Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State of Organization of Turkic States gets underway in Ankara President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev is attending the Summit
Ankara, March 16, AZERTAC
Initiated by President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, the Extraordinary Summit of the Heads of State of the Organization of Turkic States has today kicked off in Ankara.
President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev is attending the event.
President of the Republic of Türkiye Recep Tayyip Erdogan welcomed President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, other heads of state and government.
Then, a family photo was taken.
The President of Azerbaijan addressed the Summit.
Speech by President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev
- My dear brother, distinguished President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Dear heads of state and government, dear friends.
We were deeply saddened by the consequences of the powerful earthquake that caused the deaths and injuries of many people in brotherly Türkiye. This devastating earthquake killed tens of thousands of people. My dear brother, on behalf of the people of Azerbaijan, I once again offer my profound condolences to you, the families and loved ones of the victims, and the brotherly people of Türkiye, and wish the injured a speedy recovery.
The government and people of Azerbaijan were mobilized to provide humanitarian aid to brotherly Türkiye the moment the earthquake struck. 940 people from Azerbaijan, including rescue workers, medical personnel and volunteers, were dispatched to the earthquake region. Azerbaijan topped the list of countries worldwide for the number of rescuers sent to Türkiye. Thanks to the efforts of our rescue workers and doctors, 53 people were saved from under the rubble. Also, the bodies of 780 people were found. Our medical personnel provided medical assistance to more than 3,000 people.
To date, more than 45 million US dollars have been transferred into the bank accounts of AFAD and other humanitarian organizations. In addition, 5,300 tons of humanitarian aid was delivered to brotherly Türkiye.
Azerbaijan and Türkiye have always been by each other's side on both joyful and somber days. And it will continue to be the case in the future too.
I am confident that thanks to the leadership of my dear brother, distinguished President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Türkiye will overcome the consequences of this earthquake.
The political, diplomatic and moral support of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for Azerbaijan from the first hours of the Second Karabakh War to the last day in 2020 gave us extra strength.
In the meantime, during the 44-day war, the entire Turkish people stood with Azerbaijan. Thousands of support and congratulatory messages from Türkiye came both during the war and after our historic Victory.
In June 2021, the Shusha Declaration between Türkiye and Azerbaijan was signed in the city of Shusha, the crown jewel of Karabakh, and our relations were officially raised to the level of an alliance.
In the last 20 years, under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Türkiye has covered a tremendous and glorious path, Türkiye has gained a say in the whole world, and has become a powerhouse. Today, Türkiye is reckoned with and respected all over the globe.
Everyone in the world now sees Türkiye's military power and tremendous successes in the defense industry. Thanks to the leadership of my dear brother, continuous stability in Türkiye over these years and the country's development are essential for the entire Turkic world.
The awarding of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with the Supreme Order of the Turkic World at the Summit of the Organization of Turkic States in Samarkand in 2022 is further evidence of his significant contributions to the strengthening of the Turkic world. I am sure my dear brother will make even more outstanding contributions to the further strengthening relations established based on brotherhood between our countries for many years to come.
During the 30 years of occupation, hundreds of our cities and villages, historical and religious sites and cemeteries were deliberately destroyed by Armenia. Foreign experts describe the destroyed city of Aghdam as a “Hiroshima of the Caucasus.” The Armenians destroyed 65 out of 67 mosques in Karabakh and East Zangezur, and the remaining two were used as pig and cow sheds.
Our natural resources were plundered, and the environment was gravely damaged.
As a result of the first Karabakh war, about 4,000 of our citizens went missing, and almost all were tortured and killed. After the liberation of our lands, we discovered mass graves in several locations. Armenia still avoids providing information about the fate of the missing Azerbaijanis.
Because of the Armenian occupation, Azerbaijan is now among the countries most contaminated with landmines. After the Second Karabakh War, i.e., since November 2020, nearly 300 Azerbaijanis have been killed or seriously injured in the aftermath of mine explosions.
Although Armenia recognized Azerbaijan's territorial integrity and sovereignty in Prague and Sochi in 2022, it has not yet fully withdrawn its troops from the territory of Azerbaijan. Illegal Armenian detachments and criminal elements still remain in Karabakh. Armenia also evades the obligation to open the Zangezur corridor.
