Azerbaijani top official: Economy maintains momentum of regional leadership in 2010
Azerbaijan, Baku, Dec. 20 / Trend S.Agayeva /
Trend interviewed Azerbaijani Presidential Administration Political Analysis and Information Provision Department Head Elnur Aslanov.
Results of 2010
Aslanov regards 2010 as a successful year for Azerbaijan in political and economic terms. Aslanov said it is necessary to ascertain some aspects of the development.
"First, 2010 will be remembered by the fourth parliamentary elections. The country held open and transparent elections with the participation of all political forces. This is another step towards improving the country's democratic institutions and traditions," he said.
The second important aspect of the department, Aslanov said, is Azerbaijan's economic indexes, which this year once again retained the momentum of regional leadership. "The fact that all these are observed against the background of the declining, but still existing global financial crisis, is important," he said.
"So, as of late 2010, we can ascertain that over the past seven years wages and pensions in Azerbaijan rose by an average of 5-6 times, poverty reduced by 4 times and about 900,000 new jobs opened, of which 600,000 are permanent . The budget expenditures increased 12 times, the military almost 20 times and foreign exchange reserves 18 times. Azerbaijan's foreign currency reserves made up more than $ 24 billion as of late 2010. Since 1995, $82 billion was invested in the country's economy. GDP growth for 11 months of 2010 is 4.5 percent. This, incidentally, is more than in some European countries and the USA. In the non-oil sector GDP grew by 5.9 percent and oil by 2.6 percent. This is a clear indication that Azerbaijan's economy is a diversified economy," Aslanov said.
He also noted Azerbaijan's foreign economy in 2010 was aimed at diversifying the transportation of hydrocarbons from the Caspian Sea.
In June, the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) and Turkey's BOTAS signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the sale and transportation of natural gas.
"In 2010, there was a significant event which, as President Ilham Aliyev stressed, has a special meaning in that it is evidence that Azerbaijan has become a major gas country," Aslanov said. "A gas field, Umid, was discovered in Azerbaijan. The field's reserves hit 200 billion cubic meters of gas and 30-40 million tons of condensate. According to information received so far from this one well, total reserves are 250 billion cubic meters. The fact that such an achievement fell to the independent Azerbaijan indicates a real policy and real economy."
Aslanov observed the country is gradually being transformed into an information and communications center of the region and it is an important component of modern development. "Azerbaijan has become an important link for East and West as a regional center, and we are no longer a bridge, which plays the role of just a transit country. We, as a regional center, ourselves determine the future effectiveness of these projects, in which we are actively involved, "he said.
Activity in foreign policy
Aslanov considers activity in foreign policy as the third important aspect of the country's development in 2010.
During the current period of 2010, the Azerbaijani President has made 17 foreign trips. This indicates the intensity of implementation of national foreign policy, Aslanov said.
We are always on the move, we're developing and striving to improve Azerbaijan's position in the world. In this case, of course, the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remains a priority issue on the President's agenda, he said.
On the other hand, a basis for transformation of the country into an intellectual center of the region has started to be laid in Azerbaijan from the second half of 2010.
"Our task is to ensure that the regional discussions in the sphere of international relations were conducted here. The First Annual Symposium of Researchers in the field of International Relations, which was held in Baku and attended by more than 60 experts from 27 countries, is a striking example. By the way, the Second International Symposium will be held in Azerbaijan in September 2011. It is still unclear whether it will be held in Baku or in the regions," he said.
Along with this, Azerbaijan is a space of dialogue of cultures and religions, and the Baku Summit of Religious Leaders of the World held in 2010 is just one more confirmation of that, Aslanov said.
Thus, only a small statement of the major works of the end of 2010 already speaks for itself, he reflected. "There are, of course, more work needed regarding issues of domestic policy, and overall regional issues. But a brief analysis certainly allows us to say that the President's extremely active and busy schedule made this year for Azerbaijan quite successful," Aslanov said.
The resolution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict requires more active participation not only of the Minsk Group, but of the world community in general, Aslanov believes.
"The occupation of the Azerbaijani territory, the total denial by the Armenian side of the supremacy of law over force can not be perceived as something natural. Therefore, the Azerbaijani President repeatedly stressed that our patience has its limits. How long can one tolerate the legal nihilism of international organizations, which are limited to only a statement of the occupation of the Azerbaijani territories? This is important, but it is not enough. It is necessary to have the will and once again put the principles of international law on the priority shelf in the international agenda," Aslanov said.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian Armed Forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan since 1992, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and 7 surrounding districts.
Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group - Russia, France, and the U.S. - are currently holding peace negotiations.
Armenia has not yet implemented the U.N. Security Council's four resolutions on the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding regions.
"If the world talks about a new order, which is today being formed, then it must be just and based on principles, which ensure the priority of law, but not force. Otherwise, force sooner or later will provoke more force. It only needs time, and time today is in favor of Azerbaijan," Aslanov said.
Azerbaijani youth's tasks abroad
Those who live, work and study abroad face some problems, the head of the department of the Azerbaijani Presidential Administration said.
"This mission arises from understanding the essence of the national idea. Every Azerbaijani must clearly understand his or her role of representing not only their own but also the national interests, " he said.
He indicated in the main, the major interest today is to inform the world about the Karabakh conflict, the just position of Azerbaijan, and the historic essence of the matter. "It is necessary to talk about it to all, everywhere and always. It is a part of public diplomacy, and the offensive policy, repeatedly voiced by President Aliyev, he said.
He said that students studying abroad must actively use their full potential at conferences and round tables, various presentations. For every teacher, every university student, in dorms, neighbors, friends and colleagues should know more about the Karabakh problem .
"Today, friends of our students studying abroad are the future diplomats, politicians, state figures, businessmen and public figures. It is important for our problem to be better understood by all who surround us. Step by step, stage by stage, we must implement an offensive foreign policy, " he said.
He felt that every student abroad is part of our information weaponry, an important element of our confrontation with misinformation, which our enemy is not going to stop proliferating. "Therefore, Armenia must understand that in the near future it will face even greater pressure and more energy, aimed at informing the world about the reality of the Armenian occupation and suppression of life," he said.
Priorities for Azerbaijani internal and foreign policy in 2011
The priorities for Azerbaijani domestic and foreign policy in 2011 will involve a democratization and a continuation of the multi-vector foreign policy, implemented within the last decade, he said.
He believed that the priorities for Azerbaijan include improving the welfare of citizens, to continue implementing regional development, and to stabilize and improve the ecological situation.
It is evident that Azerbaijan's economy will develop more intensively over the coming years because the basis has already been formed, Aslanov said.
He said that next year the society should think about intensifying the offensive foreign policy stressed by President Aliyev. A significant role belongs to society and the civil sector, because the theses on the offensive foreign policy, as declared by the President, is not only the state's task, he noted.
From now on, every citizen must understand and realize their task and mission, Aslanov said.
Another important priority for next year is strengthening the mediation mission of international organizations in the peaceful settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, he said.
"It will be difficult to protract it for a long time. The new and younger generation, both in Azerbaijan and Armenia, will look at the conflict differently. It will be difficult to resolve the issue then. Today, it is necessary to use this potential until there is an opportunity to bring peace to the Caucasus land, " he said.