Ilham Aliyev: ”The Armenian economy can grow significantly only after the liberation of the occupied territories”
The current development of Azerbaijan is an example of the ability to combine national traits, identity, openness to the world and, first of all, the relations with neighbors, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said summing up 2018 in an interview with Russia 24 TV Channel.
According to him, in Azerbaijan, there are more than 340 schools where the studies are conducted in Russian and more than 3 thousand schools where the Russian language is taught: "For comparison, I can say that there are about 4.5 thousand schools in the country. That is, the absolute majority of our schools teach Russian, and more than in 340 schools, the studies are in Russian, and the number of these schools is growing. In this case, our policy of preserving the Russian language brings good results. I often visit schools, especially on the eve of the new school year, and I see that the new Russian branches are being created, and there is such a need. Of course, every citizen of the country must, first of all, know his own state language, and there are no problems with this in Azerbaijan. The state language is Azerbaijani, and all paperwork is conducted in Azerbaijani, as it should be. But knowledge of the Russian language is both a need and a tribute to our historical ties. Today I see how it is in demand in society. About a million Russians come to our country because they feel comfortable here. And this is very important. Therefore, our policy to preserve the Russian language, to create the best conditions for its development is absolutely correct, and we see the positive results."
According to the President of Azerbaijan, paying tribute to the Russian language, the country does not in any way impair its own language: “It is simply impossible. I believe that today's development of Azerbaijan is an example of the ability to combine national traits, identity, openness to the world and, first of all, the relations with our neighbors. In recent years, we have created two branches of leading Russian universities - the Lomonosov Moscow State University and the Sechenov Medical Academy, where the studies are also conducted in Russian by the teachers from Russia. Therefore, the cultural and humanitarian sphere, the educational sphere - these are the spheres that will constantly contribute to maintaining the relations between our countries and peoples. You noted that 27 years have passed since the Soviet Union collapsed and a new generation has grown up. Of course, we want our citizens to know both Russian and English, first of all, of course, our native language. They should know as many languages as possible so they can easily communicate without an interpreter.’’
Answering the question about his expectations from 2019, Ilham Aliyev assured: "In 2019, our country will develop progressively. The reforms we are implementing will manifest themselves in 2019. We will complete the transformation process of the Azerbaijani economy, therefore, I think that all plans will be implemented in terms of economic development. The state budget has already been adopted. It is socially oriented, as usual, so all social programs will be implemented. Next year, we also plan to commission more than 4 thousand apartments for internally displaced persons and refugees, and more than 800 apartments for families of those who were killed in the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. That is, the social orientation of our economy will be very significant.
Also in 2019, I think, the important steps will be taken to turn Azerbaijan into an international transport hub. Today, the North-South and East-West projects pass through the territory of our country. We are the only country that participates in these two projects, and the number of countries that join these projects is growing every year. We have created the most modern transport infrastructure in Azerbaijan - rail transportation, shipping, air transportation, built 6 international airports, roads. I can say that, according to the Davos Economic Forum, Azerbaijan ranks 34th in the world for the quality of highways. This is a fairly high indicator, which shows how much attention we pay to these projects. As a chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement, we will actively work in the international arena and provide support to member countries."
The President of Azerbaijan expressed hope, that in 2019 there will be positive movements in the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict: ”I think that the events of this spring in Armenia are an indicator of the futility of the policy of maintaining the status quo on the part of Armenia. Over the years, we have come a very long way in development, and the balance of the economic potential and all other components between Azerbaijan and Armenia has long been broken. I think our policy to increase economic potential, energy and transport projects in a certain extent became the reason for what happened in Armenia. In addition to all other issues that troubled the Armenian society, one of the factors behind the spring events was the difficult socio-economic situation in which Armenia appeared or trapped itself in. And this, I am deeply convinced, occurred as a result of the unresolved Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Therefore, I think that there will be more understanding from the side of the Armenian society and the authorities, that only with a fair settlement of the conflict, only after the liberation of the occupied territories, the Armenian economy will grow significantly. Otherwise, I think that it will be hard to expect serious socio-economic transformations in Armenia.
That is, we see the results of our policy, we always wanted and still want to resolve the conflict through the negotiations. But for this, we need very serious levers. We have been and will continue to pursue a policy of demonstrating what advantages peace will bring to the region and what difficulties will exist in Armenia if there is no peace. I am deeply convinced that the only way for the new Armenian leadership to be able to carry out all its plans to transform the country is to resolve the conflict with Azerbaijan. And for this, they need to de-occupy the territories that do not belong to them and to make sure that hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis return to their lands. Therefore, we hope that there will be more understanding in this regard. I can not guess, as they say, time will tell. But we will consistently pursue the policy of which I spoke, as far as it brings results. "