Dear participants of the gathering!
I welcome you in Baku, and congratulate you on the start of the next Summit of the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe.
In a relatively short period of time the Alliance, which unites various political parties in Europe in a single platform, has grown into an influential organization playing a crucial role in the public and political life of the continent. It is with pleasure that I note that the fundamental values such as national sovereignty, parliamentary democracy and free society, which are declared by the organization, occupy an important place in the contemporary life of the Azerbaijani people, who preserve rich historical traditions. It is remarkable that today's summit coincides with the wide celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, the first parliamentary republic in the Muslim world, which granted women the right to vote earlier than most of the Western states.
A legal successor of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, the Republic of Azerbaijan embarked on a path of building a market economy, democracy, constitutional and secular state building in the years of independence, becoming an equal member of the world community by establishing mutually beneficial cooperation with different countries. Transnational oil and gas and transport projects, of which Azerbaijan is the initiator and the linchpin, make significant contributions to ensuring Europe's energy security and sustainable socio-economic development of regional countries. The launch of the Southern Gas Corridor, which was inaugurated on May 29, will create new opportunities for building on the success achieved in this area.
Azerbaijan attaches special importance to the expansion of international humanitarian cooperation, tirelessly promotes the ideas of intercultural dialogue, multiculturalism and tolerance, and contributes, within its capabilities, to addressing global challenges. However, I should regretfully note that the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which began 30 years ago, still remains the most serious impediment to both the development of our country and the expansion of regional cooperation. Armenia, which pursues the expansionist policy, occupied 20 percent of our territories, leaving more than a million people internally displaced in our country. Although the UN, OSCE, Council of Europe, European Union, Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Non-Aligned Movement and other influential organizations have adopted decisions on the fair settlement of the conflict based on the territorial integrity principle, no effective measures have yet been taken by the international community to put an end to the aggression. I hope that taking into account the current realities, members of the Alliance will adequately assess the fact of occupation, which is accompanied by a gross and mass violation of human rights and poses a serious threat to security in the region.
I believe that the gathering, which you organized in Azerbaijan, will be held in a business-like atmosphere, and the proposals and decisions to be made will contribute to the fulfillment of the tasks you set, development of democracy and free society and maintenance of peace and tranquility. I wish each of you success in this endeavor.
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan