President Ilham Aliyev chaired a next meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers dedicated to results of socio-economic development in the first half of 2017 and objectives for the future, where he touched upon the main and current issues on the agenda of the country.
President Aliyev said that he was very pleased with the economic indicators for the first six months of the year, in particular, the 1.7 percent growth of the non-oil sector of the economy.
“This is a very good indicator," he stressed. "I particularly note the non-oil economy because the general economic indicator, that is the Gross Domestic Product indicator, depends mainly on oil production and oil prices. And they change. ”
“Therefore, this cannot be the main factor for evaluating our work. The growth of the non-oil economy by 1.7 percent is the result of the economic reforms we implement. I believe this is a very good indicator, especially in present conditions,” he said.
“The non-oil industry grew even more. The growth is 4.4 percent here. I think this is also the best possible indicator. This shows that the reforms and the policy we pursue yield results,” said the president.
The president went on to add that $5 billion was invested in Azerbaijan’s economy in six months of 2017.
Azerbaijan is a land of stability, and investors invest in stable places, he said. "The number of stable countries is reducing dramatically. Therefore, I am sure that in the future, even more foreign investors will appeal us to invest in Azerbaijan.”
“Today capital investments decrease almost in all countries by force of financial difficulties and problems. However, Azerbaijan attracts investments and most of them are foreign investments. That is, Azerbaijan is a very attractive country for foreign investors. Why? Not only because we have good investment environment, but because Azerbaijan is a land of stability and investors make investments only in stable places,” President Aliyev said.
The Azerbaijani president noted that the country’s currency reserves have increased by about $3 billion since early 2017.
“Our currency reserves increased to $40.6 billion. This is also a very good indicator as from the beginning of the year until present, our currency reserves have increased by about $3 billion,” President Ilham Aliyev said.
“Oil prices fell sharply and then rose to a certain extent. It is likely that they will fall again. And our currency reserves increase. This happens thanks to a well thought out policy, because we have never engaged in populism. We have always engaged in long-term development of our country. We both saved up and carried out reforms, and allocated funds only for strategically important projects. Of course, we reduced import and increased export. There is no budget problem. Therefore, transfers from the Oil Fund to the budget decreased. So, the increase of currency reserves in the first six months of the year by $3 billion is an excellent result.”
Azerbaijan-U.S. relations entering new stage
Highlighting the country’s international ties, President Aliyev said that the relations between Azerbaijan and the U.S. are entering a new stage.
He recalled U.S. President Donald Trump’s letter sent to him in connection with the International Caspian Oil and Gas Exhibition and Conference, Caspian Oil and Gas 2017 held in Baku this year.
"This exhibition and conference is one of the world's most outstanding events in the energy sector,” the president said. “The best part is that U.S. President Trump has sent a letter dedicated to this event. Of course, the letter addressed to me raises the significance of the Caspian Oil and Gas Exhibition and Conference and at the same time is the U.S. support for successful energy projects being implemented by Azerbaijan.”
The head of state added that this favorable attitude creates new prerequisites for the successful development of the Azerbaijan-U.S. relations. “My meeting with the U.S. Secretary of State held a few days ago in Istanbul reaffirmed our strategic ties and today the U.S.-Azerbaijan relations are entering a new stage."
Land of stability
Azerbaijan has developed successfully in the first half of 2017, all the tasks have been fulfilled, the country has become even stronger and its international relations have become even deeper, according to President Aliyev.
He said very dangerous trends are further strengthening in the world, adding that there are quite a lot of matters of concern both in the region and in the world.
“Unfortunately, today, conflicts, bloody clashes and crises are featuring the current international panorama. But Azerbaijan is developing successfully. Stability is strengthening in Azerbaijan. The people of Azerbaijan and the unity of people and the government are the source of stability.”
All socio-economic issues are resolved successfully and security measures are at the high level in Azerbaijan, said President Aliyev, adding that Azerbaijan is known in the region and in the world as a place of stability.
“Of course, in these conditions, there is interest in making investments. At the same time, our people live comfortably, the welfare of our people is improving and the Azerbaijani people are building their future in security and tranquility,” added the president.
Speaking about the murder of little Zahra and her grandmother, President Aliyev said that this action demonstrated Armenian fascism, noting that Armenia received a response for this military crime.
“The Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is the major issue in our foreign policy. Unfortunately, no result has been achieved in the negotiations in the first half of this year. At the same time, I believe that there were important developments in 2017 in terms of solution of the conflict and Azerbaijan’s fair position has gained even greater value,” said the president.
