President Ilham Aliyev: Azerbaijan is in top division, while Armenia is in third league, and this difference will gradually increase
BAKU, Azerbaijan, Jan. 16
“In short, the discussions held today summarize the work done last year,” Ilham Aliyev said. “At the same time, a clear picture emerges regarding the work to be completed this year. I am sure that this year will also be successful. I would like to express my attitude to another issue. As you can also see, the prime minister of Armenia has recently been speaking about his country’s “successes” and comparing Armenia to Azerbaijan. According to his conclusion, Armenia is ahead of Azerbaijan in many respects. I want to say right away – and there is no need to prove this – that such a theory is unfounded. Azerbaijan is far ahead of Armenia in all major respects. To confirm this, I simply want to cite a few events and voice some figures.”
“As you know, Azerbaijan was elected a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council with the support of 155 countries in 2011,” the Azerbaijani president noted. “This is a high indicator in itself. First of all, because we achieved this high and honorable mission for the first time when our independence was only 20 years old. On the other hand, this was a factor directly testifying to the international authority of Azerbaijan because the absolute majority of the world community believed in us, trusted us and voted for us. I already informed the public about this event quite broadly before.”
“However, there is an issue that is always overlooked – many are unaware of this,” said Ilham Aliyev. “The truth is that in 2011 Armenia nominated itself before us. But after we had put forward our candidacy, they gave it a bit of a thought and saw that they would lose to us by 100 percent, so they quietly and cowardly withdrew their candidacy. They knew that we would win with a huge margin in the UN and that they would disgrace themselves. So the events which occurred nine years ago show how different the respect and authority of Armenia and Azerbaijan are in the international arena. Our election to the UN Security Council was a great political and diplomatic victory and, at the same time, a great victory over Armenia.”
In 2016, Armenia carried out a military provocation against the peaceful Azerbaijani population, killing several civilians, including children, the Azerbaijani president noted.
“In response to this, Azerbaijan carried out a successful counter-offensive operation, liberated a part of Aghdara, Fizuli and Jabrayil districts, thousands of hectares of land from the invaders, and the Azerbaijani flag was hoisted on these lands,” Ilham Aliyev added. “That was our military victory. Another military victory was secured in 2018. As a result of the successful Nakhchivan operation, a territory of more than 10,000 hectares was freed from the invaders, the Armenian armed forces, several important strategic heights were captured, allowing us the opportunity to exercise full control over Armenia’s strategic communications. This was our second military victory.”
Azerbaijan is ranked 52nd in the rating of the most powerful armies in the world, while Armenia is 96th, the Azerbaijani president said.
“Azerbaijan occupies 63rd place for the strength of its air force, while Armenia is in 86th place,” Ilham Aliyev added. “Azerbaijan is in 67th place for the strength of its navy, while there is no sea in Armenia. Azerbaijan is 32nd place for the strength of its tank troops, and Armenia is in 78th. The source is the Global Firepower 2019 report.”
“And now let me draw your attention to the key macroeconomic indicators,” the Azerbaijani president said. “In 2019, Azerbaijan’s gross domestic product in dollar terms was $47.6 billion and in Armenia only $13 billion. In terms of the purchasing power, Azerbaijan has internal products worth $187 billion and Armenia $33 billion, which is 5.6 times less. The per capita gross domestic product in Azerbaijan is $4,800 and in Armenia $4,500.”
“In terms of its purchasing power, the gross domestic product per capita in Azerbaijan is $18,600 and in Armenia $11,000,” Ilham Aliyev added. “Foreign exchange reserves in Azerbaijan amount to $51 billion and in Armenia to $2 billion, or 25 times less. Foreign trade in Azerbaijan is $33.6 billion and in Armenia $7.4 billion, or 4.5 times less. Exports: in Azerbaijan they are $19.6 billion and in Armenia $2.4 billion, or 8.1 times less. The surplus in Azerbaijan is $6 billion and in Armenia there is a negative balance of $2.6 billion.”
“Investments: last year, $13.5 billion was invested in Azerbaijan and $900 million in Armenia, or 15 times less,” said the Azerbaijani president. “External public debt: Azerbaijan’s external public debt is $7.9 billion and Armenia’s $6 billion. In Azerbaijan, the external public debt accounts for 17 percent of the gross domestic product and in Armenia for more than 40 percent. Foreign exchange reserves in Azerbaijan exceed the external public debt 6.4 times and Armenia’s external debt is 2.3 times bigger than foreign exchange reserves. External public debt per capita in Azerbaijan is $799 and in Armenia $1,900.”
