Updated after second paragraph (first version was posted at 12:06)
Azerbaijan, Baku, Sept. 23 / Trend K.Zarbaliyeva /
Azerbaijan has developed as a democratic, civilized nation with a cultural and tolerant people for 20 years, Azerbaijani Presidential Administration Social and Political Department Chief Ali Hasanov said at an international event dedicated to the 20th anniversary of Azerbaijan's state independence, which kicked off in Baku today.
"During the Soviet period, Azerbaijan occupied the leading positions in oil and gas production. After independence, Azerbaijan has become known as a country involved in a military conflict with Armenia, and in 1993-1994 - as one of the countries participating in the international project of TRACECA. Azerbaijan has also become known as an alternative site for the transport communications and since 1994 as an alternative energy source," Hasanov said.
Hasanov said Azerbaijan has rich hydrocarbons reserves in the Caspian Sea.
"Oil and gas fields discovered in the Caspian Sea are able to provide energy to Europe for hundred years. In 1994-1998, Azerbaijan was known in the world as an alternative energy source. Azerbaijan became the first state in the Muslim world, which created opera.
For the first time in the East, Azerbaijan has created a democratic state. And the current state is the successor of that state.
Azerbaijan became a state, which laid the foundation of equality along with other European countries - in 1919 women gained the voting right here. Azerbaijan is the largest state in the South Caucasus from a geographical point of view. Only Azerbaijan has rich natural resources among these countries," said Hasanov.
Proven oil reserves in Azerbaijan total about 14 billion barrels, and gas - about 2.55 trillion cubic meters and the estimated gas reserves total around seven trillion cubic meters. Azerbaijan also possesses fields of gold, copper and other natural resources, he said.
Hasanov said Azerbaijan is the only country in the South Caucasus, which is able to ensure its energy security. 90 percent of territories has been gasified in Azerbaijan.
Hasanov said 65 percent of Azerbaijani population is capable of working and only eight percent of people are aged above 65 years.
"Azerbaijan has a population of 9.165 million people, accounting for 70-75 percent of the population of the South Caucasus. There are 20 ministries, 11 state committees, three state companies, four state funds, 55 political parties in Azerbaijan," said Hasanov.
Hasanov said Azerbaijan pursues a policy based on the interests of civil society. "About 1,200 NGOs have been registered in Azerbaijan. They function in the legal, youth, social, environmental and other fields. The Government of Azerbaijan considers NGOs its allies," he said.
Azerbaijan is a tolerant state, he added.
According to Hasanov, about 4,500 TV channels, magazines, newspapers, internet portals have been registered in Azerbaijan. A legislative framework that meets European standards has been created to enable them to carry out their activities.
"Azerbaijan is the only state in the former Soviet Union, where there is no Ministry of Press and Information. About 50 daily, regional, and thematic newspapers are published in Azerbaijan.
The activities of television channels have been licensed in Azerbaijan since 1998. A total of 14 regional television channels, 14 cable and one satellite television channels operate in the country," said Hasanov.
According to Hasanov, Azerbaijan is a country which connects West to the East.