The Armenian armed forces, using 82-mm and 120-mm mortars and grenade launchers, shelled the Alkhanli village of Azerbaijan’s Fuzuli region on July 4. As a result of this provocation, the residents of the village Sahiba Allahverdiyeva, 50, and Zahra Guliyeva, 2, were killed. Salminaz Guliyeva, 52, who got wounded, was taken to the hospital and was operated on.
“Another provocation was staged in Alkhanli village of Fizuli district on July 4. This is a military crime. This demonstrates Armenian fascism and Armenia has received a response for this crime. This is an unprecedented atrocity. Murder of little Zahra and her grandmother showed the ugly face of Armenian fascism to the whole world,” said President Aliyev.
The president pointed out that this crime was not left unanswered and the Azerbaijani society is aware of that.
“Although Armenia always wants to conceal its losses, it can’t conceal all of them. Azerbaijani army inflicted destructive strikes on the enemy. Many invaders were killed as a result of these strikes. Little Zahra’s and her grandmother’s blood was avenged. This will always be so. What was this crime considered for? First of all, it shows the essence of the Armenian political leadership. It is impossible to expect anything else from the Khojali killer, baby and woman killer. This is the Armenian fascism and the whole world should accept it this way,” said President Aliyev.
Talking about holding of so-called "referendum" in Nagorno-Karabakh, President Aliyev said that this is big mistake, “more precisely, it is stupidity.” He said that non-recognition of this “referendum” once again proves that Nagorno-Karabakh belongs to Azerbaijan.
With such position, the entire world and the countries directly involved in settlement of the conflict once more affirm that Nagorno-Karabakh is an integral part of Azerbaijan, he added.
As you know, after the April 2016 events Armenia was imposing some conditions to restore the negotiations and was openly stating this, noted the head of state.
“That time, I saw and knew that this was another stupidity, because sooner or later, they will come back to the negotiating table and will simply disgrace themselves for the next time. That happened. Azerbaijani and Armenian foreign ministers met yesterday [July 11]. The process of negotiations has been restored and the Azerbaijani side hasn’t accepted any condition. The negotiation process has been restored without any condition,” said the president. “This is our standpoint. We have always stated that should be in this way. This is also the position of the Minsk Group co-chairing countries. Therefore, they made the invader to return back to the negotiating table.”
President Aliyev noted that the current task is to restore substantive, that’s to say, meaningful, concrete talks.
“Our lands should be liberated and Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity should be restored as a result of the negotiations. This is our position. No other way is possible beyond that,” he added.
President Aliyev said that Armenia has always tried to disrupt the negotiations and to stage provocations when facing with increasing pressure.
“We are well aware of this from recent history. In late 1990s, a terror attack was committed at the Armenian parliament and this was a pretext for the then Armenian leadership to disrupt the negotiations. So this happened. Immediately after the talks held in France in 2014, Armenia staged another provocation and held military exercises in Aghdam. Our positions were attacked by helicopters and one of them was destroyed by the Azerbaijani army,” he added.
President Aliyev recalled that he and the Armenian president attended the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington in late March 2016.
“That time, pressure was put on the Armenian president to solve the issue as soon as possible,” said the head of state. "To breach the negotiations Armenia committed the “April 2016 events” and staged a provocation against Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani army gave an adequate response to the enemy. As a result of this response, today, our flag is on the liberated lands of Aghdere, Fizuli and Jabrayil districts.”
He added that no talks have been held since then, and Armenia was facing increasing pressure.
In an effort not to commence the negotiations, they staged another provocation last month, killing one Azerbaijani soldier, said the president, adding that the Azerbaijani army punished them again and a lot of invaders were killed as a result of the response strikes.
The head of state said that Azerbaijan can destroy any target in the occupied lands.
“As always we have paid great attention to strengthening our military potential this year. We purchase state-of-the-art weapons and military hardware, from different countries. Part of them has already arrived, and the other part will arrive. This will increase our military potential,” Ilham Aliyev said in his opening speech at the meeting.
“We can destroy any target in the occupied lands, but we should strengthen our military potential. We need this, and we have enough capabilities to do this. Unlike poor Armenia, we buy military hardware by spending our own money and we also produce military hardware in Azerbaijan.”
This year two military plants started to operate in Azerbaijan, according to the President.
“Today Azerbaijan supplies itself with weapons to a great extent, and also exports weapons to foreign countries,” he added.