The Summit-level Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement Contact Group in response to COVID-19 has been held in Baku.
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev attended the Summit-level Meeting.
President Ilham Aliyev welcomed Prime Minister of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria Aïmen Benabderrahmane, Prime Cabinet Secretary of Republic of Kenya Wycliffe Musalia Mudavadi, Vice President of Tanzania Philip Isdor Mpango, Vice-President of the Republic of Cuba Salvador Antonio Valdés Mesa, member of the Federal Supreme Council of the United Arab Emirates, Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Vice President of the Gabonese Republic Mrs. Rose Christiane Raponda, President of the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Csaba Kőrösi, Chairwoman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Željka Cvijanović, President of the Republic of Iraq Abdullatif Jamal Rashid, Head of the Presidency Council of Libya Mohamed Younis al-Menfi, President of Turkmenistan Serdar Berdimuhamedov and President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev.
They posed together for photographs.
Opening the event as chair of the Non-Aligned Movement, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev said:
– Excellences, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen.
I warmly welcome you all in Baku, Azerbaijan at the Summit-level Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement Contact Group in response to COVID-19. More than three years ago, in this very hall, Azerbaijan assumed the chairmanship of NAM, which I can proudly say in the past few years had become one of the key players in international relations. Before starting our deliberations, I want to draw your attention to the following. As you all know, a few weeks ago, a devastating earthquake happened in Türkiye and Syria. Being one of the most tragic natural disasters of our times, the earthquake claims the lives of tens of thousands of people. I invite all participants of this summit to stand and observe a minute of silence in tribute to the memory of those who lost their lives. May Allah rest their souls in peace! Thank you!
We convey our deepest sadness on this terrible disaster and extend our condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims, and wish a speedy recovery to those injured.
We can now start our deliberations. Before proceeding to the opening session, the Summit-level Meeting is to adopt the agenda. The provisional agenda for the Summit-level Meeting has been circulated among the delegations. Can I consider that there are no objections to the agenda? Thank you! Agenda of the Summit-level Meeting is hereby adopted. I will now deliver my opening statement in my capacity as a chair of Non-Aligned Movement.
Speech by President Ilham Aliyev
– Distinguished Heads of State and Government,
Distinguished Heads of Delegations,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I welcome you all in Baku at the Summit-level Meeting of the NAM Contact Group in response to COVID-19 on post-pandemic global recovery.
With a unanimous decision of NAM countries, in 2019, Azerbaijan assumed the chairmanship of NAM for the period of 2019-2022. Our chairmanship was also extended by a unanimous decision for one more year. We are grateful to the Member States for their support of Azerbaijan’s chairmanship.
As a chair of NAM, our aim is to defend justice and international law. Right after the beginning of the pandemic, it was NAM that took the initiative to mobilize global efforts to counter COVID-19.
We initiated the NAM Online Summit at the Heads of State and Government level in May 2020. The Summit decided to establish the Non-Aligned Movement Task Force to work out a database. The World Health Organization used this database as a reference point for identifying the needs of NAM Member States in addressing the pandemic.
At that Summit, I suggested convening the UN General Assembly Special Session at the leaders’ level. This proposal gained huge support among the UN Member States.
The Special Session was held in December 2020 and was addressed by over 70 heads of state and government. The Special Session emphasized the need for increased international solidarity and recognized NAM’s leadership in the fight against coronavirus.
We considered “vaccine nationalism” pursued by some wealthy countries, among others, as a serious impediment in countering the pandemic. Subsequently, NAM initiated two resolutions for equitable and universal access to vaccines for all countries adopted in the UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly in 2021.
NAM’s leadership in mobilizing global efforts to fight the pandemic once more demonstrated the Movement’s influence and responsibility.
Azerbaijan provided coronavirus-related financial and humanitarian support to more than 80 countries, most of those from our NAM family either through bilateral channels or World Health Organization.
Azerbaijan strongly supports the institutional development of the Movement. We initiated the establishment of the NAM Parliamentary Network. The first meeting of the NAM Parliamentary Network took place in Baku in June 2022.
