Agshin Mehdiyev, Ambassador for the Permanent Mission of Azerbaijan to the UN, on the significance of the country's election as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.

Agshin Mehdiyev
Born in 1949, Agshin Mehdiyev obtained his PhD in History from the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the USSR in Moscow. His professional career began in 1971, and he served in various diplomatic positions for the USSR before embarking on a diplomatic career in the Republic of Azerbaijan in 1993. He is currently the Ambassador for the Permanent Mission of Azerbaijan to the UN, and speaks English, Arabic, and Russian.

October 24, 2011 was a historic day for the Republic of Azerbaijan. On that day, Azerbaijan was elected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2012-2013 during the 66th session of the UN General Assembly. A total of 155 countries around the world supported our membership of the Security Council, which testifies to the achievements that Azerbaijan has made in recent years. The President of Azerbaijan, HE Ilham Aliyev, has characterized this election as Azerbaijan's biggest foreign policy success since regaining its independence in 1991.

Azerbaijan fully deserved to become a member of the Security Council as it received an overwhelming number of votes. We highly appreciate the trust and support given to Azerbaijan by the broad UN membership and assure all Member States of our firm determination to work in a constructive manner in the Security Council.

It is my firm belief that Azerbaijan will contribute to international peace and security by closely working with all members of the Security Council. First and foremost, Azerbaijan conducts an independent, multi-dimensional, and balanced foreign policy and has proved itself as a reliable partner, as well as a strong, stable, and predictable country in the years past.

Secondly, Azerbaijan will continue to demonstrate its commitment to the principles and purposes of the UN Charter and international law. Thirdly, Azerbaijan will spare no effort to establish lasting peace and stability in the South Caucasus region and beyond. The main priority of Azerbaijan's foreign policy is to find a solution to the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. As a country suffering from the scourge of war, ethnic cleansing, and occupation, Azerbaijan is the most interested party in a quick and just solution to the conflict.

The Security Council adopted four resolutions (822, 853, 874, 884) in 1993 in response to the illegal use of force against Azerbaijan and the occupation of its territories. In these resolutions the Security Council demanded an immediate, complete, and unconditional withdrawal of occupying forces from Azerbaijani territories and reaffirmed the territorial integrity and inviolability of the internationally recognized borders of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Although mediation efforts conducted for over 20 years have not always been consistent and have yet to yield results, Azerbaijan continues to be committed to a negotiated settlement to the conflict. We proceed from the understanding that at the core of the ongoing political process is a settlement formula based on putting an end to the illegal occupation of Azerbaijani territories, the restoration of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, the return of forcibly displaced persons to their native lands, and ensuring the peaceful coexistence of Azerbaijanis and Armenians in the Nagorno-Karabakh region within Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan regrets that the Security Council's resolutions have not been implemented yet and that Azerbaijani territories still remain under foreign occupation.

The Security Council, as the main organ responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security, should not tolerate the non-implementation of its own resolutions and should not remain indifferent to the grave consequences of the conflict. Azerbaijan will raise conflict-related issues under different topics such as the protection of civilians including women and children, peace and security, armed conflict, and the rule of law.

Furthermore, Azerbaijan's economy is on the rise. In recognition of result-oriented reforms, an ambitious national development strategy, and consistent economic policy, Azerbaijan has been recognized as one of the world's top reformers. Azerbaijan is determined to contribute to the realization of the development goals and objectives agreed within the UN. Azerbaijan demonstrates full support and undertakes ceaseless efforts for the eradication of poverty and promotion of sustained economic growth, sustainable development, and global prosperity for all, paying particular attention to addressing the special needs and vulnerabilities of the developing and least developed countries as well as those recovering from natural disasters. Over the past years Azerbaijan has provided extensive humanitarian assistance and contributed to the implementation of national development policies and strategies in a number of countries from different regions. Azerbaijan is keen to make further efforts in this direction. In addition, Azerbaijan has always been a place of coexistence and tolerance between different ethnic groups and religions. As a bridge between Eastern and Western civilizations and an active member of the Group of Friends of the UN Alliance of Civilizations, Azerbaijan actively contributes to the promotion of inter-religious and intercultural dialogue, which is one of the main priorities of its foreign policy. Azerbaijan will continue its efforts to this end.

Azerbaijan acknowledges the vital importance of ensuring greater transparency in the decision-making process, accountability in performance, shared responsibility, and better involvement of non-member states in the work of the Security Council. As a non-permanent member of the Security Council, Azerbaijan will fully dedicate itself to contributing to the maintenance of international peace and security and to making the Security Council a more representative, transparent, and efficient organ so that it can effectively address the full range of challenges and threats confronting our world.