Azerbaijan delegation participated in international conference on “Refugees in the Muslim World” held in Ashgabat

On 11-12 May 2011, international conference on “Refugees in the Muslim World” held in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan with joint initiative of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and Turkmenistan Government. In the ministerial conference representatives of member countries of, nearly 40 international and intergovernmental organizations, observers from 21 countries, thus from Russian Federation, People’s Republic of China, United States of America, European Union member countries were participating.

President of Turkmenistan Gurbangulu Berdimuhammedov opened conference with opening remarks and thanked to management of OIC, UN, and UNHCR for organizing assembly. In the event secretary – general of Organization of Islamic Cooperation Akmaladdin Ihsanoglu, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Gutierrez made speeches.

Head of Azerbaijan delegation, Deputy chief of the State Migration Service, III rank state migration service counselor Parviz Musayev making speech in the conference informed conference participants about several serious steps taken by the government related with the problems of refugees, IDPs, asylum seekers in Azerbaijan Republic. Deputy chief of the Service notified that, Azerbaijan is party to 1951 UN Convention on Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol also 1961 Convention on Reduction of Statelessness and fully adapted its legislation prior to the requirements of these conventions. Azerbaijan state has adopted several laws, legal-normative acts on solving problems of persons from these categories and realizes necessary measures for the implementation of them. Relevant procedure related with granting “refugee” status is arranged and continuous work is being carried out towards improving implementation of this procedure. P. Musayev emphasizing special role of cooperation with UNHCR in achievements gained in this sphere and expressed his gratitude to UNHCR for their support to Azerbaijan government, refugees and IDPs in our country.

Deputy Chief of the Service also brought to the attention of conference participants that as a result of planned ethnic cleansing policy pursued by Armenia in 1988 – 1993, 250 thousand Azerbaijanis who historically lived in that area were expelled from their homeland and they moved to Azerbaijan.

P. Musayev informed conference participants on the present condition of refugees and IDP’s settled in the territory of the country as a result of Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan, stressed the necessity of their return to homelands and the importance of the international community’s assistance in this direction.

It was stated that as a result of military aggression of Armenian armed forces 20 percent of Azerbaijan lands – Nagorno-Karabakh, thus 7 adjacent regions have been occupied, from Nagorno-Karabakh, adjacent regions also from settlements having borders with Armenia or Nagorno-Karabakh some 700 thousand Azerbaijanis have become IDPs losing their permanent residence places. As a result of military operations tens of thousands of people, as well as civil persons, women, children and elders have been killed. Conflict damaged Azerbaijan economy in the amount of 60 billion US dollars.

Parviz Musayev then stated that there are 1767 persons who want to obtain refugee status (asylum seekers) in Azerbaijan. This number was 12 thousand 18 years ago and during previous years solutions have been found for more than 10 thousand of them. For remaining persons efforts are shown in order to solve their problems and in this sphere we will continue our activities within cooperation with UNHCR. Therefore, currently there are nearly one million refugees, IDPs and persons who want to obtain “refugee” status (asylum seekers) in Azerbaijan.

Deputy Chief of the Service also mentioned that today under the guidance of the President of Azerbaijan Republic political stability established in our country, successful economic reforms gives opportunity to solve social problems of population, as well as refugees and IDPs and to improve their living conditions. In 1998, 250 thousand Azerbaijani refugees from Armenia were granted Azerbaijan citizenship. As a result of efforts of Azerbaijan government in 2007 12 tent camps for IDPs was abolished, 21600 family, more than 107 thousand refugees and IDPs have been moved to 70 newly built settlements. Currently poverty level among refugees and IDPs has been decreased from 74 percent to 18 percent.

P. Musayev at the same time emphasized that the steps taken for improvement of living standards of refugees and IDP’s are only temporary measures. The final and only solution to these problems is the liberation of all the occupied territories of Azerbaijan and return of IDP’s to their native lands.

It was noted that Azerbaijan side does all its best for the regulation of Armenia-Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh conflict upon principles of international law. The Republic of Armenia, on the contrary, instead of creating confidence between our people, tries to incite hostility and deepen the sense of hatred in the region.  

The infrastructure in occupied 20 percent territory of Azerbaijan has been destroyed completely and civil population of Armenian origin is being settled on these territories against requirements of 1949 Geneva Convention. Field Evaluation Mission of OSCE Minsk Group containing also UNHCR representatives witnessed such cases once again during their visit to occupied Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding 7 regions.

Stating that such a situation is a threat to the whole region head of Azerbaijan delegation P. Musayev stressed that therefore international community must ensure territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, mobilize all their efforts to restore peace and justice in the region.

At the end of his speech P. Musayev stated with assurance that Azerbaijan will be loyal to its commitments and continue close cooperation with OIC in upcoming years.

At the end of the two-day international conference Ashgabat Declaration was adopted on behalf of ministers and delegation heads of member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation uniting 57 states. In the Article 9 of the Ashgabat Declaration consisting of 18 Articles deep concern over plight of Azerbaijani refugees and population expelled from the occupied territories in and around Nagorno-Karabakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan and over magnitude and severity of these humanitarian problems were indicated. Calling for enabling Azerbaijani refugees and expelled population to return their homes in safety, honour and dignity and reaffirming solidarity with the efforts undertaken by the Government and people of Azerbaijan Member States demanded full implementation of relevant resolutions of OIC, UN General Assembly and Security Council.

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