Azerbaijan, Baku / Trend , corr A.Gasimova / Trend's exclusive interview with Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu
Question: What are OIC's priorities for 2007 and the near future?
Answer: The OIC's broad priorities for 2007 would be to continue the process which was started two years ago to promote the role and the performance of the Organization to be able to cope with the new international and regional order and to face the many challenges confronting the Muslim World. I would like to highlight some of the most important areas which are already being focused upon by the OIC. These include, first and foremost, the adoption of the new OIC Charter, which I consider will create a new momentum to the performance and the effectiveness of the organization in order to serve the collective interests of its 57 Member States. Another important area would be to reinforce the political role of the OIC in addressing the many crisis and challenges which confront its Member States and the Muslim World, a process which I had started already ever since my assumption of office in January 2005. I would also especially focus upon reinvigorating the Solidarity / Assistance Funds which the OIC has established to fulfill their noble objectives of forging solidarity and assisting the Muslim people in need. Another area that I would actively address would be the institutionalization of the new OIC agenda items like science
Question: How do you assess the co-operation between Azerbaijan and the OIC and the role of Azerbaijan in the OIC? How do Azerbaijani activities as OIC's ICFM Chairman meet the necessary requirements?
Answer: I personally highly appreciate the manner in which Azerbaijan has conducted itself ever since its assumption of the ICFM chairmanship. I have been extremely pleased to note that my sentiments are also fully shared by all OIC Member States. On the ground, Azerbaijan called for the convening of two Ministerial-level meetings of the OIC Executive Committee on the questions of Beit Hanoun and Jerusalem. This clearly demonstrated Azerbaijan's strong commitment to OIC causes. Furthermore, Azerbaijan convened in Baku the 5th OIC Ministerial Conference on Tourism. We are now all looking forward and grateful to H.E. the President of Azerbaijan's initiative of organizing another important and timely conference in Baku on "The role of the media in promoting understanding and tolerance".
Question: Do you plan to inject any changes into the OIC's Charter adopted in 1970 which might have become outdated amid the developments that have taken place over the last 35 years ? Is there any necessity to carry out reforms within the OIC?
Answer: This is a very important question and I have already partially answered this question earlier. I would like to further elaborate that the new OIC Charter is already in the process of being drafted and I earnestly hope that it will be adopted very soon by the Member States. A new OIC Charter is becoming a necessity for more than one reason. Firstly, this will be an implementation of the 10-year Programme of Action, which was unanimously adopted by the Third Extraordinary OIC Summit Conference in Makkah in December 2005. Secondly, it is true that many major developments have taken place, both internationally and regionally, and the organization needs to effectively cope with these developments. As for the reforms, it is also becoming a necessity for the OIC and is being given utmost priority. The new Charter is one of this reform process. Other measures are already underway at many levels, like restructuring the Secretariat and some of its affiliated institutions as well as their working methodologies, improving the level coordination between the Secretariat and its over 20 affiliated institutions, recruitment of highly qualified staff members, construction of an impressive headquarters building, new agendas and many other such measures.
Question: Have you set up arrangements for the forthcoming Conference on Tolerance in the Media, which is being organized in Baku in April? How relevant do you find this topic?
Answer: This Conference would be an important occasion and, as per its usual practice, the Secretariat would be extending its full support to organize a successful event. However, rather focusing on administrative arrangements, I would like to highlight both the importance as well as this timely initiative. We all are aware about the importance of the media in the contemporary age, especially its influence on formulating the perceptions of the public opinion. We are now suffering from the alarming phenomena of escalating violence and terrorism. This is a direct outcome of the intolerance and misunderstandings. Moreover, it is becoming a growing problem that the misperception being disseminated through the media about linking violence and terrorism with Islam. For all these reasons, I find H.E. the President of Azerbaijan's initiative to be most timely and would significantly contribute in correcting this misperception and lead to greater understanding and tolerance among mankind
Question: When do you plan to convene a regular OIC Summit and what issues would be included in its agenda?
Answer: According to OIC's Charter and its rules of procedures, the next regular Summit Conference was supposed to take place this year in Senegal. However, upon its request, it has been postponed to March 2008. Malaysia will continue with its responsibilities as the Summit Chairman until that time. As for the Summit's agenda, this is the prerogative of Member States and it is still too early to talk about it at this stage. The agenda would, generally, include all issues of mutual interest to the Member States and would encompass all fields. However, I would like to elaborate that the coming Summit would be an important one since it will be the first ordinary Summit to be held after the 3rd Extraordinary Summit of Makkah and also it will be entrusted the responsibility to endorse and adopt whatever has been achieved since Makkah. The Summit would also give a new impetus and momentum to the ongoing process for OIC's reform.
Question: Despite OSCE's Minsk Group involvement in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict for over 10 years, no results has been achieved as yet. Do you believe that it is time for another organization, including the UN, to join the conflict resolution process?
Answer: I strongly believe that in any conflict situation, it was imperative to maintain all the ongoing processes of resolving the conflict, whether on a bilateral or a multilateral level. Because of the extremely complicated nature of conflicts, like the one in Nagorno-Karabakh, it needs both time as well as accumulation of collective efforts until its resolution materializes. Therefore, I think we need to maintain the OSCE Minsk Group efforts and supplement them with other efforts by the UN and other international and regional organizations. I would like to highlight that as an organization responsible for security and cooperation in Europe, OSCE is most relevant organization to deal with this conflict.
Question: What could be OIC's reply to the possible decision of the Azerbaijani leadership to regain the occupied territory by military means?
Answer: At the outset, I would like to confirm that I personally and as the Secretary General of the OIC fully supports the right of Azerbaijan to regain its occupied territories from Armenia and that the OIC will continue to work hard, with its Member States and the international community, to assist in fulfilling this objective. At the same time, I strongly believe that any conflict should be peacefully resolved through political and diplomatic means. Military solution is a very costly and a very dramatic one in terms of loss of lives and damage to property. In the ultimate analysis, this option is a zero-sum game and requires that after the cease-fire and the many losses of lives, the concerned parties to return to the negotiating table for a final settlement through diplomatic means. I would accordingly suggest that the Azerbaijani leadership and the OIC as well as all other international actors to be actively involved in peacefully resolving the problem.