By Vafa Ismayilova
President Ilham Aliyev has invited the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) countries to participate in the rehabilitation of Azerbaijani territories liberated from Armenia’s occupation in 2020.
He made the remarks in the online Second OIC Summit on Science and Technology held on June 16.
“I have declared all the liberated territories of Azerbaijan as a green energy zone. We will use the most advanced and innovative technologies in the restoration and reconstruction of liberated territories. The smart city and smart village concepts will be applied. We would like to see companies from brotherly OIC countries participate in the reconstruction process of the liberated territories,” the president said.
Aliyev stressed that Armenia, which has held under its occupation almost 20 percent of Azerbaijani territories, conducted ethnic cleansing against Azerbaijanis. It committed the Khojaly genocide and 13 countries have recognized the mass killings in Khojaly as genocide.
Armenia failed to comply with the demands of the international community, trying to keep the lands under occupation forever. In July, August, and September of 2020, three times, Armenia resorted to military provocations along the state border and the former line of contact, killing innocent civilians and instigating the war. In response to Armenia’s large-scale military attack launched last September, Azerbaijan conducted a counter-attack operation and liberated a large part of occupied territories, he added.
Destruction of Azerbaijani mosques
The president ruled out the possibility of any cooperation between Muslim countries and Armenia in view of the latter’s vandalism against Islamic shrines on Azerbaijan’s formerly occupied territories.
“We observe attempts by Armenia to strengthen its relations with Islamic countries. A country that used our mosques as stables for pigs and cows and insulted the feelings of all Ummah cannot be a friend of Muslim countries and Muslims,” he said.
He stressed that during the occupation, Armenia deliberately destroyed Azerbaijan’s all cultural and religious sites. Out of 67 mosques, 65 were razed to the ground and the remaining two were severely damaged and desecrated.
“I will send to my colleagues an illustrative book which contains brief info and photos of our towns and villages before and after the occupation reflecting the total devastation and destruction of all religious and historic monuments of Azerbaijan,” he said.
The president recalled that in its resolutions, the OIC strongly condemned the destruction and desecration of Islamic historical and cultural relics and shrines by Armenia in Azerbaijan’s formerly occupied territories.
Aliyev highly appreciated “the resolute stance demonstrated during the war by the OIC” and particularly thanked Turkey, Pakistan and Afghanistan for the expressed political support to Azerbaijan from the first days of the war.
Scientific, technological progress
The president said that the development of scientific and technological potential was among Azerbaijan’s top priorities.
“Since the topic of today’s summit is about science and technology, I would like to highlight that strengthening the scientific and technological potential of the country is among our top priorities. Azerbaijan is a member of the international space club. Today, we have three satellites - two for telecommunication and one earth observation satellite,” Aliyev said.
He stressed that Azerbaijan was selected to host International Astronautical Congress to be held in 2023.
“It is a sign of recognition of Azerbaijan’s achievements in this sphere by the international space community. Recently, I identified five national priorities on socio-economic development for the next decade of Azerbaijan, one of which envisages creating competitive human capital and space for modern innovations,” he noted.
Speaking about cooperation with OIC countries, Aliyev said that Azerbaijan is an active member of the OIC family and closely cooperates with member states both bilaterally and within international organizations.
“Over the past few years, about 10 meetings of the ministers of foreign affairs, culture, tourism, education, labour and other ministers of the OIC member countries have been held in Azerbaijan,” he said.
The president emphasized that Azerbaijan has always made efforts to strengthen solidarity among Islamic countries, one reflection of which was hosting the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games in 2017 with the participation of 54 states. He noted that Azerbaijan has also launched a scholarship program for citizens of the OIC member states to study in our country.
“We highly appreciate the consistent support of the OIC for the just position of Azerbaijan with regard to Armenia’s military aggression. Since the Casablanca Summit of the OIC in 1994, over 80 resolutions have been adopted condemning the aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan, and supporting our sovereignty and territorial integrity. The establishment of the OIC Contact Group on the aggression of the Republic of Armenia against the Republic of Azerbaijan in 2016 needs to be particularly mentioned to this end,” he stressed.
The head of state noted that Azerbaijan has always supported the OIC member states, and strived for ensuring stronger solidarity and cooperation among Islamic countries.
Aliyev said that the COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for the world. He noted that Azerbaijan has made voluntary financial contributions to the World Health Organization in the amount of $10 million and provided humanitarian and financial assistance to more than 30 countries, including a number of OIC Member States with respect to the coronavirus.
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