By Vafa Ismayilova
President Ilham Aliyev has applauded the support given by the Turkic Council (Cooperation Council of Turkic-speaking States) to Azerbaijan before and after the 44-day with Armenia that lasted from September 27 to November 10, 2020.
Aliyev made the remarks at a meeting with Turkic Council Secretary-General Baghdad Amreyev in a video format on January 19. The meeting was held after the delegation consisting of Baghdad Amreyev, TURKSOY (International Organization of Turkish Culture) Secretary-General Dusen Kasseinov, International Turkic Culture and Heritage Foundation President Gunay Efendiyeva visited liberated Aghdam and Fuzuli regions on January 18 and discussed the further restoration of those territories at a meeting with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov on the same day.
"I would like to express my gratitude to you, dear Secretary-General, and also to the head of TURKSOY, for your support during and after the war... During the 44 days, four official statements were made on behalf of the Turkic Council Secretary-General. We appreciate that very much, as well as the fact that you are now in Azerbaijan, that you have visited the liberated territories and seen with your own eyes what you heard about and what you probably saw on TV," Aliyev said.
He thanked Amreyev on behalf of the entire Azerbaijani people.
"The Turkic Council is the organization that supported us most during the war. We are also grateful to other organizations – both the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Non-Aligned Movement. We are grateful to the countries that supported us at this time," the head of state added.
The president stressed that moral and political support in a difficult time means a lot for the Azerbaijani people and for the whole world to learn even more about what was happening.
"One of the results of our victory is that no-one has any doubts whatsoever about what was the cause of the war in the early 1990s, what the results of the occupation are and what the occupiers did on the occupied territories. Therefore, international law, the historical justice of Karabakh belonging to Azerbaijan and what international media and international organizations have already seen with their own eyes prove that we are right, prove what we have been trying to prove for 30 years and ultimately proved by force of arms, on the battlefield, by driving the occupiers from our sacred lands," Aliyev noted.
He added that Azerbaijan will attract to the restoration of liberated lands companies from friendly countries. Aliyev said that this topic will be discussed within the Turkic Council.
"We will analyze what has happened and make plans for the future. But I can already say with confidence that the process of restoration of our territories will also be supported by our fraternal countries. Of course, I count on the active support of TURKSOY in the restoration of our historical and cultural sites, and I am sure of that. Because about 70 mosques in the liberated territories have been destroyed, museums have been looted and the entire social infrastructure has been destroyed," the president said.
Aliyev said that "communicating the atrocities of the occupying forces to the world, especially in terms of the destruction of our cultural-historical heritage will also be the focus of TURKSOY's attention, along with the assistance in terms of restoring our historical and cultural sites. This process has already begun".
Speaking about plans to hold Vagif poetry days and the Khari Bulbul festival and the future active role of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation in restoring Shusha, Aliyev said:
"I think that after its restoration, Shusha with its nature, landscape, history and historical sites can rightfully become the cultural capital of the entire region. Of course, I do hope that you will travel to Shusha during your next visit. We are already building a road there now. An international airport will be opened in the near future, this year. So Shusha will see many international events, will receive friends and brothers, as it has done throughout history," the head of state said.
In turn, Amreyev congratulated Aliyev and the Azerbaijani nation on the victory in the Nagorno-Karabakh war. The Turkic Council secretary-general shared his impressions about the visit and described the sight in destroyed areas as "depressing".
"On 2 November, we were here together with the leaders of the business communities of our countries. We discussed the possibility of the participation of entrepreneurs from our countries in the restoration projects of Azerbaijan. This issue is being actively discussed now. And we will soon hold a major business forum in Baku on the participation of our entrepreneurs in these activities," Amreyev added.
He noted that the delegation visiting Aghdam and Fuzuli also "discussed the possible participation of our organizations in the restoration of cultural sites".
"We will soon carry out relevant work and meetings with our countries – how we will participate in the restoration of these sites together with Azerbaijan. The preliminary negotiations between our countries revealed a deep interest and enthusiasm of our countries and peoples in rendering assistance to Azerbaijan," he said.
Cultural capital of Turkic world in 2022
Amreyev proposed to declare "Shusha the cultural capital of the Turkic world in 2022 – we declare it every year – and hold a lot of cultural events that will emphasize such a great cultural significance of Shusha for the entire Turkic and Islamic world".
He added that the issue in question was discussed with Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov on January 18.
"With your permission, we will start this work. We will hold about 20 cultural events in Shusha in 2022. By this time, we are sure that Shusha will be restored and regain its former appearance. We have always been by your side. We will always be by your side," Amreyev stressed.
He briefed Aliyev of the current agenda of the Turkic Council.
"We have now completed the preparation of the Turkic strategy for 2020-2025 and the Turkic vision for 2020-2040, as per your instructions issued during the Baku summit. This document contains the future vision of the Turkic world, our cooperation, integration in all areas – politics, economy, culture, education, tourism, youth, etc. I have the honour of submitting this ready-made document to you today – a copy of Turkic World Vision-2040. After your approval at the upcoming summit, we will begin the implementation of this document, which was developed during the year in a joint manner, in close coordination with the ministries and departments of member countries of the Turkic Council," he said.
He also spoke about preparations for an informal summit in Turkestan, which was initiated by first Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev due in late March, and for the next Turkic Council summit due in Istanbul in autumn 2021.
"I think that with your support these summits will become another turning point for the development of our integration and the unity of the Turkic world. Mr President, the Turkic Council is always ready to carry out all the necessary work to further deepen our relations. Thank you very much for everything you have done for the Turkic world," he said.
Established in 2009 and currently chaired by Azerbaijan, the Turkic Council is an intergovernmental organization of Turkic Speaking Countries. The founding member states of the organization are Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey. During the seventh summit of the Turkic Council held in Baku in October 2019, Uzbekistan joined the organization as a full member, while during the sixth summit held in Cholpon-Ata (Kyrgyzstan) in September 2018, Hungary received observer status at the organization.
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