MADRID, November 23, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --
The importance of building mutual trust between Spain and Azerbaijan in the areas of peace and security, energy and trade was highlighted at a conference entitled "Azerbaijan in Today's Europe" on Thursday in Madrid, Spain. It was further announced that a new resolution on the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh would be tabled soon in the Spanish Senate to raise awareness of the long-lasting conflict.
The conference was the initiative of Elkhan Suleymanov, the Head of the Azerbaijani delegation to EURONEST Parliamentary Assembly, who brought a delegation comprising of seven MPs, three of them representing the opposition in Azerbaijan.
Welcoming the Azerbaijani delegation, the President of the Commission of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Senate, Alejandro Munoz-Alonso, said that Azerbaijan was a vital part of the European Union's Neighbourhood Policy and reiterated the EU's commitment to deepen economic and political integration with Azerbaijan, while anchoring the country further to EU values.
During a meeting with Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Garcia Margallo and the Vice-President of the Spanish Senate, Juan Jose Lucas, on the sidelines of the conference, Suleymanov extended an invitation for them to visit Azerbaijan, stressing that "Azerbaijan and Spain are both multicultural countries, which are situated in regions of great geo-political significance."
The Azerbaijani MP further added that the level of relations could be enhanced not only in trade and energy cooperation but also in other areas, such as agriculture and tourism. Referring to Azerbaijan's long parliamentary tradition - despite the rupture during the Soviet era - Suleymanov said that both countries could benefit from one another's experience in civil society development.
The conference, which was hosted by Spanish Senator Jose Maria Chiquillo, brought together over 180 distinguished participants including 80 senators and their deputies as well as prominent academics, business people and NGO representatives.
In his keynote address, Suleymanov pointed out that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict inflicted material damage in excess of 431 billion dollars on Azerbaijan and decried the fact that none of the resolutions adopted by the United Nations, European Parliament, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), OSCE and other international organisations calling for the settlement of the conflict within the principles of territorial integrity, have been fulfilled.
The conference witnessed a lively debate on legal considerations of UN resolutions on Nagorno-Karabakh, which were further discussed by Senator Jose Maria Chiquillo and the Azerbaijani Vice-Prime Minister and Chairman of the State Committee dealing with refugees and internally displaced persons (IDP), Ali Hasanov.
"There are serious concerns in Azerbaijani society about the indifference of the international community, especially the passive attitude of the European Parliament and the Council of Europe," said Suleymanov, arguing that discriminatory policies and double standards were applied by PACE which, for instance, has remained silent about the Armenian boycott of the Subcommittee on Nagorno-Karabakh since 2005. He also drew attention to the Monitoring Committee report of the Council of Europe on Azerbaijan under preparation and said that the rapporteur "should demand the restoration of rights of hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijani IDPs for more than 20 years and the use of sanctions against Armenia."
Mexican parliamentarian and Member of the Foreign Affairs Commission, Jesus Ramirez Renge, explained that a resolution on Nagorno-Karabakh was recently adopted in the Mexican parliament, condemning the occupation of Azerbaijani territory by Armenia and the genocide committed by Armenian armed forces in the Azerbaijani town of Khojaly. It also called on Armenia to implement UN Security Council resolutions, to withdraw Armenian troops from occupied territories and to stop the violence against the civilian population in Azerbaijan, while stressing the existence of a million refugees and internally displaced persons in Azerbaijan.