Furthermore, the Shusha accords established the NAM Youth Organization in July 2022. The permanent secretariat of the NAM Youth Organization will be located in Baku.
Our goal is to create institutional sustainability and to leave a successful legacy to the members who will take over the chairmanship after Azerbaijan.
In 2021 during the High-Level Commemorative Meeting, which took place in Belgrade, I suggested the idea of the high-level meeting of the NAM Member States with the aim to formulate the position of the Movement concerning the post-COVID-19 era. With this in mind, I called this summit, which I believe will create an opportunity to discuss emerging global issues.
The international security architecture, which has existed for the last several decades, is currently facing dramatic changes, and multilateralism is at stake. The erosion of international law norms and principles further threatens the international order.
More cases of violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity and intervention in the internal affairs of states are observed. The decisions of the leading international organizations are not either implemented or the selective approach and double standards are being applied.
The new world order is in the process of reshaping. Now the world is witnessing the most serious East-West confrontation since the end of the Cold War, with repercussions for the remaining part of the world. As the second largest international institution after the UN, NAM should play a more visible and efficient role in the international arena and actively participate in reshaping the new world order.
Unfortunately, nowadays, we observe a rising tendency towards neo-colonialism. NAM, which came into existence due to the historical decolonization process, should unify its efforts toward completely eliminating this shameful page of mankind.
NAM always strongly supported the unquestionable sovereignty of the Union of Comoros over the island of Mayotte, which continues to be under the colonial rule of France. As reflected in fundamental NAM documents, we call on the French Government to respect the rights of the New Caledonian people and other peoples in French overseas communities and territories. The French-administered territories outside Europe are nasty remains of the French colonial empire. We also call on France to apologize and admit its responsibility for its colonial past and bloody colonial crimes and acts of genocide against NAM member countries in Africa, South-East Asia and other places.
Another important issue, which has been discussed worldwide for many years, is the UN system’s reforms. UN Security Council is reminiscent of the past and does not reflect the current reality. The composition of the Security Council should be expanded to make it more representative and more geographically fair.
One permanent seat should be given to the Non-Aligned Movement, and the country holding the position of chair of the Movement should have this seat on a rotating basis. I call on NAM member countries to start consultations on this issue and present their views to the relevant UN Committee.
We also support the allocation of permanent seats for Africa in the Security Council.
The pandemic had a negative impact on the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. The global efforts should be reinforced to prevent, inter alia, backsliding on targets and to catch up with the 2030 Agenda.
To this end, we suggested establishing a UN High-Level Panel on Global Recovery from COVID-19. This Panel could elaborate recommendations on global measures for the post-pandemic period. I invite all NAM members to support this initiative.
We should further strengthen the South-South cooperation guided by the principles of respect for sovereignty, national ownership, equality and mutual benefit. Its agenda is set by countries of the South themselves in line with their national needs and priorities, not imposed by the outside world.
Climate change is another challenge for humanity, causing serious problems such as water scarcity, food insecurity, and forced migration.
Small Island Developing States deserve more attention in this regard since they are more vulnerable to climate change’s impact and face an existential threat.
As was the case during the COVID-19 pandemic, Azerbaijan will continue to provide financial and humanitarian assistance to NAM countries in need. I declare two Global Calls to support the post-pandemic recovery of Africa and Small Island Developing States. It is my pleasure to announce that Azerbaijan, as the first donor, is allocating 1 million US dollars for both Global Calls. I believe that NAM members and other members of the international community will support Azerbaijan’s initiative and will follow us in supporting the countries in need on their path to post-pandemic recovery.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As I mentioned earlier, the UN Security Council is inefficient today. For example, some Security Council resolutions have been implemented within days. However, in the case of Azerbaijan, Armenia ignored the four Security Council’s resolutions demanding immediate and unconditional withdrawal of its armed forces from the territories of Azerbaijan for almost 30 years.
In 2020 Azerbaijan itself restored its territorial integrity and historical justice by military-political means and enforced the Security Council resolutions’ implementation. Probably, it was the first case in the world since the establishment of the UN.