Therefore, Armenia flagrantly violates the Statement signed on November 10, 2020, and should be held accountable.
After the liberation of Karabakh and East Zangezur from Armenian occupation in 2020, Azerbaijan launched large-scale reconstruction work in these areas. Azerbaijan is restoring life in vast areas Armenia has completely destroyed. We are building nine new cities and initially more than 300 villages and towns from scratch.
This is a rare and unprecedented model of post-conflict reconstruction by a national government using its own financial resources. In 2021-2022, the state of Azerbaijan spent about 4 billion US dollars on reconstruction in liberated areas. This year, we plan to allocate at least 1.7 billion US dollars. We have started implementing the “Great Return” program to return former internally displaced persons to their homelands.
Turkish companies are actively involved in many infrastructure projects as contractors in the reconstruction process. To date, contracts worth more than 3 billion USD have been signed with Turkish companies. My dear brother Recep Tayyip Erdogan has visited the liberated lands three times. He has been to Shusha, Fuzuli, Zangilan and Jabrayil.
Taking this opportunity, I express my gratitude to the President of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, and the President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, for the school being built by Uzbekistan and the creative center under construction by Kazakhstan in the liberated Fuzuli district.
At the same time, I would like to inform you that the Azerbaijan-Uzbekistan Investment Fund and the Azerbaijan-Kyrgyz Development Fund have been recently established.
The Turkic world is not limited to the borders of Turkic states. The Turkic world covers a more extensive geography. The number of Azerbaijanis living in the world exceeds 50 million, and only 10 million live in the independent Republic of Azerbaijan.
The state of Azerbaijan pays special attention to ensuring the rights and freedoms, and safety of Azerbaijanis living in foreign countries and to their preservation of our language and culture. Unfortunately, the majority of more than 40 million Azerbaijanis living outside the borders of the state of Azerbaijan are deprived of the opportunity to study in their mother tongue.
The decision of the Soviet government in November 1920 to separate West Zangezur, our historical land, from Azerbaijan and hand it over to Armenia led to the geographical separation of the Turkic world. By 1991, all Azerbaijanis were driven out forcefully of the territory of present-day Armenia.
As in Karabakh and East Zangezur, Armenia has also destroyed our cultural heritage, mosques and historical sites in present-day Armenia – in Western Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani community has repeatedly appealed to UNESCO to send a fact-finding mission to monitor the Azerbaijani people's cultural heritage in present-day Armenia and expects a positive response from UNESCO.
Our fellow compatriots suffered from ethnic cleansing in Western Azerbaijan have now united in the Western Azerbaijan Community. They have set the goal of a peaceful return to their historical lands. According to the Concept of Return developed by the Western Azerbaijan Community, an international legally binding agreement with an appropriate verification and guarantee mechanism for the return of Azerbaijanis expelled from the territory of present-day Armenia should be put in place.
Just as we, the state of Azerbaijan, will guarantee the individual rights and security of the Armenian residents living in Karabakh, Armenia must guarantee the rights and security of the Western Azerbaijanis based on the principle of reciprocity.
At the end of my speech as the initiator of this Summit, I suggest that, along with official summits, an informal summit be held every year in the historical cities of our countries. This will serve to bring Turkic states even closer together.
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The event was initially due to be held in Shusha. However, following the devastating earthquake in Türkiye, President Ilham Aliyev put forward a proposal to hold the Summit in Ankara in an effort to support the brotherly country. After coordination of the matter with the leaders of other participating countries, the relevant decision was made. This is yet another clear example of the Azerbaijan-Türkiye brotherhood, as well as a sign of mutual support and respect in the Turkic world.
Devoted to the theme of “Disaster-Emergency Management and Humanitarian Assistance”, the Summit will serve as a high-level platform for the discussion of the extraordinary agenda of the Organization aroused due to the recent earthquake disaster happened in southern and southeastern regions of Türkiye. The leaders will elaborate on devising solid multilateral cooperation and coordination mechanisms within the framework of the Organization in the fight against disasters as well as hold consultations on current challenges in the region.