Ilham Aliev: Azerbaijan is respected all around the world

Azerbaijan is proud to be one of the world centers of multiculturalism, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev said today at a round table titled ‘Hidden problems of Eurasia’ at the Munich Security Conference, the head of the European bureau of Vestnik Kavkaza, Orhan Sattarov, being present at the event, reports. 

"Azerbaijan is located between Asia and Europe. Our geographical position literally defines the geopolitical situation in our region. For centuries, Azerbaijan was a country, a place, where the civilizations meet, and we maintain our historical heritage  up today, being proud of the fact that we became one of the world centers of multiculturalism. A geographical position and at the same time good relations with neighbors allows us to be a very reliable partner in the region. This allows the country to promote initiatives that benefit people, living in our region,’’ Ilham Aliev emphasized.

In a short time the young country has managed to gain the respect of the world's major powers. "Azerbaijan is a reliable partner in the international arena. We are a young country, the previous year we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the restoration of independence. During this short period, Azerbaijan has become a country that is respected around the world. The best proof of this was the fact that several years ago, Azerbaijan was elected as a non-permanent member of the UN security Council. It became a real proof of the appreciation of our activities by the major part of the international community, as well as proof of trust and respect,’’ the President of Azerbaijan said.

In economic terms, the republic introduced reforms, and transformed from the planned to the market economy model. "Today, the share of the market economy is more than 80% of our GDP. Azerbaijan has introduced the new formats of the regional cooperation with our neighbors, we initiated the transport and energy projects over 20 years ago, and today they bring good results not only for us but also for the region,’’ the head of the Azerbaijani state said.

‘’Today, the energy security problems can not be separated from the national security issues. Our policy is aimed at strengthening of the cooperation, especially with our neighbors, along with the Muslim world, as we are the part of both the Muslim world and Europe. Recently, we have started negotiations with the EU on signing a new deal that will affect the main areas of our cooperation,’’ Ilham Aliyev said.

Also, Azerbaijan is one of the few countries that is both a member of the Islamic Cooperation Organization and the Council of Europe. "In 2015, we held the first ever European games. This year we host the Islamic Solidarity Games. All this clearly shows our intentions. We continue to evolve in different cultures and civilizations,’’ the President of Azerbaijan said.

Of course, the key issue, which the republic is concerned with, is the continuing occupation of the Azerbaijani territory. "20% of our territory is occupied by Armenia. UN Security Council adopted four resolutions demanding the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the Armenian troops from our territory, but they remain on paper for more than 20 years. The resolution of all conflicts should be based on the equal principles and approach. The territorial integrity of any country should be respected, shall not be violated, and the internationally recognized borders can not be changed by the military means. The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan is the greatest threat to the region. And our constructive policy aimed at  a peaceful resolution of the conflict based on the UN Security Council resolutions and other important international organizations,’’ the head of the Azerbaijani state concluded.

During the discussion, Ilham Aliyev reminded that Azerbaijan has very good relations with Iran, Russia and Turkey, as the country was the part of these states in different historical periods. "These relations are based on the mutual respect, non-interference in the internal affairs of each other and pragmatism of our national interests. Therefore, the worst case scenario for Azerbaijan is when something bad happens between our neighbors, as happened, for example, in 2008 during the Russian-Georgian war, or during the incident with the downed Russian plane. We saw this as a serious threat to the regional stability, and we need stability, it is the same as we have in Azerbaijan, because we do not live on the island and we care about what is happening on our borders, after all we all are affected - both positively and negatively, " the president said.

In this regard, Azerbaijan has made all possible efforts, trying  to help its neighbors, Russia and Turkey, to find a way out of this crisis. It is well known that Azerbaijan was one of the countries that helped to improve the relations between Russia and Turkey. ‘’In any case, no matter how close relationship we have with one or another country, we are always guided by the main principles of the international law. It is necessary to respect the international law. Those who violate the international laws are wrong, and we always talk about it. We support the territorial integrity of all countries, whose representatives sit with us today here at the same table. We are affected by the violation of the territorial integrity - so the issue of the territorial integrity is sacred for us,’’ he pointed out.

"On the other hand, we try to find out what can be done to reduce the risks. Therefore, the Russian-Turkish conflict was a serious geopolitical risk and risk to all the neighbors. Moreover, these countries  are our main economic partners. That is why, if we can help them to overcome these difficulties, I think we will deserve some trust. And I want to say that Azerbaijan's role as a stability pillar becomes recognized by the international community,’’ Ilham Aliyev said.

Speaking about the recent meeting of the Chiefs of Staff of Russia and the United States in Baku, he noted that Azerbaijan is really the only place where they could meet. "The decision to choose Baku was not initiated by us, we were suggested to host the meeting. Why Azerbaijan was chosen? I asked myself this question, but, looking at the map of Eurasia, I realized that maybe, our country was their only option. We are neither the member of NATO, nor the member of the CSTO, we have a very good reputation in the world, our country has established relationships with the United States, Europe, our neighbors, Russia - and we are respected by each of them. Azerbaijan's role as a factor of stability, not only in our region but also all over the world is recognized, this is our contribution to the regional stability,’’ the President of Azerbaijan said.

”It has been already stated here, that stability is the most important factor in the economic development. If there is no stability, forget about investments, improvement of the living standards and cooperation. Our policy has always been to invest in cooperation through the projects. We have a regional format of cooperation, which has been existing for many years and is very effective - Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey. Together we implement the energy and transport projects, we have reliable allies. On the other hand, today we have a different regional format of cooperation - Azerbaijan- Iran -Russia. Azerbaijan is the only country in the world, which borders Russia and Iran simultaneously, these countries are our natural partners in trade, transport, economic development and in the areas related to security. So I hope that in the future we will integrate existing regional formats in the broader format, and it will benefit all peoples, as we are going to reduce the risks and create more opportunities for cooperation,’’ the head of the Azerbaijani state said.

Returning to the issue of a reconciliation between Russia and Turkey, Ilham Aliyev expressed confidence that the presidents of Russia and Turkey, by assessing what is happening, have taken the correct and wise decision. "It could not last long, because if the conflict had lasted, the consequences would have been completely unpredictable, because the friction was very strong. I spoke with President Erdogan and President Putin. I know that President Nursultan Nazarbayev was actively involved as a mediator and achieved great success in doing this. Of course, this is not a public debate, but I personally know how hard it was for them to come to the normalization. The fact that this happened shows, that these politicians are guided by pragmatism rather than emotion, which should be left behind the office door, when you are the president, because if you come to the office being emotional, you will not achieve success and only create chaos in the country and in the region,’’ he concluded.

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