During the years of occupation, hundreds of cities and villages in Azerbaijan were deliberately destroyed, and all cultural and religious sites were looted and plundered by Armenia. The liberated territories of Azerbaijan have been turned into a textbook example of urbicide, culturicide and ecocide. Since the end of 2020, thousands of foreign diplomats, journalists, NGOs and politicians, including from NAM countries, have visited the liberated territories and witnessed the barbarism committed by Armenia.
Azerbaijan conducts large-scale reconstruction work in the liberated territories with its own financial resources. The Government of Azerbaijan spent about 4 billion USD for reconstruction work in 2021-2022. This year, we plan to allocate at least 1,7 billion USD for this purpose. We are building new cities and villages from scratch by applying modern urban planning and utilizing the concepts of “smart city” and “smart village.” It is a unique and unprecedented post-conflict development and reconstruction model led by national governments.
Azerbaijan is among the most heavily mine-infested countries in the world due to the Armenian occupation. Some 300 Azerbaijanis have been killed or seriously injured in mine incidents since the end of the Second Karabakh War in November 2020.
Given the paramount importance of humanitarian demining for the country, Azerbaijan is currently considering setting a particular national Sustainable Development Goal. Azerbaijan sees a direct link between SDGs and demining since mines slow down the reconstruction process in the liberated territories and the return of former internally displaced persons. Azerbaijan actively promotes the initiative of launching the 18th SDG on demining. We invite NAM countries to support this initiative.
Since a number of NAM member countries are among the most contaminated countries by mines and unexploded ordnances, I would like to suggest forming a Like-Minded Group of Mine-Affected Countries to make our voice heard globally.
Shortly after the end of the conflict, Azerbaijan presented five basic principles for the peace agreement to Armenia based on the mutual recognition of each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Using this opportunity, I would like to thank NAM countries for their firm stance in supporting the just position of Azerbaijan and not allowing one-sided and biased anti-Azerbaijani statements to pass in the UN Security Council both in 2020 and 2022.
In conclusion, I assure you that Azerbaijan, as a chair of NAM, will spare no effort in further defending the legitimate interests of NAM Member States and increasing our Movement’s standing in the international arena.
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Then, President of the 77th Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) Csaba Kőrösi made a speech and expressed his gratitude to the head of state for the invitation to participate in the summit. Csaba Kőrösi emphasized that humanity was currently under the serious influence of various processes taking place in the world, including the COVID-19 pandemic, and noted the importance of such meetings in terms of expanding relations in order to prevent these problems. He said that the pandemic had created the biggest health crisis of the century. “This showed that the only way out of the pandemic was to develop solidarity not only within borders, but internationally.”
Emphasizing the importance of the initiatives put forward by Azerbaijan in the fight against COVID-19, Csaba Kőrösi said: “The initiatives put forward by Azerbaijan in this regard, as well as the timely and fair access and accessibility of vaccines, are an example of mutual support. The Non-Aligned Movement has taken initiatives in global solidarity to respond to this crisis and overcome the consequences of the pandemic.”
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Speaking on behalf of UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva (UN Geneva) Tatiana Valovaya expressed her gratitude to President Ilham Aliyev and Azerbaijan for hosting the Summit-level Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement Contact Group in response to COVID-19. Stating that the importance of the Non-Aligned Movement in terms of multilateral cooperation in the 21st century had increased, Tatiana Valovaya said that the Movement was active in the direction of sustainable development, combating climate change and establishing peace. She noted that the pandemic, which had caused the death of 6.5 million people around the world, had deepened inequality, depression and unemployment, had a devastating effect on a number of areas, especially education. Noting the importance of global cooperation in the post-pandemic period, especially the creation of necessary conditions for young people and the strengthening of relations among them, the UN official stated that institutional measures played an important part in this regard. She also emphasized the initiatives put forward by Azerbaijan. “The initiative of Azerbaijan regarding the establishment of the Parliamentary Network is commendable. I also consider the initiatives of Azerbaijan in the field of work with youth – the holding of the Youth Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in July 2022 and the establishment of the Movement’s Youth Network – are praiseworthy,” Tatiana Valovaya said.
