation has been on a visit to Baku from April 4 and has held a number of formal and informal meetings.