The Baku Initiative Group (BIG), created on July 6, 2023, by participants of the conference “Towards the Complete Elimination of Colonialism” in Baku, supports the struggle of peoples in various regions of the world still suffering from colonialism in the 21st century.
In an interview with Report, the group’s executive director Abbas Abbasov spoke about BIG’s future plans, the fight against colonialism, the role of the Baku Platform and much more.
– Since its founding, the Baku Initiative Group has implemented many important initiatives dedicated to the fight against neo-colonialism. What projects does BIG plan to implement by the end of the year?
– First of all, I would like to thank you for your interest in the activities of our organization. The decision to create the Baku Initiative Group was announced on July 6 this year during the international conference “Towards the Complete Elimination of Colonialism”, which took place on the sidelines of the ministerial meeting of the Coordination Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement, chaired by Azerbaijan.
As you emphasized, our organization has, in a short period, implemented important initiatives to combat colonialism and neo-colonialism. For example, on September 22, 2023, in New York at the headquarters of the UN General Assembly, our group held an international conference “Decolonization: The Quiet Revolution”, and on October 20 in Baku, the second international conference on colonialism “Neo-colonialism: Violations of Human Rights and Injustice” was organized.
In accordance with the work plan of our organization, we intend to hold several events before the end of this year and continue to work to strengthen bilateral relations with organizations operating in territories affected by colonialism.
– As you know, next year the chairmanship of the NAM will pass from Azerbaijan to Uganda. However, as the group’s executive director, you have stated that the fight against neo-colonialism will continue. How do you assess the Baku platform supporting the struggle for freedom of the peoples of various regions still suffering from colonization in the 21st century?
– You noted correctly that the BIG has become a platform for discussing important issues, and the Baku Platform will play a key role in actively supporting representatives of regions that still suffer from colonialism. During the opening of the headquarters of the Baku Initiative Group in Baku, we held the first meeting of the group members. The agenda included a discussion of our next steps in the fight against neocolonialism and colonialism.
I believe that the creation of the BIG and the continuation of the fight against colonialism even after the end of Azerbaijan’s chairmanship in the NAM, as well as the address of President Ilham Aliyev to the participants of the international conference “Neo-colonialism: Violation of human rights and injustice” is a bright indicator of our country’s strong support for those who fought (colonialism) and continue to fight to this day.
– The goal of the Baku Initiative Group is to fight not only French colonialism, but also colonial policy in general in the modern world. What measures does your organization plan to take in the future to obtain support from influential states in the fight against colonialism and neo-colonialism?
– BIG is not against specific countries or international organizations. Our organization was created to fight against colonialism and neo-colonialism in accordance with international law, norms and principles. We are not looking for the support of influential states – our activities are designed to resist colonialism. We are open to cooperation with states that are ready to fight against colonialism in the 21st century and support anti-colonial efforts. BIG is always ready to cooperate and welcomes support from such countries.
– Why do you think the colonialism problem and the growing trends towards its new manifestations in the 21st century still remain unresolved?
– You know, the problem of colonialism and the introduction of neo-colonialism continue due to several factors.
For example, France’s geopolitical interests in New Caledonia and French Polynesia lie in ensuring its presence in the Pacific region. France’s total territory, including overseas areas, is almost 675,00 sq km, while its European territory is just over 550,000 sq km. Today it is no secret that France is the second largest colonial empire in the world in terms of total area and control over overseas territories.
Another important factor for France and its presence in these regions is the natural resources and wealth of the colonized territories. In these regions, human rights and the right to self-expression are violated and the local population is actually deported. The existence and even strengthening of neo-colonialist trends is due to the fact that countries that self-proclaim themselves to be supporters of democracy and the protection of human rights are actually pursuing a policy of colonialism.
– At the international conference “Neo-colonialism: violation of human rights and injustice” held in Baku, representatives of 14 countries, as well as Corsica and the overseas territories of France, spoke about France’s gross interference in the internal affairs of its former colonies and France’s violation of human rights in the current ones. Why do you think, despite this, France maintains the image of ‘the most democratic country’?
– Frankly speaking, I don’t quite agree with you. During conversations with representatives of overseas regions suffering from the colonial policies of France, they repeatedly emphasized that official Paris is actively and effectively pursuing a policy to preserve the image of “the most democratic” with the help of local and foreign media. But this image of France does not correspond to the realities of the current international political arena. Many politicians and experts have repeatedly stated and continue to speak about France’s gross interference in the internal affairs of other states and the violation of human rights in its current colonies.
– Why do you think the global community does not respond to the calls of anti-colonial movements to support their efforts to ensure respect for the fundamental rights to freedom, reparation and development?
– You know, this is largely due to the double standards that exist in the modern world.
For example, Azerbaijan also faced this problem at one time. The Armed Forces of Armenia kept 20 percent of our country’s lands under occupation for about 30 years.
Despite four binding resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council in 1993, which confirmed the ownership of these territories by Azerbaijan and demanded the immediate withdrawal of Armenian Armed Forces from the territory of our country, this did not happen. As a result, Azerbaijan, relying on Article 51 of the UN Charter, restored its territorial integrity.
Today, the reaction of the global community to the fight against colonialism and neo-colonialism is not at the level we would like to see.
As BIG, we will continue our work to support regions suffering from colonialism, and their efforts to ensure respect for fundamental rights to freedom, reparations and development.
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