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Then, a video address by Director-General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was screened. In his message, Tedros Ghebreyesus congratulated Azerbaijan on the occasion of its successful chairmanship of the Non-Aligned Movement. Emphasizing that the member countries of the Non-Aligned Movement were suffering from the pandemic, the Director-General said that it was necessary to benefit from the collective experience of the members of the Movement in building safer and healthier systems in the post-pandemic period. The World Health Organization appealed to strengthen the efforts of the member countries of the Non-Aligned Movement towards the adoption of documents related to pandemic preparation and response measures at the international level. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stressed the need for active participation in the financing of the World Health Organization and investing in the establishment of local production as priority goals.
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The Summit continued with a plenary session.
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President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev noted that the role and influence of the Non-Aligned Movement in the international arena had substantially increased during Azerbaijan’s chairmanship and multilateral cooperation among the countries had been raised to a new level within the framework of this important platform. Despite the difficulties of the pandemic period, solidarity and close unity have become stronger. For the first time in the history of the organization, its parliamentary and youth networks were established.
The leader of Uzbekistan emphasized: “All these achievements were possible thanks to the great efforts and initiatives of my respected colleague, President Ilham Aliyev, and his goal-oriented activity in the interests of member states.”
Drawing attention to the effective efforts of the President of Azerbaijan at restoring the country’s regions, the President of Uzbekistan said that historical justice and socioeconomic infrastructure had been restored, new facilities had been built, and favorable conditions had been created for the population.
President Shavkat Mirziyoyev proposed a number of initiatives, including the further strengthening of activities on the basis of the Global Platform to achieve the main goals of the Sendai framework program in the period until 2030, as well as the creation of a special network of the Non-Aligned Movement for monitoring and scientific research. This institution could be located in Uzbekistan and regularly hold economic forums of the organization on the eve of the Non-Aligned Movement summits.
Addressing the issue of reforms in the UN, the President of Uzbekistan said that the members of the Non-Aligned Movement should have a permanent place in the Security Council.
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Expressing his gratitude to President Ilham Aliyev and the government of Azerbaijan for the invitation to participate in the summit, President of Iraq Abdullatif Jamal Rashid drew attention to the importance of improving infrastructure and services and ensuring food safety in the period after the global pandemic. Talking about the steps taken in these directions in his country, the head of the Iraqi state said the Iraqi government was attaching special importance to issues of climate change. Climate change also directly affects social stability. Therefore, public awareness in this direction should be further stepped up. The consequences of climate change must be addressed collectively and steps must be taken to reduce risks.
Recalling that his country had suffered from war, armed conflict, destruction and death, Abdullatif Jamal Rashid noted that peace was possible only through dialogue and cooperation. In this regard, Iraq is ready to contribute to regional security and global energy security.
Speaking about the principles of the Non-Aligned Movement, the President of Iraq pointed out that mutual respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states, refraining from aggressive actions, non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, living together in peace and other principles were still relevant today.
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Head of the Presidency Council of the State of Libya Mohamed Younis al-Menfi thanked Azerbaijan for its efforts and contributions to the development of the Non-Aligned Movement and to enhancing its international reputation, as well as for its successful chairmanship of this organization. He noted that the COVID-19 pandemic had had more serious consequences for humanity than most international conflicts. The Head of the Presidency Council called on all countries to support the resolution of the ongoing conflict in Libya and the development of this country. Mohamed Younis al-Menfi said Libya remained committed to cooperation aimed at the development of mutual relations.
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President of Turkmenistan Serdar Berdimuhamedov emphasized that the results of the coronavirus pandemic had a serious impact on the development of all countries in political, economic and other fields. The President of Turkmenistan noted the importance of states joining their efforts and developing cooperation in all fields in order to eliminate the consequences of the pandemic in a short period of time. For this purpose, President Serdar Berdimuhamedov proposed the creation of a joint platform for exchanging ideas and defining joint mechanisms. The head of state emphasized the importance of involving scientific and educational institutions in this process, along with the parliaments and relevant institutions of the member countries.
