President Aliyev attends NATO North Atlantic Council meeting
Baku, Azerbaijan, Nov. 23
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has attended a meeting of the North Atlantic Council of NATO in Brussels.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg made a speech. He then gave the floor to President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev.
The head of state noted that Azerbaijan and NATO maintain successful cooperation in various areas. Stressing Azerbaijan’s active involvement in different missions and operations of NATO, President Ilham Aliyev hailed the alliance’s contribution to mine clearance operations in Azerbaijan. The head of state said Azerbaijan is expanding its peacekeeping activities in Afghanistan and is cooperating with this country at the bilateral level in economic and other areas.
President Ilham Aliyev touched upon Azerbaijan-European Union relations, saying the cooperation covers many areas and is successfully developing.
Highlighting democratic development issues, President Ilham Aliyev said the free internet, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and other freedoms are ensured in Azerbaijan. Speaking of economic progress and large-scale reforms conducted in the country, the head of state said that since 2004 Azerbaijan`s economy has grown three times, the level of poverty has been reduced from 49 per cent to 5 per cent, the level of unemployment has been reduced to five per cent, while the ratio of the country’s external debt to the gross domestic product is below than 20 per cent.
President Ilham Aliyev said Azerbaijan has become one of the centers of multiculturalism in the world, adding that multiculturalism and tolerance are ensured and many relevant events have been organized in the country. The head of state pointed out the development of the non-oil sector. President Ilham Aliyev said the Davos World Economic Forum improved Azerbaijan`s ranking from 37th to 35th place among world countries in terms of economic competitiveness. The head of state underlined achievements in education, infrastructure, transport and other areas.
President Ilham Aliyev emphasized Azerbaijan’s role in ensuring Europe’s energy security, spoke of the “Southern Gas Corridor” project, noted successful implementation of TANAP and TAP projects and said Azerbaijan will turn into Europe’s reliable gas partner in the years to come. Highlighting the importance of Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railroad, the head of state said this is the shortest route between Asia and Europe. President Ilham Aliyev stressed that Azerbaijan has become a key transit hub between North-South and East-West.
President Ilham Aliyev touched upon the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The head of state said Armenia occupied 20 per cent of Azerbaijani territories - Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding districts. The President provided an insight into Armenians’ military crimes in those territories, Khojaly genocide, massacre and ethnic cleansing of innocent people. The head of state noted that the OSCE fact-finding missions recorded destructions in the occupied districts. President Ilham Aliyev said the UN Security Council’s four resolutions demanding withdrawal of Armenian occupier forces from Azerbaijani territories are not implemented and Armenia intends to keep the status quo. President Ilham Aliyev said NATO supports Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity.
Then ambassadors of a number of countries made speeches to hail Azerbaijan’s active role in NATO`s missions, the country`s assistance to Afghanistan and participation in the missions there. They applauded Azerbaijan’s contributions to the European energy security. The speakers also touched upon the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and noted the necessity of resolving the dispute.
Then the head of state answered to questions from the ambassadors to NATO.