AZERI OBSERVER EDITORIAL STAFF
On April 22-23, 2022, Shusha hosted the 5th Congress of World Azerbaijanis. The city, long-considered the cultural capital of Azerbaijan and recently declared the cultural capital of the Turkic world for 2023, was the perfect setting for this historic meeting.
The major point that distinguished this congress from other ones was that for the first time in the history of the congresses of world Azerbaijanis, held since 2001, the supreme event was held in Karabakh, in Shusha, liberated from Armenian occupation as a result of the Second Karabakh War. It is no coincidence that the 5th Congress was also entitled the Victory Congress.
Entitled the “Conservatory of the Caucasus”, the city, which turns 270 this year, has given Azerbaijan numerous famous figures of culture and art. Among them are, the founder of the professional music of Azerbaijan, the author of the national anthem, Uzeyir Hajibayli, and the founder of the professional vocal art of Azerbaijan, Bulbul. The venue for the 5th Congress of World Azerbaijanis was the Shusha Realny School, where these luminaries once studied, but was destroyed by the Armenian occupiers during the 30-year occupation.
The decision to hold the congress in Shusha was inspired by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Mr. Ilham Aliyev. The head of state stated this in his speech at the congress: “I was informed about the start of preparations for the 5th Congress, and I said that this congress must definitely be held in Shusha. I am sure that the congress participants have also welcomed this idea and have come to Shusha, ancient Shusha, the capital of our culture, with great enthusiasm. Shusha also greets its dear people with such sunny weather, which once again shows that this is our historical land. Even nature and the sun are in solidarity with us.”
The President stressed that the Azerbaijani people had been persistently striving for a peaceful settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict for 30 years and that peace negotiations were underway to prevent war. “I have repeatedly said, including at the congresses of World Azerbaijanis held after the first Congress, that we will never put up with this occupation. We will liberate our ancestral lands from occupation at any cost. But I really wanted this issue to be resolved peacefully, not through war, because I believed that this issue could be resolved peacefully. The norms and principles of international law supported the position of our country. The world’s leading international organizations passed decisions and resolutions supporting Azerbaijan’s position based on justice. Armenia’s policy of aggression was no longer a secret to anyone in the world. At the same time, after the balance of power between Azerbaijan and Armenia had changed dramatically in our favor, I thought that the Armenian leadership would finally realize that they had no resources to compete with us – political, economic or human. I thought that Armenia would finally come to its senses and understand that in a 21st-century world, it is impossible to occupy a large part of the territory of a neighboring state. Unfortunately, the Armenian leadership, as well as the international community and international organizations, were of a different opinion, and the protracted negotiations, which lasted almost 30 years, were simply aimed at perpetuating this occupation, covering up Armenia’s policy of aggression and making us come to terms with this painful situation. Of course, we could never agree to that, and our resolve, determination and heroism on the battlefield proved this again. We didn’t wage war only with Armenia. We didn’t wage war only with the Armenians of the world, we fought against Armenia’s patrons, and we have won this war. Therefore, the historic significance of this victory is even greater,” President Aliyev said.
In his speech, the head of state also spoke about the determination of the Azerbaijani soldier to fight: “Most of those martyred in the Second Karabakh War were younger generation members. None of them had been to Karabakh, they had never seen this land, but the national spirit, justice and love for their country living in their hearts led them to death. We showed the whole world how to fight in the 21st century, how to fight with dignity, how to fight in modern ways, and in a matter of 44 days, the Armenian army was completely destroyed.”
President Ilham Aliyev emphasized the importance of the Shusha battles in ending the 44-day Second Karabakh War: “In other words, the Azerbaijani soldier put an end to the conflict – the heroic Azerbaijani soldier. The last events of the war unfolded here in Shusha. Climbing the steep cliffs, our heroic soldiers and officers defeated the Armenian army, which was armed with cannons, tanks and artillery, in a face-to-face fight.”
Having warned the political forces in Armenia with revanchist slogans by saying “Remember the bitter consequences of the 44-day war!”, the President stated that Azerbaijan had proposed a peace agreement to Armenia: “We put forward a proposal consisting of five specific principles, and Armenia has accepted these five principles. Thus, the Armenian leadership has officially stated that it recognizes the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and has no territorial claims to Azerbaijan and will not do so in the future. This is an essential moment for the post-conflict period, and we intend to conduct further negotiations based on these five principles. The talks should not be delayed because a peace agreement will be signed based on these five principles. Therefore, the text of the agreement can be prepared and signed soon. Thus, the relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan can be established, including diplomatic. By making this proposal, we once again show our good intentions and, I repeat, show foresight. The revengeful forces occasionally raising their voices in Armenia should remember that this is the only way out for Armenia, their last chance perhaps.”