President Serdar Berdimuhamedov expressed his gratitude to the state of Azerbaijan for successfully chairing the Non-Aligned Movement and for the important initiatives it had put forward in the direction of achieving the ahead of the organization.
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Chairwoman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Željka Cvijanović expressed her gratitude to the Chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, for the invitation to participate in the Summit. She said that issues such as peace, stability and cooperation, which the world needed when the Non-Aligned Movement was created, still remained relevant. Željka Cvijanović said that the coronavirus pandemic had caused long-term negative impacts, noting the human losses, difficulties in the health system and other areas. She also said that the economic problems at the global level and in countries, especially poor ones, had led to a more profound recession.
Considering the role of the Non-Aligned Movement as commendable, Željka Cvijanović said the Movement had made great effort to prevent the coronavirus pandemic. She noted that many other topics were also relevant after the COVID-19 pandemic. “There are great challenges, and they have not diminished or disappeared.” Željka Cvijanović expressed her confidence that the Summit would attract the attention of the world community to the recovery processes in the post-pandemic period.
The Chairwoman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina emphasized that international order should be based on the principles of peace and stability. “The Non-Aligned Movement can continue to do so despite global changes. In this regard, it is very important to strengthen the cooperation among member countries of the Movement.”
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The Summit continued with plenary sessions chaired by Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan Jeyhun Bayramov.
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The Summit was attended by heads of state and government of about 70 countries, including presidents of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Iraq, Libya, vice presidents of Cuba, Gabon, Tanzania, prime ministers of Algeria and Kenya, high-level representatives of various countries, heads of international organizations – Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization (WTO) Zurab Pololikashvili, Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) António Vitorino, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva (UN Geneva) Tatiana Valovaya, Secretary General of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) Khusrav Noziri, as well as ministers, deputy ministers, ambassadors and others.
Azerbaijan today is not only represented in a number of international institutions as a member state, but is also closely involved in the adoption and implementation of many decisions. The Non-Aligned Movement, an important political platform for the establishment and development of effective cooperation among 120 countries of the world, is experiencing its most successful period during the chairmanship of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan, which has become a leading actor in the region and is becoming increasingly influential in the world, has been chairing the Non-Aligned Movement for a period of three years since 2019. Despite the fact that Azerbaijan’s chairmanship coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic, Baku assumed the role of global leadership at a time when most of the world’s countries were locked, and became one of the first states to promote international solidarity and cooperation in tackling the global problem. It was under the chairmanship of Azerbaijan that the Non-Aligned Movement mobilized the world community in the fight against the pandemic. On the initiative of President Ilham Aliyev, an online Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in response to COVID-19 was held in May 2020. In December of the same year, a Special Session of the UN General Assembly dedicated to the fight against the pandemic was organized. This session is considered the most global event in the fight against the pandemic. On the initiative of Azerbaijan, resolutions on the fair distribution of vaccines were adopted both in the UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council.
One of the major successes of Azerbaijan’s chairmanship has been the establishment of the National Assembly. During the chairmanship of Azerbaijan, the Parliamentary Network of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Youth Organization were established. For the first time in the 61-year history of the Movement, a Youth Organization was established in Shusha, bringing together the youth of the Movement’s member countries.
In addition to this, its membership and chairmanship of the Non-Aligned Movement has earned Azerbaijan strong international support in the fight against Armenia’s aggression. It is no coincidence that the biased initiatives against Azerbaijan in the UN Security Council in 2020 and 2022 were thwarted by member states of the Movement.
As a result of the full confidence of the countries of the Non-Aligned Movement in Azerbaijan, and based on a unanimous opinion of member states, Azerbaijan’s chairmanship of the organization was extended for another year, i.e. until the end of 2023. The Summit-level Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement Contact Group in response to COVID-19 being held in Baku today once again shows that Azerbaijan is making an important contribution to the activities of the organization. At the same time, the fact that Azerbaijan is once again hosting an important meeting where global issues are to be discussed is a manifestation of the importance the country attaches to multilateralism and global solidarity.