Baku: Demining pivotal for regional peace [PHOTO]
By Vugar Khalilov
Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Leyla Abdullayeva has said that humanitarian mine action is vital for ensuring regional peace.
She made the remarks at a conference on "Humanitarian mine action and sustainable development goals (SDGs)" co-organized by the Azerbaijan Mine Action Agency (ANAMA) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Baku on April 1.
"Humanitarian demining is very important in terms of ensuring peace, stability and security in the region. As you know, Azerbaijan is carrying out large-scale restoration and reconstruction work in the liberated territories. It is important to clear the area of mines so that people can return to their native lands safely and with dignity," Abdullayeva said.
She emphasized that Armenia had illegally planted mines on formerly occupied Azerbaijani territory for 30 years.
Demining as priority
The Azerbaijani government has made demining a priority, allocating large sums of money to these activities in liberated areas, the spokesperson said.
“Pleased to be a panelist at the 'Humanitarian demining & SDGs Conference' organized by ANAMA and UNDP Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan as one of the most landmine-contaminated states in the world draws international attention to this global threat on the eve of Mine Awareness Day,” Abdullayeva tweeted.
Mines must be deemed as hazardous as chemical and biological weapons, according to Hikmet Chetin, a former Turkish Foreign minister and politician, who attended the conference.
"The UN recognizes mines as dangerous as chemical and biological weapons and should intensify its efforts in this area. I believe that this conference is important for cooperation in the sphere of de-mining," Chetin stressed.
He described demining as an important obligation.
ANAMA, partners sign mine clearance documents
ANAMA Board Chairman Vugar Suleymanov said at the conference that mines continue to endanger people's lives, security, and development, and this is a global issue.
Mines continue to endanger people's lives, security, and development, and this is a problem that must be addressed at the global level, he added.
“This conference provides a good platform for cooperation, sharing and learning, bringing together 150 participants from 34 countries,” the chairman stressed.
As part of the conference on "Humanitarian mine action and sustainable development goals (SDGs)", memorandums of understanding were signed between the Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA) and a number of foreign organizations.
The documents were signed with ANAMA by the following organizations: The Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH) (Turkey), "ENERGOTRANSPROYEKT" scientific research and design-research institute of energy and transport (Russia), Turkish NGO Humanitarian Action Association (IMFAD) and Enhancing Human Security (ITF) (Slovenia).
It should be noted that the conference, in a hybrid format, brings together key figures from the international community, mine operations operators, government agencies, and civil society to discuss the importance of humanitarian demining activities in mitigating mine threats to human life and normal living conditions.
The event will investigate the potential of humanitarian demining activities for long-term peace and socio-economic development, as well as the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 16th Sustainable Development Goals, which aim to significantly reduce all forms of violence and related deaths globally.
In particular, the significance of demining in the restoration of Azerbaijan's liberated lands will be evaluated and information on the country's large-scale demining activity will be provided.
ANAMA, in collaboration with partner countries, conducts demining operations on Azerbaijan's liberated territories. The State Border Service and the Defence Ministry also demine the liberated lands.
Armenia deliberately and constantly planted mines on Azerbaijani territories, in violation of the 1949 Geneva Convention, thereby being a major threat to regional peace, security and cooperation.
Armenia submitted to Azerbaijan all mine maps of liberated territories as a result of talks held through the Russian Defence Ministry's mediation on December 4, 2021.
Previously, on June 12, Azerbaijan handed over 15 Armenian prisoners in exchange for a map detailing the location of 97,000 mines in formerly-occupied Aghdam.
On July 3, Armenia submitted to Azerbaijan maps of about 92,000 anti-tank and anti-personnel mines planted during the occupation of Fuzuli and Zangilan regions.
Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a Russia-brokered peace agreement on November 10, 2020, to end 44 days of fighting and work toward a comprehensive resolution.