Press Release No: 75/2008

New York, United Nations, March 14, 2008: OIC reiterates full support and total solidarity for the efforts undertaken by the Government and the people of Azerbaijan to defend their country and to achieve the restoration of complete sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

Following is the original text of the statement of Ambassador Munir Akram, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to United Nations in his capacity as Chairman of OIC( New York Group):

"I have the honour to speak on behalf of the states members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

We appreciate the convening of the General Assembly to consider the situation in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. This issue is a matter of international concern. It is on the agenda of this Assembly. The conflict in and around the Nagorno Karabakh region of Azerbaijan also remains on the agenda of the Security Council, whose resolutions 822, 853, 874 and 884 of 1993, unfortunately, remain unimplemented to date, posing a continued threat to peace and stability in the region. Those resolutions reaffirmed the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and other states of the region, reaffirmed the inviolability of international borders and the inadmissibility of the use of force for the acquisition of territory, and accordingly demanded the withdrawal of all occupying forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.

The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan has been the focus of diplomatic and other efforts aimed at reaching a peaceful settlement. This includes the peace process within the OSCE framework which has set out three principles of settlement namely: the territorial integrity of Armenia and Azerbaijan, highest degree of self rule of the Nagorno-Karabakh region within Azerbaijan, and guaranteed security for this region and its whole population.

Mr. President,

The Organization of the Islamic Conference also has a long-standing, principled and firm position vis-à-vis the aggression of the Republic of Armenia against the Republic of Azerbaijan. This position, based on the principles and objectives of the Charter of the United Nations, and our full support for the just stance of the Republic of Azerbaijan, is articulated in the relevant declarations, communiqués and resolutions of the OIC at the Summit and Ministerial levels.

The 34th Session of Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers held in May 2007 in Islamabad and the Annual Coordination Meeting of the Foreign Ministers in October 2007 in New York, reiterated their condemnation of the continuing aggression by Armenia against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, which constitutes a blatant violation of the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law. The Ministers called for immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of the Armenian forces from all the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. They called for peaceful resolution of the conflict on the basis of respect for territorial integrity and inviolability of internationally recognized borders.

The OIC also supported the efforts of the Government of Azerbaijan aimed at removing the obstacles to the peace process, such as the illegal transfer of settlers of Armenian nationality to the occupied territories, practices of artificial geographic, cultural and demographic alterations, unlawful economic activity and exploitation of natural resources in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. The OIC demanded Armenia to stop these activities as well as and the continued destruction of Azerbaijan's cultural and historical heritage including the Islamic monuments. The OIC is also deeply distressed over the plight of more than one million Azerbaijani displaced persons and refugees from the occupied territories and calls for enabling conditions for their return to their homes in safety, honor and dignity.

Mr. President,

The OIC has clearly stated that fait accompli cannot serve as a basis for a settlement. We are therefore deeply concerned over the efforts by Armenia to consolidate the status quo of occupation, including in particular, its policy of continuing illegal settlement of Armenian population in the occupied territories, which undermines and prejudices a negotiated settlement. Also of serious concern were the massive fires that started in June 2006 in the occupied territories, on which the General Assembly responded by adopting resolution 60/285 in September 2006 without a vote.

In the context of pacific settlement of this conflict, the OIC supports the activities of the OSCE Minsk Group and bilateral consultations held between the parties. We expect the parties to negotiate in good faith, and welcome the commitment of Azerbaijan in that regard for a peaceful resolution. The time, effort and resources devoted to this issue in more than a decade of negotiations should not be allowed to go waste. To uphold the prospects for peace, the international community must continue to support the peace process to steer the negotiations clear of impediments and a possible stalemate.

The draft resolution contained in document A/62/L.42 reflects the above mentioned principles, objectives and positions. It is consistent with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations on this issue, as well as the stance of the OIC, and has full support of the OIC group. We hope that this discussion and the adoption of this resolution will contribute to supporting and intensifying the international mediation efforts aimed at achieving a peaceful and lasting settlement of the conflict in accordance with the norms and principles of international law.

I would like to conclude by reiterating the full support and total solidarity of the OIC for the efforts undertaken by the Government and the people of Azerbaijan to defend their country and to achieve the restoration of complete sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan".