Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic (R) greets Abdulla Shahid, president of the United Nations General Assembly, in Belgrade, Serbia, Oct. 11, 2021. Over 100 state delegations attended a ceremony here on Monday marking the 60th anniversary of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), issuing a joint call for multilateralism in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and in international relations in general. (NAM/Handout via Xinhua)
BELGRADE, Oct. 11 (Xinhua) -- Over 100 state delegations attended a ceremony here on Monday marking the 60th anniversary of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), issuing a joint call for multilateralism in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and in international relations in general.
The event, co-organized by Serbia and Azerbaijan, opened at the Belgrade Fair complex on Monday in front of the presidents, prime ministers and foreign ministers of the NAM member countries, representatives of the observer countries and nine international organizations.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, who is the current chair of the NAM, addressed the participants via a video link. He said that his country "will spare no effort" to strengthen the NAM's role in "addressing global challenges in international relations and defend justice and international law," especially when it affects the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the NAM member states.
"Unfortunately, double standards and selective approaches applied in respect to the norms and principles of international law and the decisions of international organizations have been negatively affecting the just and fair settlement of conflicts throughout the world," he said.
Aliyev criticized certain countries for stockpiling COVID-19 vaccines and for engaging in "vaccine nationalism." "Such actions prevent most of our fellow NAM countries from protecting the population. The disparity in vaccine access is huge."
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic recalled that the NAM played an "essential role in preserving peace and security in the world, in the process of decolonization, curbing the arms race and promoting the equitable social and economic development of all countries".
"Today, like never before, it is necessary to work on strengthening of multilateralism and the multilateral world order. Each new challenge we face reminds us that no state, figuratively speaking, is an isolated and self-sustaining island and that cooperation and solidarity are the only path that leads towards individual and collective prosperity," Vucic said.
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov conveyed a message from President Vladimir Putin, in which he spoke highly of the NAM's role in consistently insisting on the principle of the equality of states, on respecting sovereignty and legitimate interests, and in advocating constructive multilateral dialogue strictly in accordance with the United Nations Charter.
"We hope that our observer status in the NAM will help all coordinated efforts that will benefit the democratization of international relations and overall success," Lavrov said after reading Putin's letter.
Abdulla Shahid, president of the United Nations General Assembly, said that the "NAM serves as a keystone of the global multilateral system."
"This keystone is needed as much now as it was 60 years ago. While the conditions may have changed, the need for diplomacy and the multilateral approach has not. Issues such as disinformation, pandemics, climate change and biodiversity loss are forcing our world to let go of any remaining notions of isolation," he said.
"The future will be a choice: do we continue to plot along our own paths, marking some success and too many fallbacks, or do we put aside our differences and work together as one species, as one humanity. For me, we have no choice but to choose the latter, and that for me is what sparks hope and optimism."
According to the Serbian government's press release, the two-day event brings together over 500 delegates from the NAM member countries, observer countries and international organizations.
The Non-Aligned Movement, which today includes 120 member states and 18 observer states, was established in Belgrade in 1961. Enditem