Weekly actual topics in Azerbaijan (Oct. 21-25)

Diversification- priority in Azerbaijani economic development for coming years

Azerbaijan achieved impressive successes both in political and economic spheres in the past ten years, according to both statistics and international experts. It is noteworthy that according to the World Economic Forum, the country's economy ranks the 39th place in the world.

At the end of last week, during his inaugural speech, the Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in fact determined the priorities of the country's development for the coming years. The head of the state stressed that a diversification policy is pursued and will be pursued in the economic sphere.

Today, the energy sphere still plays an important role in the country's economy. The lion's share of the country's development stems from the energy sector. However, the head of the state set a goal to increase the non-oil economy by twofold over the next ten years (this figure increased by 10 per cent in 2012). This will allow making Azerbaijan's economy more flexible, sustainable, meeting the modern requirements, as well as will significantly decrease the dependence on oil sector.

Nevertheless, namely the diversification of the country's energy sector by creating various routes for delivering oil and gas to international markets and the sustainable electricity system ensured not only Azerbaijan's, but also the neighboring countries' energy security.
Apparently, the projects under the diversification policy will require large investments, the development of human resources and use of new technologies that will be a new round of the republic's development.

Currently, the country has even greater tasks. Being a reliable oil supplier, Azerbaijan intends to contribute to gas supply to Europe in coming years. The head of the state stressed that TANAP and the Trans-Adriatic pipeline projects that must be implemented within five years have a special place among the country's strategic projects.

"The implementation of these projects will turn Azerbaijan into a very important international player in the coming decades," President Ilham Aliyev said.

The country's internal economic policy first of all has a social orientation. And the social policy will remain as priority in subsequent years. In particular, work on "reducing poverty, improving the impoverished's living standards and other social programs will continue and the creation of a new social structure should be continued".

Figures also show this. Around 1.2 million new working places were opened in Azerbaijan in the past ten years, the unemployment stands at the level of approximately five per cent, poverty has reduced by almost ten times (from 49 per cent to 5.5 per cent), the average wage increased by 5.6 times and the average pension by 9.2 per cent. In recent ten years about 2,700 schools, nearly 500 hospitals, some 35 Olympic centers were built and historical monuments were restored.

Programs for reducing poverty, improving the people's living standards living under the poverty conditions and other social programs will be implemented and the creation of a new social infrastructure will continue in subsequent years.

In his inaugural speech, the head of the state pointed out the following issue as priority: "all products that can be produced in Azerbaijan must be produced in Azerbaijan".

Currently, an industrialization policy is being pursued in Azerbaijan. New enterprises are opened both by the state and the private sector. New large enterprises will be opened in the country in subsequent years, which in fact will become new industrial centers. By launching the first satellite Azerspace-1, Azerbaijan entered the list of space powers.

Great attention is also paid to food security that must be completely ensured. The head of state said that during the next five years, Azerbaijan should do so that the main food commodity would be produced in Azerbaijan for 100 per cent.

"We have both opportunities and concrete proposals for these and funds will also be considered. Measures related to agriculture will also be taken in the future. Large irrigation projects are implemented and thus, the best conditions will be created for the farmers," Ilham Aliyev said.

Today, Azerbaijan is the initiator of all the largest economic projects of the region.

Alongside oil and gas pipeline projects, transport corridors and infrastructure facilities, electricity exchange and export systems can also be put as an example.

Thus, in subsequent years, Azerbaijan's successful economic cooperation will benefit and contribute to the development of other countries in the region and the continent that have close trade and economic relations with the republic.

"I want to reiterate that Azerbaijan will continue to play its role in regional and international cooperation as a reliable partner. I reiterate, all of our foreign policy initiatives are built on friendship and cooperation," President Ilham Aliyev stressed.

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