Baku, Azerbaijan, Feb.25
By Elchin Mehdiyev - Trend:
Azerbaijan plays a major role in the South Caucasus, the Chairman of the Council of State Support for NGO's under the President of Azerbaijan, MP Azay Guliyev said at a conference on "Azerbaijan`s history, culture and economy. A bridge between Europe and Asia."
The conference was held in the University of Rome Tor Vergata with the support of the Council and the promotion of Classis Project, said the Council.
Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at University of Rome Tor Vergata Franco Salvatore hailed the fact that different Azerbaijan-related events have been held in Italy in the past few years. He said such projects opened ample opportunities for Italians to closer familiarize themselves with Azerbaijan.
Chairman of the Council of State Support for NGOs Azay Guliyev noted the importance of the conference "in terms of spreading the truth about Azerbaijan in Europe". "Such events are aimed at strengthening the cooperation and mutual understanding between our countries and people."
Guliyev highlighted Azerbaijan`s development, saying the country is now playing a crucial role in the South Caucasus region.
Touching upon the relations between Azerbaijan and the EU, the head of the Council noted that the country has close ties with the EU in political, economic and other spheres.
Guliyev touched upon the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, saying "more than a million Azerbaijanis have become refugees and IDPs as a result of the conflict". "Just in a couple of days the people of Azerbaijan will mark the 23rd anniversary of the Khojaly Genocide, one of the bloodiest events of the Karabakh war."
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan.
As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
The two countries signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, Russia, France and the US are currently holding peace negotiations.
Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding regions.
On February 25-26, 1992, the Armenian armed forces, together with the 366th infantry regiment of Soviet troops stationed in Khankendi committed an act of genocide against the population of the Azerbaijani town of Khojaly.
As a result of the massacre, some 613 people were killed, including 63 children, 106 women and 70 old people. Eight families were totally exterminated, 130 children lost one parent and 25 children lost both. A total of 487 civilians became disabled as a result of the onslaught. Some 1,275 innocent residents were taken hostage, while the fate of 150 people remains unknown.
Head of Azerbaijan-Italy interparliamentary friendship group Azar Karimli praised political, economic and cultural ties between the two countries.
The conference then featured the presentation of "A mysterious Azerbaijan" Italian-language portal, which was created in partnership with the Council of State Support for NGOs. President of Italy-Azerbaijan Association Paola Casagrande hailed the creation of the portal in Italian, saying it will play an important role in promoting Azerbaijan in Italy.