Ilham Aliyev: Azerbaijan continues contributing to human development in Syria

 Ilham Aliyev: Azerbaijan continues contributing to human development in Syria

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev addressed the 'Supporting Syria and the Region’ conference in London yesterday. He noted that Azerbaijan is among the countries that have already contributed and will contribute to human development in Syria.

"We are very sorry for the situation of Syrian refugees," the president said, recalling that "in the early 1990s, when neighboring Armenia unleashed aggression against Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan suffered a humanitarian disaster and crisis." "As a result of Armenian aggression, 20% of the internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan has been occupied. We were subjected to ethnic cleansing. More than one million Azerbaijanis became refugees and internally displaced persons," Ilham Aliyev said.

"At that time, our country was very young and poor. One million of the eight million people – the highest rate in the number of refugees per capita – were at that time jobless and homeless and had been deprived of opportunities in life," he added. "We are grateful to the international humanitarian organizations, in particular the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, that supported us in a difficult moment of our history," the president said.

"In 1994, Azerbaijan and Armenia established a ceasefire. Unfortunately, since that time, serious progress on the settlement of the conflict has not been reached at the negotiating table," he stated. "Despite the fact that the UN Security Council adopted four resolutions demanding the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian armed forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, for more than 20 years Armenia has ignored these resolutions," Ilham Aliyev noted.

He stressed that the achievement of the ceasefire agreement in 1994 provided the country with the opportunity to develop.

"Since then, the development of Azerbaijan has been rapid. We have provided 250 thousand refugees with the necessary living conditions. The literacy rate in our country, including refugees, is 100%. Ten years ago, about 70% of refugees lived in poverty. And now the poverty rate among refugees is only 12%. In general, unemployment and poverty make up 5%," the head of state informed. He explained that he brought these figures to show that "the country can grow and cope with great difficulties only in conditions of peace and stability."

Ilham Aliyev said that Azerbaijan is a donor country. "Azerbaijan is among the countries that have already contributed and will contribute to human development in Syria. But the most important is peace, a ceasefire, the search for a political solution," he believes. "Only after that will new jobs be created, education will be at the desired level, and people will begin to believe in their future," the President added.

"We can share our experience in the creation of jobs. Over the past ten years in Azerbaijan 1.5 million jobs have been created. We can also share our experience in the field of education. In our country more than 3000 schools have been built and, as I said, will reach 100% literacy rate. We can also share our experiences of the management of the humanitarian crisis and will do so," the head of state noted.

He stressed that the main thing is peace. "Therefore, to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis as soon as possible is the number one issue on our agenda," Ilham Aliyev said. He expressed confidence that these "discussions will play an important role in the search for a political solution." "Azerbaijan, as a country having financial and economic capacity, could achieve this not in terms of peace, but only a ceasefire," Trend cited him as saying.

"Of course, we will continue to support our brothers and sisters in Syria. We are grateful to the countries assuming such a big load on the admission of Syrian refugees. I would like to note once again that we have come here to promote peace and similar values. From this point of view, Azerbaijan will continue to play its important role," Ilham Aliyev concluded.