A ceremonial dinner in honour of Non-Aligned Movement foreign ministers

On April 5, a ceremonial dinner was hosted at the Heydar Aliyev Centre in honour of Non-Aligned Movement foreign ministers.

First Vice-president of the Republic of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyeva attended the ceremony.

Mehriban Aliyeva addressed the ceremony:

Dear guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good evening.

First of all, I would like to greet you all and say “Welcome to Azerbaijan”, and wish the Ministerial Conference successful discussions.

It is very symbolic that the Conference is dedicated to such a topic: Promoting International Peace and Security for Sustainable Development. Here, at the crossroad between Europe and Asia, different civilizations met throughout the centuries. Azerbaijan was always known as a land of people with different ethnic roots and religions living in peace and harmony.

We have always done our best to promote humanity, dialogue and solidarity. One of the main principles of our policy is to ensure equal rights for all citizens regardless of their ethnic, religious and social backgrounds. This principle was established 100 years ago, in 1918, when Azerbaijan created the first parliamentary republic in the Muslim world. It was the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. At that time, Azerbaijan became the first Muslim country granting political rights to both men and women.

Thanks to its active role in the dialogue between civilizations, today, Azerbaijan is known as one of the world’s multiculturalism centres. Our country organizes various international events to discuss many serious problems faced by the world.

As an example, we can underline the Baku Process that turns 10 years in 2018. You know, that Azerbaijan is one of the rare countries that is the member of both the Council of Europe and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

The Baku Process is aimed at developing dialogue and cooperation between civilizations, peoples and cultures of Islam and the West. We invited ministers of culture of OIC member countries to the meeting of their colleagues from the Council of Europe. For the first time in history, ministers of both organizations met in Baku. Today, the Baku Process continues to develop.

In addition, we can also give the example of the World Intercultural Dialogue Forum supported by such organizations as UN, UNESCO, ISESCO, the Council of Europe and many others.

Unfortunately, Azerbaijan still faces a big unresolved problem. This is Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. As a result of Armenian aggression, almost 20% of the internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan is under Armenian occupation. Nearly one million Azerbaijanis became refugees and IDPs. We wish to solve this conflict by peace. However, Armenia ignores peace efforts and continues its aggression. The conflict must be resolved within the framework of international law and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. The UN Security Council has adopted four resolutions calling for an immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces from Azerbaijani lands. However, Armenia refuses to fulfil them.

Dear friends,

I would like to note that the territorial integrity of our country is clearly recognized by Non-Alignment Movement member countries. This organization has always supported our political position at global level. In this regard, the organization has adopted several resolutions and decisions. I am grateful to you for these decisions.

In 2019, Baku will host the Summit of Non-Alignment countries. For the next three years, Azerbaijan will chair this important organization uniting 120 member states. All of these steps, including this conference in Baku prove once again our successful co-operation.

In spite of the problems we faced in the first years of our independence, Azerbaijan has defined its successful development strategy. Our country has implemented important political and economic reforms.

Using our energy resources, we invest into non-oil sector, human capital and infrastructure. It helps to ensure a sustainable development of our economy.

Dear guests,

Azerbaijan has become a candidate to host World Expo 2025. Our country has been the active member of EXPO movement since 2000. Our national pavilions received awards in 2015 in Milan, in 2016 in Antalya and in 2017 in Astana.

Azerbaijan is ready to host EXPO 2025 at the highest level. Our country has a big experience of organization of large international events. We hosted the inaugural European Games in 2015 and, the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games in 2017. We also demonstrated a high level of professionalism during hosting the Formula 1. As you may know, the Formula 1 race in Baku in 2017 was rated as the most exciting and most unexpected race in the world.

We consider the World Expo as a unique platform for various nations to express their opinions about the most important problems of the world. These exhibitions bring together the entire international community to discuss and cooperate. Having seen our achievements in this field, we believe that we can be the best hosts of such a prestigious event.

We managed to turn a black gold into a human capital. Naturally, we did all of these thanks to the rich human potential of our people.

Today, the impact of technology on humans is one of the main challenges to the world. Therefore, “Developing Human Capital, Building A Better Future” was chosen by us as a topic for EXPO 2025. We will put people … human capital – the world’s most powerful resource – at the centre of universal debate. World Expo in Baku will also offer the organization a chance to engage with new audiences in a new market.

I can say, once our bid will win, Azerbaijan will be the first country in all Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Caspian region to host the World Expo. I hope that you will support our country for EXPO 2025.

Dear quests,

In the end, I express once again our warm welcome to all participants of the ministerial meeting. I hope you will enjoy the rich spirit of our capital and hospitality of our people. I wish you happiness, and your countries peace and prosperity.

Thank you very much.