“Here is the data on wages and pensions,” Ilham Aliyev noted. “In December 2019, the average salary in Azerbaijan was 723 manats, or $425, in Armenia $369. In terms of the purchasing power of the average wage, Azerbaijan ranks second in the CIS, while Armenia is ninth. The minimum pension in Azerbaijan is 200 manats, or $118, in Armenia it is $55. In terms of the minimum pension, Azerbaijan is in second place in the CIS and Armenia is ninth. Azerbaijan is in first place in terms of the purchasing power of the minimum pension, while Armenia is tenth, i.e. last place in the CIS.”
“The average pension in Azerbaijan is 262 manats, or $154, while in Armenia it is $84,” the Azerbaijani president added. “Azerbaijan ranks fourth in terms of the average pension in the CIS and Armenia is in eighth place. Azerbaijan is in second place in terms of the purchasing power of the average pension, while Armenia is in last 10th place in the CIS. Poverty rate in Azerbaijan is 4.8 percent and in Armenia 24 percent, or five times higher.”
“In 2019, a total of 934 apartments were provided to the families of martyrs and those disabled in the war in Azerbaijan, and zero in Armenia,” said Ilham Aliyev. “In general, 7,590 apartments were provided to people of this category in Azerbaijan. As far as I know, there is no such program in Armenia. Last year alone, 600 cars were provided to people of this category, and zero in Armenia. In total, 6,750 cars were provided to people of this category, and zero in Armenia.”
“Let’s move on to the global competitiveness report of the Davos World Economic Forum,” the Azerbaijani president noted. “Here are some figures for 2019. According to the long-term strategy of the government, Azerbaijan ranks 10th and Armenia 59th in the world. In terms of the provision of political stability by the government, Azerbaijan is in 11th place and Armenia in 58th. In terms of the independence of the judiciary, Azerbaijan is in 39th place and Armenia in 67th. In terms of the confidence in the police, Azerbaijan ranks 30th and Armenia 44th.”
“For the quality of roads, Azerbaijan is in 27th place and Armenia in 91st,” Ilham Aliyev added. “In terms of the efficiency of railway services, Azerbaijan is in 11th place in the world and Armenia in 67th. In terms of the efficiency of air services, Azerbaijan is in 12th place and Armenia in 67th. For the number of Internet users, i.e. their percentage of the population, Azerbaijan is in 43rd place and Armenia in 77th. According to digital knowledge among the population, Azerbaijan is in 19th place and Armenia in 50th. Azerbaijan is 69th in terms of the gross domestic product and purchasing power parity, while Armenia is in 120th place.”
“In 2019, Azerbaijan won 775 medals in world and European championships, of which 271 were gold,” the Azerbaijani president noted. “Armenia won a total of 222 medals, of which 61 were gold. In 2019, Azerbaijan won 28 medals at the second European Games and Armenia won 11. At the European Wrestling Championship held in 2019, Azerbaijan won 13 medals, including four gold, while Armenia won three medals, including one gold.”
“Moving on to the results in chess, which is an intellectual sport,” said Ilham Aliyev. “In 2019, Dinara Huseynova won a gold medal at the European Championship among eight-year-olds. Saadat Bashirli and Yusif Karimli won bronze medals. Ayan Allahverdiyeva became European champion among 14-year-olds. Our women's national team beat Armenia at the European Championships and won bronze medals. At the junior world championship, Aydin Suleymanli became world champion among 14-year-olds. And Teymur Rajabov won the World Cup. Azerbaijan won 18 medals at the Olympic Games in Rio 2016, while Armenia won only four. Azerbaijan finished in 14th place in terms of the total number of medals.”
Another important issue is that Azerbaijan is waging a consistent struggle against the glorification of fascism, while Armenia is glorifying the Nazis, the Azerbaijani president added.
“A 6-meter monument was erected to the fascist executioner Nzhdeh in the center of Yerevan,” Ilham Aliyev said. “This bloody criminal was arrested by SMERSH, sentenced to 25 years, died in prison and was not rehabilitated. A monument was erected in honor of such a person in Yerevan, and the prime minister of Armenia identifies this executioner with Solzhenitsyn and Molotov. Nzhdeh is the author of the notorious saying: he who dies for Germany, dies for Armenia, and he said this during World War II. This expression already reflects his despicable essence. Therefore, Azerbaijan supports justice here too, while Armenia is on the side of evil forces.”
