Sahiba Gafarova Speaks at the Meeting of APA Standing Committee on Social and Cultural Affairs

Sahiba Gafarova Speaks at the Meeting of APA Standing Committee on Social and Cultural Affairs

Sahiba Gafarova Speaks at the Meeting of APA Standing Committee on Social and Cultural Affairs Sahiba Gafarova Speaks at the Meeting of APA Standing Committee on Social and Cultural Affairs

Chair of the Milli Majlis Sahiba Gafarova delivered a speech at the meeting of the Standing Committee on Social and Cultural Affairs of the Asian Parliamentary Assembly (APA) held in Baku on 21 September.

Welcoming the meeting participants cordially, the speaker of the Azerbaijani legislature told them that the APA was the sole organisation uniting Asia’s national parliaments under one co-operative umbrella and that the Milli Majlis was very much keen on promoting this co-operation.

The APA is a platform that is significant in the realm of parliamentary diplomacy for it guides joint efforts being made to solve current problems and address existing challenges for the sake of solidifying co-operation, peace and stability around the world. The APA activities aiming to cement solidarity and promote interaction in various areas across the whole Asian Continent is especially notable, according to Mr Gafarova.

Draft resolutions concerning very many current issues of Asia are to be discussed at the meeting of the Standing Committee on Social and Cultural Affairs today. Among them are such vital regional topics as promotion of cultural diversity and preservation of cultural heritage, the Asian integration via application of information communication technologies, fostering dialogues amongst world religions and collaboration of the legal and legislative branches to discourage the contraband in valuable cultural artefacts.

Besides, there will be another fateful thing to do today – the Committee will table a draft resolution ‘About the Commission on Women’. This document has been motioned and then penned by the delegation of Azerbaijan.

As she spoke about taking certain steps to increase women’s empowerment in today’s world, Speaker Gafarova referred to serious problems in that area despite the countless efforts to remedy the situation in it. It was in view of this that it was proposed to set a Common on Women in the APA, so the problems cited in the draft resolution would be solved ultimately, according to Mrs Gafarova.

It is no coincidence at all that the initiative comes from the political and ideological heir to the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic which granted women the suffrage back in 1918 – for the first time ever in the Muslim East, Mrs Gafarova emphasised before telling her audience that the document stated the reasons for which the new commission would be formed and outlined its goals, functions and operating field.

The emergence of such a Commission within this international organisation would guarantee gender equality and maintaining it would remain at the fore of the APA activities. Mrs Gafarova added that she believed this novelty would contribute to the eradication of discrimination of women in the Asian countries, too.

Situated at the strategic confluence of the East and the West, Azerbaijan invariably keeps the subject of furthering co-operation with the Asian states in her focus. A cradle of many an ancient civilisation, Asia is today also one of the global development powerhouses, Speaker Gafarova went on.

Sahiba Gafarova said that the Milli Majlis of Azerbaijan found it of great importance to broaden bilateral and multilateral relations with the Asian national legislatures via parliamentary diplomacy, and was making considerable efforts to achieve that goal.

Azerbaijan has been nominated officially as Candidate Chair of the Asian Parliamentary Assembly for the years 2024-2025 with the purpose of strengthening solidarity, co-operation and parliamentary diplomacy on the Asian Continent. Should Azerbaijan be actually elected to chair the APA, the Speaker of the Milli Majlis continued, Azerbaijan would then attach special importance to the issues of solidifying the institutional structure of the APA and broadening its collaboration with other inter-parliamentary entities. Hopefully, Mrs Gafarova added, the Participating States were going to back our country in such endeavours.

Going further, the meeting participants were made aware of the current developments in the South Caucasus and of the situation influencing regional peace and stability. It was pointed out to them that, having freed her lands from the three-decades-long Armenian occupation in 2020, Azerbaijan proposed normalisation of the relations with Armenia as well as signing a peace treaty based on international law norms and principles with this country. Mrs Gafarova added that respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity was key for the present-day international order.

Armenia’s course of action has been the opposite of Azerbaijan’s strong will and consistent steps taken to achieve lasting peace and stability, Sahiba Gafarova recalled. Backtracking on existing arrangements, finding new excuses every time, the avoidance of hands-on negotiations, military-political provocations and the attempts to keep afloat the illegal separatist regime formed in our territories in every way possible have all added up to an unchanging pattern of behaviour on Armenia’s part over the two years and a half past, according to Sahiba Gafarova.

Azerbaijan had repeatedly demanded that Armenia withdrew its troops numbering more than 10,000 from the Azerbaijani territory unconditionally and completely, and dissolved the fake regime Armenia had fostered and sustained. Azerbaijan had reiterated as often that those were the staple conditions precedent to achieving peace and stability in the region, said the Speaker of the Milli Majlis.

The Armenian armed force located in the Garabagh Region of Azerbaijan made several military provocations and acts of terror on 19 September, and our country initiated local-nature anti-terror measures in response to those provocations. Sahiba Gafarova made it clear that the purpose of the measures was to disarm the Armenian armed forces and to remove from the Azerbaijani territories, to render their military infrastructure harmless, to provide the security of civilian populations and to restore the constitutional order of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

An arrangement to cease the local anti-terror measures was reached yesterday upon consideration of an appeal from the delegates of the Armenian residents of Azerbaijan’s Garabagh Region and on the stated terms and conditions.

As for a dialogue with those delegates, due to be resumed today, Sahiba Gafarova said she hoped that the dialogue would culminate in that populace’s reintegration with the Azerbaijani society and, in turn, Armenia’s conducting itself responsibly within the frameworks of the normalisation process and the signing of a peace treaty, ultimately, to bring lasting peace and stability to our region.