Speaker of the Azerbaijani Parliament Sahiba Gafarova has met with a delegation led by Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Affairs and Foreign Trade and the Federal Cultural Institutions of the Kingdom of Belgium Hadja Lahbib.
Sahiba Gafarova spoke of the inter-parliamentary relations as one of the staples of the links between Azerbaijan and Belgium before she gave an overview of the current situation in the country and the region.
She noted that Azerbaijan liberated its lands from the 30-year-long Armenian occupation as a result of the 44-day Patriotic War of 2020. Having restored its territorial integrity and despite being a victim of invasion and occupation, Azerbaijan came up with a peace initiative aiming to bring lasting peace and stability to the South Caucasus and normalising the relations with Armenia in line with international law standards and principles.
Sahiba Gafarova moved on to the large-scale restoration and reconstruction started by Azerbaijan in the de-occupied lands, that modern towns and villages are under construction in the freed territories including Garabagh and East Zangazur. The Big Return programme devised to bring the former IDPs back to their homelands has been geared into motion already. Unfortunately, though, the facts that the rights of the Azerbaijani IDPs had been trampled down for 30 years and they could not return to the native land,s were largely cold-shouldered by the international community. This indifference signals double standards, themselves rooted in many factors, in no small way in the propaganda of the Armenian Lobby and the islamophobia.
Speaker Gafarova also highlighted the Armenian mass mining of Azerbaijani territories, the biggest obstacle to the re-construction of the liberated territories.
The Lachin Road is part of the Azerbaijani territory, of course, and the Azerbaijan Republic acted in accordance with the international norms and executed her sovereign right when it installed a border checkpoint on that road in April 2023. Azerbaijan suggested that the Aghdam-Khankandi road should be used to carry humanitarian supplies to Khankandi and the surrounding villages, and this suggestion found support eventually. Regrettably, though, Armenia simply would not use that road. The Armenian residents of Garabagh happen to be citizens of Azerbaijan and the country is taking necessary steps to reintegrate them into the Azerbaijani society. President Ilham Aliyev has declared time and again that the Armenians living in Garabagh are our citizens poised to enjoy all the rights bestowed on all the other citizens of the country. The absurd claims of Armenia about ‘a tense humanitarian situation’ in the Garabagh Region and its Armenian population being short of food products and medicines are only intended to mislead the international community and target the territorial wholeness and sovereignty of Azerbaijan, according to Sahiba Gafarova.
The Speaker noted that it is surprising that Armenia, which had not respected the UN Security Council resolutions for nearly 30 years and continued to keep Azerbaijani lands under occupation in defiance of the documents of all international organisations, again, the UN Security Council, should be bringing the issue of Lachin up before the Council. This is sheer hypocrisy, in the opinion of the leader of the Azerbaijani legislature.
The people of Azerbaijan want peace and stability. The peace treaty proposed by Azerbaijan has not been signed though the war ended three years ago. And it has not been, because Armenia is keen to delay the process. It is not bravery to announce you recognise the territorial integrity of another country; rather, this is simply meeting a requirement of the international law. Azerbaijan is busy restoring all the liberated towns and provinces and doing this work on such a grand scale is bravery indeed, according to Sahiba Gafarova.
The five lopsided and biased resolutions concerning Azerbaijan that the Belgian Parliament has over the three years past were criticised rather sternly then, with Madam Chair saying that the resolutions had failed to describe the situation in our region accurately. On the other hand, the fact that Belgian MPs had only visited Armenia damaged the balance of relations with the regional states. Azerbaijan invited the leaders of the Belgian Parliament, the head of the friendship group and other MPs to visit the country repeatedly. If anything, such trips would be a fine opportunity to form a clearer and more correct understanding of the state of affairs in the region, Azerbaijan and, especially, in Garabagh, which is also important for getting the right picture of Armenian citizens living in Garabagh and relations with them. If the Belgian MPs come to Azerbaijan, they will see everything for themselves and will go to Shusha and Aghdam – the Aghdam was declared the Hiroshima of the 21st century. Everything had been run into the ground in all the towns and villages and, generally, provinces formerly under the Armenian occupation, after all.
Hadja Lahbib said, in turn, that she was glad to be at the Parliament of Azerbaijan before she told Sahiba Gafarova about the goals of her visit to the country and the meetings she had held.