Ihsanoglu: Armenia Must End Occupation Of Azerbaijani Lands
"The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) does not and cannot accept the aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan and occupation of Azerbaijani lands," OIC Secretary General Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said in an exclusive interview with Trend.
"In order to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Armenia must first withdraw from the occupied Azerbaijani lands and displaced persons should return to their land," Ihsanoglu said.
He said the OIC believes that the conflict settlement should occur step-by-step. The first stage of the conflict was the occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh by Armenians and accordingly, the first step of the settlement should be ending the occupation of this territory.
He recalled that the OIC like the UN has adopted several resolutions on this conflict which also have not yet been implemented by Armenia so far.
"Armenia's aggression took place before the eyes of the world and all humanity witnessed the occupation of Azerbaijani territory. This conflict should not be delayed further.
Continued occupation harms the entire region and Armenia. Resolving this issue will bring peace to the whole world. A phased resolution of this problem would be the most effective," Ihsanoglu said.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 per cent of Azerbaijan since 1992, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts. Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994.
The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group - Russia, France and the US - are currently holding peace negotiations.
Armenia has not yet implemented the U.N. Security Council's four resolutions on the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding regions.
Commenting on his current visit to Azerbaijan, OIC Secretary General said that his visit is an indicator of developed relations between Azerbaijan and the OIC.
"Last time I was in Azerbaijan in 2009 and I have thought for some time that it is necessary to visit your country again, especially that since 2005 Azerbaijan has been an active participant in the OIC," Ihsanoglu said.
He said after a meeting of the foreign ministers of the OIC member states in Azerbaijan in 2006 that the country had begun to play a very active and indispensable role in the organisation. Undoubtedly, Azerbaijan's role in the organisation would grow day by day and the potential of bilateral relations should be developed, he said.
The OIC was very pleased with Azerbaijan's election to the UN Security Council and indeed the country's developed relations with the organisation contributed to this status, Ihsanoglu said.
He also stressed that the meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, held yesterday was very fruitful.
"We discussed ways of developing OIC relations with Azerbaijan and problems of the Islamic world, Afghanistan, Syria and Somalia," Ihsanoglu said.
He said that in 2013 Azerbaijan will host the 2nd International Congress on 'Islamic Civilisation in the Caucasus'. The first was held in 1998 under President Heydar Aliyev.
"This is a very important scientific congress which will be attended by representatives from all over the world. The history of Islam in the Caucasus since its inception to the present day will be discussed. The history, culture, architecture and the future of Islam in the Caucasus will also be discussed," he said.
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