AZERBAIJAN - AZERBAIDJAN - AZERBAIYAN
His Excellency Izzet Roustamov, Deputy Prime Minister of the Azerbaijani Republic
First of all let me say that I am very pleased to be here participating in the work of the Summit. I would also like to join all of the excellent good words and wishes for the Chairman under whose guidance our Summit is successfully taking place. I would also like to express my gratitude to the FAO Secretariat for the warm welcome extended to our Delegation in Italy, to the people who have had economic and cultural ties with us for so long, and for the wonderful preparations for the Summit.
Global experience shows that no single country is able to reach economic prosperity alone without active and multilateral cooperation with other states within the framework of the international organizations, the most important of which are the organizations of the United Nations system. It is very important that this meeting has been arranged under the aegis of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
The Rome Declaration on World Food Security and the World Food Summit Plan of Action that we adopted during the Summit represents an important document aimed at the elimination of hunger and malnutrition around the world.
The Azerbaijani Republic attaches great importance to the work of the Summit, the agenda of which contains issues of vital interest for the Azerbaijani Republic and for a number of other countries in transition and in the developing world. FAO's traditional activities are well known and are highly appreciated across the world. Lately, FAO's work has also included the problems of the newly independent states the economies of which are in transition. The entry of this group of states into the membership of FAO poses new challenges for the Organization and, in particular, the task of assisting these countries to overcome problems they confront in the process of transformation to a market economy and in furthering their economic development generally. At the present stage, it is desirable that FAO, pay more attention to the more specific problems of countries with economies in transition as well as to the problems of other developing countries.
We should also like to say that this will help shape the economies in transition and assist them in overcoming this crisis - creating a more favourable and sound basis for mutually beneficial economic cooperation with FAO Member States. Sharing the opinion of most of the countries that, in order to alleviate the problems which lie at the base of food instability, it is necessary firstly to follow a policy of sustainable development through using the means available to the States themselves.
I regret to say that in the Azerbaijani Republic, the construction of a newly independent state, based on the principles of democracy and market economy, started in a time of war. This has had considerable ramifications, and further complicated the situation of the Azerbaijani Republic, leading to domestic destabilization and a worsening of the general conditions under which economic reforms are being carried out. As a result of aggression from the side of neighbouring Armenia, about 20 percent of the territory of Azerbaijan was occupied, more than one million people became displaced in their own country. The Armenian aggressors destroyed about 900 settlements, 640 villages, took away 220 000 herd of cattle. The economy of Azerbaijan suffered damage totalling more than US$ 40 billion.
The other reason for the decrease in the agricultural sector in Azerbaijan has been the breaking of economic ties with other Republics of the former Soviet Union and, as a result of which the decentralized system of seed supply, fertilizers, chemicals and equipment for agriculture has been largely destroyed. Also the blocking of railway links with Russia has had a heavy impact on the economy of the Republic, leading to a decrease in production.
Who, if not we in Azerbaijan, a country of more than one million permanently displaced people with a total population of seven and a half million, can better understand the problems connected with hunger, under-nutrition, unemployment and poverty? Most of the displaced people have been living in tent camps for years, do not have work and do not have the financial means to live. The problem of hunger and infectious diseases also exists and for a large part of the population of Azerbaijan, especially in wintertime when we have the factor of cold and respiratory diseases stemming from exposure to cold.
The situation of Azerbaijan, whose problems tend to become chronic ones, and in this connection, and in keeping with the opinion of a number of countries that are against the creation of new structures for the solution of problems, we think it is necessary to use existing FAO structures such as the Early Warning System and provide urgent assistance to states which are under threat of hunger and food crises, to create a system of analysis and prevention of such emergent crises as have occurred in the world in order to act very early for the purpose of quick localization of emerging crises in any given country. Azerbaijan became a member of FAO at the end of 1995 and hopes to find understanding and support from the Organization in solving problems connected with permanently displaced people. The wide scope of the problems that Azerbaijan has to solve during this period of time will require massive aid.
In light of the above, the role of FAO, having a great deal of know-how and expertise and having been for so long a centre for economic cooperation among countries around the world including the most developed ones in the field of agriculture and food, we hope on the basis of this that the role of FAO will be a prominent one and a sizeable one. The Azerbaijani Republic is interested in participating in most of the regular FAO programmes and in economic cooperation programmes within the framework of the Organization, working with all of its member countries.
Let us also say that we wish to make it clear that we are in full agreement with most of the provisions of the Rome Declaration, as well as the World Food Summit Plan of Action and we would like to assure you that the Azerbaijani Republic will do everything it can, everything that is possible, for its practical implementation.
Let me reiterate that we are in agreement with most of the provisions of the Rome Declaration and World Food Summit Plan of Action and will do everything towards its implementation.