“Based on an analysis by the reputable news agency News & World Report, a list of the most powerful countries in the world has been compiled,” the Azerbaijani president noted. “Only 80 countries are included on the list, and Azerbaijan is in 45th place on this list. Armenia is not included there at all. In terms of the pace of economic development, we are in 35th place on a global scale.”
Azerbaijan is implementing giant projects of world significance, Ilham Aliyev added.
“Among them are the Baku-Novorossiysk, Baku-Supsa and Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipelines, the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum and TANAP gas pipelines,” the Azerbaijani president said. “The Southern Gas Corridor will be commissioned this year. The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway has been commissioned, and cargo traffic along this railway is increasing every year. Baku-Tbilisi-Kars is an integral part of the East-West transport corridor. We have successfully implemented this project with neighboring countries – Turkey and Georgia.”
“With other neighbors, Russia and Iran, we are successfully working on the North-South corridor,” Ilham Aliyev noted. “It is possible to say that this corridor is functioning. Further steps are simply being taken to make this corridor more efficient. These gigantic energy and transport projects have bypassed Armenia. These are our neighbors. At the same time, with the exception of Russia, they are the neighbors of Armenia. So we have established relations with our neighbors on the basis of friendship, cooperation and sincerity, and this is exactly why we have succeeded in implementing these projects. Armenia, for its part, has been neglecting its neighbors for centuries, trying to grab something from them, to lay claim to their lands, to falsify history, to falsify and appropriate historical monuments. This is the difference.”
“We have isolated Armenia from these energy and transportation projects and never made a secret of that,” the Azerbaijani president added.
“A few years ago, I said that we would isolate Armenia from all the important projects being implemented in the region with our participation, and we achieved this – as always, we kept our word,” Ilham Aliyev said. “As a result of our efforts, Armenia today is a political, economic, investment, energy and transport impasse. This situation will continue until they leave our lands. So if the Armenian leadership once again tries to compare Armenia to Azerbaijan on the basis of some fictitious data, let it think carefully. Speaking the language of sports, Azerbaijan is in the top division, while Armenia is in the third league, and this difference will gradually increase.”
“You know, I’ve never compared Azerbaijan to any country before,” the Azerbaijani president added. “We are not doing our work to leave anyone behind. We are doing it for the benefit of the Azerbaijani people and state. I had to provide this comparative analysis to you and the Azerbaijani people simply to expose another Armenian lie. In fact, the figures I have cited reflect reality, while those cited by Armenia are yet another myth, yet another lie.”
2020 has just begun, and it has begun well, Ilham Aliyev said.
“I can say that two projects were signed in Baku a few days ago, an executive agreement with two major investors,” noted the Azerbaijani president. “This is a very important step aimed at creating renewable energy. Two large power plants will be built – wind and solar. The importance of this event is that the funds will be invested by investors. So it is about confidence in us, support for the long-term development of Azerbaijan. The capacity of the two stations will be 440 megawatts. These will be very large stations, the largest solar and wind power stations in the region.”
“We are creating renewable energy ourselves too – a 50-megawatt station has been built,” Ilham Aliyev added. “At present, the design of a 84-megawatt station is drawing to a close, and we will do that. Today, the share of renewable energy in our energy balance is approximately 17-18 percent. According to our long-term strategy, we must bring it to at least 30 percent. I should also say that nine companies participated in the tender. So nine major companies are ready to invest in production of renewable energy in Azerbaijan. Two companies that offered more favorable conditions were selected. But this doesn’t mean that the other companies will be left on the sidelines. We invite them.”
“Let them revise their proposals, make the conditions more acceptable for us, for our country, and please, there is enough room for them in Azerbaijan,” the Azerbaijani president said. “Thank God, Azerbaijan is rich in both the sun and the wind and has modern energy infrastructure. Again, according to the Davos report, Azerbaijan ranks second in the world in terms of accessibility of energy. We also have exports, last year we exported energy worth more than $60 million. Therefore, I am confident that the creation of renewable energy will become another priority sector for us. I am instructing the Cabinet of Ministers to consider the proposals of the companies that participated in the tender, invite them, conduct negotiations with them individually, so that they could implement a similar project in Azerbaijan. In a nutshell, I am sure that Azerbaijan will develop successfully this year. In 2020, Azerbaijan will become an even stronger state.”