President Ilham Aliyev highly appreciated the coordination of Azerbaijani diaspora organizations abroad with the State Committee on Work with Diaspora: “Of course, I am delighted that our diaspora organizations operating abroad are in constant contact with Azerbaijan, in contact with the State Committee, and coordination between diaspora organizations operating in different countries is improving. This is also very important. Of course, all of us – Azerbaijanis living in Azerbaijan – want Azerbaijanis living abroad to be in close contact with their historical homeland. It would be great if the Azerbaijanis could come to Azerbaijan with their family at least once a year – especially to the liberated lands.”
The President also assessed the activities of the Azerbaijani diaspora since the 4th Congress and gave recommendations for future activities. The last phrases of the President’s speech are undoubtedly addressed to people living in Armenia who are thirsting for revanchism: “We are holding our heads high now, with a smile on our faces, which will always be the case. I am fully convinced that from now on, the Azerbaijani people will forever live as victorious people, and the Azerbaijani state will forever live as a victorious state. We are on our land, we stand firm on this land, and no one will ever be able to force us off these lands.”
Fuad Muradov, Chairman of the State Committee on Work with Diaspora, moderated the first panel session of the Congress on the topic “Tasks facing the Azerbaijani diaspora in the post-war period, action plan/road map”. Hikmat Hajiyev – Assistant to the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Head of the Department of Foreign Policy Affairs of the Presidential Administration of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Farah Aliyeva – Head of the Department of Humanitarian Policy, Diaspora, Multiculturalism and Religious Issues of the Presidential Administration of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Nuran Abdullayev – Chairman of the German Azerbaijanis Alliance, Nariman Gurbanov – Chairman of the Union of Azerbaijani Entrepreneurs of Georgia, Simuzar Baloghlanova – head of “Sara Khatun” Female Society in the United Kingdom, and Sevil Nuriyeva, foreign policy writer and research journalist for the Turkish “Star” newspaper delivered speeches at the panel session.
Elshad Aliyev, Deputy Chairman of the State Committee on Work with Diaspora, moderated the second panel session on the topic “The contribution of the Azerbaijani Diaspora to the restoration and reconstruction of Karabakh”. Special Representative of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Assistant to the First Vice President Emin Huseynov, First Deputy Minister of Economy Elnur Aliyev, Chairman of the Executive Board of Karabakh Revival Fund Rahman Haji, Professor at the University of Copenhagen and Chief Consultant in Neurology, Head of the International Headache Society and Director of the Human Migraine Research Association, member of the Board of Trustees of the YASHAT Foundation, active member of the Azerbaijani diaspora in Denmark, professor of Azerbaijani medicine Masud Ashina, founder of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund Association of Azerbaijani Employees Bakhtiyar Karimov, head of the Department of International Relations of St. Petersburg State University Niyazi Niyazov, member of Center for the Azerbaijani Community of Florida, and Council of the Coordinating Council of Azerbaijanis of America Esmira Bayramova, spoke at the panel session.
It should be noted that at the 5th Congress of World Azerbaijanis in Shusha, a number of diaspora activists were granted with various state awards. On the eve of the congress, by the Order of President Aliyev, 23 diaspora activists were awarded for their merits in strengthening friendship between peoples and developing the Azerbaijani diaspora, including two persons with the honorary title of Honored Scientist, two persons with the Honorary Diploma of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, eight persons with the Order of Friendship and 11 persons with the medal “Progress”. The awarding of such a number of diaspora activists is the first event of its kind in the history of the Congress of World Azerbaijanis.
As a result of the debates, the final documents of the Congress – a Resolution of the Congress, an Appeal by representatives of the 5th Congress of World Azerbaijanis to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, an Appeal by representatives of the 5th Congress of World Azerbaijanis to the world Azerbaijanis, an Appeal by the 5th Congress of World Azerbaijanis to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as well as to the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), an Appeal by the 5th Congress of World Azerbaijanis to the international community regarding the problem of mines created by Armenia in the liberated territories of Azerbaijan, were unanimously adopted.
The event approved the new composition of the Coordinating Council of World Azerbaijanis. The Congress participants elected President Ilham Aliyev as a Chairman of the Council, while Fuad Muradov, Chairman of the State Committee on Work with Diaspora, was elected its Executive Secretary.