President Ilham Aliyev: “Azerbaijan is an independent country which pursues independent policy, has good position in the region and looks ahead with great hopes”

President Ilham Aliyev: “Azerbaijan is an independent country which pursues independent policy, has good position in the region and looks ahead with great hopes”
# 28 January 2011 08:54 (UTC +04:00)
We are working in the field of energy and transportation,” President Ilham Aliyev said during the joint Austria-OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) lunch on the sidelines of the 41st World Economic Forum in Davos, APA reports quoting AzerTAj agency.

President said Azerbaijan’s geographical position is very advantageous.
“Now we are working on East-West, North-South transportation corridors. The railway between Turkey and Azerbaijan does not only connect these two countries, actually, it is the connection between Europe and Asia. This will pave the way for new reliable alternatives and will be an effective, beneficial route for all sides,” he said.

The head of state said Azerbaijan is known as an oil country.
“This is true. The first oil in the world was produced in Azerbaijan in the 19th century. The first oil from offshore fields was also produced in Azerbaijan. Today we are working on a number of important projects on diversification. We have got three oil and four gas pipelines to transport our energy resources to the international markets. We discovered huge gas fields. They allow us to be a great gas exporter. We are exporting natural gas to the neighboring countries. We have plans to increase the production and find new markets. Azerbaijan has 2.2 trillion cubic meters of proven reserves of gas and, as chairman of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said, it will be sufficient for us for more than 100 years.”

President underlined that Azerbaijan has modern diversified transportation infrastructure.
“Now we are working to determine new markets. Actually, we know the places of these markets. But we should bring together the interests of producing, transit and consuming countries so that this project is mutually beneficial. Of course, energy resources give us additional assurance. They allow us to invest in the non-oil sector and we are doing this work successfully. Diversification and modernization of economy is our main target.”

President noted that Azerbaijan’s economic growth was very rapid.
“GDP grew 2.8 times within the past seven years. This approximately makes up 300 percent. In 2009 when crisis happened and the oil price fell by four times, our economy grew 9.3 percent, last year 5 percent. The present growth is not so big, but sustainable. The structure of GDP is diversified and more attractive. One of our achievements is the reduction of poverty. It was directly connected with our economic reforms, because energy sector does not create a lot of jobs. Therefore, turning the funds from the oil sector to the non-oil sector allowed us to diversify our economy to a certain extent and reduce 49 percent poverty that existed seven years ago to 9 percent.
This number will be lower next years”, said Aliyev.

“We invest big resources in education sphere. World Economic Forum highly assesses Azerbaijani economy from viewpoint of competitiveness. Currently, we work on sectors of economy which will provide us with successful and durable future. We see Azerbaijan’s future as dynamic and developed country with good position in the region and good relations with its neighbors, including a strategic relationship with Europe”.

The President reminded that Azerbaijan joined the EU’s Eastern Partnership program. “We work together with our European partners for realization of this program which covers all spheres of our life. We conduct economic and political reforms in parallel. Of course for establishment of sustainable economy and strong policy, as well as to modernize the country, we must work more in political and economic reforms sphere”, he said.

The head of state said that this year Azerbaijan would mark 20th anniversary of its independence: “We have faced a lot of difficulties during this period, especially during the first years of our independence. Part of our lands was occupied by Armenia. But we were able to mobilize our efforts and did not miss good opportunity. From economic and political standpoint, today Azerbaijan is an independent country which pursues independent policy, has good position in the region and looks ahead with great hopes”.

The President noted that Azerbaijan wants peace inside and outside the country, supports strong relations with Europe and international financial institutions: “I think that the experience we gained in the sphere of attracting foreign investments may be useful for countries taking their first steps on this way. We had to create a very favorable investment climate. $ 95 USD has been invested in Azerbaijan over the past 15 years. Half of these investments - is foreign investment. We have developed a strong legal framework for investment protection, all our major energy contracts are approved by the Parliament and are signed by the President in order to gain the force of law. It means that we do not have the right to change the terms of these contracts, even if we want it. And this is the most important factor, because investors, especially foreign investors in our region, should be strongly sure that the investment will be secured, and no one will try to change the terms of the signed contracts. I once more thank all the organizers, especially our Austrian friends. I would like to point out that we are satisfied with good political and economic relations between Austria and Azerbaijan. At present, Austrian companies are engaged in construction of hotel and ski resort in our country. They are investing in our economy, and I hope that these positive trends will continue”.