The foreign affairs ministerial conference for the countries of the Non-Aligned Movement has come to a close in Baku " />

Azerbaijan to lead Non-Aligned Movement next year

The foreign affairs ministerial conference for the countries of the Non-Aligned Movement has come to a close in Baku

The Non-Aligned Movement held a ministerial conference from 5 to 6 April in Baku on the topic of the ‘Promotion of International Peace and Security for the Sake of Sustainable Development’.

It was decided at the conference that Azerbaijan will take over the mantle of organisation from Venezuela as the chair country of the Non-Aligned Movement. Azerbaijan will lead the organisation from 2019 to 2022.

At the end of the conference, a document titled the ‘Baku Declaration’ was passed, which calls on countries to refrain from threatening to use force against the territorial integrity or political independence of other states, in addition to strengthening cooperation in the fight against terrorism in all its forms and to end the occupation of Palestinian territories.

The complete text of the document can be found here.

The Non-Aligned Movement is an international organisation which unites 120 countries on the principles of non-participation in military blocs. The organisation was created in 1961 in Belgrade by the then-leader of Yugoslavia, Josip Broz Tito.

The Non-Aligned Movement does not have an ordinary organisational structure or constant leadership. Decisions are made by consensus and are recommendatory in nature.

The chair of the organisation is the country which hosts the highest-level conference of the organisation. Such conferences are called, as a rule, once every three years. The last conference, the organisation’s 17th, was held in 2016 in Venezuela. The next conference will take place in 2019 in Baku.

Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev spoke at the opening of the ministerial conference, putting special emphasis on the fact that the strength of the organisation lies in its solidarity, given that member countries come up against similar challenges and problems.

“We member countries of the Non-Aligned Movement want to live an independent life without instructions from third parties,” Aliyev said, further noting that it has been more than a half-century that the Non-Aligned Movement has been propagating the principles of humanism.

He expressed his gratitude to the member countries of the Non-Aligned Movement for their support in regards to the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict on the basis of UN Security Council resolutions.

Azerbaijan joined the Non-Aligned Movement in 2011. Armenia has observer-status, while Georgia does not participate in the organisation’s events as it aims to join NATO.

In Azerbaijan, there are a number who oppose the country’s participation in the Non-Aligned Movement.

One presidential candidate and member of parliament Faraj Quliyev said during a live, televised debate that the country should move away from its non-aligned status and should focus on structuring better relations with Europe, the USA and Israel, and that cooperation with Russia should be excluded from the country’s list of priorities.

“It is wrong to participate in the Non-Aligned Movement, because when you don’t make allies and don’t openly call a friend a friend or an enemy an enemy, you create a situation in which even friends will hesitate before furthering relations with you, and so we must reject this policy and think about new blocs,” Quliyev said in his speech.

The head of the ‘South Caucasus’ political scientists organisation, Ilqar Velizade, believes that Azerbaijan has purposefully chosen to participate in the Non-Aligned Movement because it does not see any practical benefits from joining one camp over another.

“Azerbaijan does not intend to enter NATO or the Collective Treaty Security Organisation. In entering into one of these organisations or unions, the country must see perspectives for the future – if there are none, it is better to maintain a neutral position. Our participation in the Non-Aligned Movement means that Azerbaijan has already made its choice,” Velizade told the Ekho Baku newspaper.

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