Successful development model has made Azerbaijan a reliable partner on the international scale
Q: How do you estimate the results of 2014 for Azerbaijan?
A: Azerbaijan is going along the path of independence and development. The economic and financial crisis that gripped the world a few years ago, as well as the negative events and conflicts taking place in the region, did not affect the successful development of Azerbaijan. The main reason here is the stability of the sociopolitical situation in Azerbaijan, the unity between the people and the government and the successful implementation of all our programs.
In his speech at the meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers dedicated to the results of socioeconomic development in 2014 and objectives for 2015, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev said: “The world and the region witnessed different processes last year. We can say that tensions have significantly increased. However, Azerbaijan has managed to maintain a high pace of development. We provided for the security of our country and implemented economic and social programs. The Azerbaijani people lived in safety in 2014 as well.”
The country's economy has developed successfully. At the beginning of last year we set the goal of achieving growth of both the gross domestic product and the non-oil sector. These two main objectives have been met. Our economy has grown by about 3 per cent. This is an excellent indicator in today's world. Some countries have not experienced any growth. In fact, they are registering a decline. In the countries registering growth it constitutes about 1 per cent.
Inflation was very low – 1.4 per cent. This is also a great indicator. Incomes of the population have increased by 4.8 per cent, exceeding the inflation rate more than three times. I can say that there has been a picture in recent years when population incomes grow several times faster than inflation. And this has a positive effect on people’s well-being.
Last year was declared "The Year of Industry" in Azerbaijan, as we established more than 230 industrial enterprises. A total of 123,000 jobs have been created, of which nearly 100,000 are permanent. At the same time, the rapid economic development has had a positive impact on the demographic situation.
Q: Azerbaijan is conducting a successful foreign policy. What can you say of the country`s achievements on this front last year?
A: President Ilham Aliyev said at the cabinet meeting: “Our international relations expanded further last year. Every year there is a growing number of countries we cooperate with. In other words, we cooperate actively. Azerbaijan pursues a very successful foreign policy both in bilateral and multilateral formats. Of course, in the bilateral format we had very close contacts, primarily with neighboring countries. Numerous mutual visits at the level of heads of state were organized. Work has been done on the development of bilateral relations with countries of Europe and Asia. Azerbaijan enjoys great respect in the world, is recognized as a reliable partner and our international authority is gradually increasing. Azerbaijan's role in the solution of regional matters and issues of regional cooperation is indispensable. We have put forward many initiatives. These initiatives are not just intentions. They are turned into tangible projects. The implementation of these projects, of course, enhances our capabilities and brings our country political and economic dividends.”
Last year we cooperated successfully with international organizations. Azerbaijan takes an active part in all international organizations we are members of, defends his position and makes a valuable contribution to the successful activities of these organizations. Last year we chaired the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. It was a period of very successful presidency. During this period Azerbaijan made a huge and valuable contribution to the development of democracy, protection of human rights and justice in Europe.
President Ilham Aliyev hailed the groundbreaking of the Southern Gas Corridor last year as a historic event. “The execution of the Southern Gas Corridor, which is the project of the 21st century, will be an important stage in the development of our country.”
The head of state praised preparation for the first European Games to take place in Baku in several months, and said that the Organizing Committee is working actively. “The European Games standard will be set in Baku,” said the President, and hailed the games as “not only a sporting event, but also an important opportunity for sportsmen and guests to familiarize themselves with our country and development processes here”.
I want to emphasize the opening of “ASAN xidmət” centers. There are already seven centers now. Over the course of two years they have received 3.5 million applications. The number of services provided is growing. Their quality is high and this is very positively perceived by society. Of the institutional projects against corruption and bribery carried out in recent years, “ASAN xidmət” is in the foreground, of course. Our experience is studied in other countries.
Q: And what about the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?
A: As previous year, 2014 saw President Ilham Aliyev focus on the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute. Unfortunately there was no progress in this direction last year. Last year too, Armenia simply chose the strategy of imitating the negotiations. Armenia does not want this conflict to be settled and does not want to vacate the occupied lands despite the fact that the presidents of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chair countries have repeatedly stated that the status quo is unacceptable. According to the head of state “If the status quo is unacceptable, and it certainly is, then measures must be taken. It is necessary to put pressure on the aggressor state. It must be forced to withdraw from the occupied lands. Otherwise, it will be some sort of hypocrisy. A statement is made but it is not followed by any work. Similarly, the UN Security Council has adopted four resolutions. For over 20 years none of them has been implemented.” “Why are some resolutions immediately implemented in other regions and are not implemented in our case? This is an injustice. These are double standards. The Azerbaijani people are already well aware that the unresolved status of this problem should not be attributed only to the unconstructive position of Armenia. Apparently there are forces in the world that are not interested in resolving this conflict. Apparently there are forces that are interested in keeping this conflict in a "frozen" or "semi-frozen" state and using it as a means of pressure on Azerbaijan. The picture we are seeing in different regions – Europe and the Middle East – in recent years further reinforces this position and this approach. This is the conclusion that follows from these processes.” Therefore, it should be clarified how much longer we will have to encounter these double standards, said the head of state.