President Aliyev says int’l institutions can’t cope with their responsibilities

Armenia does not want peace, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said in an interview to “Russia-24” TV channel All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company.

Speaking of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the president said Armenia doesn’t want to resolve the long-lasting issue with Azerbaijan.

“It wants to leave everything as it is and to maintain the status quo,” he said. “Unfortunately, we cannot talk about the success in the negotiation process.”

“Although the presidents of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing countries, namely, Russia, US and France have repeatedly stated that the status quo is unacceptable and must be changed,” the president said.

President Aliyev said the change of the status quo means the de-occupation of Azerbaijan’s territory, which is the main condition for resolving the conflict.

The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts. The two countries signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, Russia, France and the U.S. are currently holding peace negotiations.

President Aliyev said the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict differs from all other conflicts in the post-Soviet area, because there are the UN Security Council resolutions for its solution.

“There are four resolutions, rather than one, requiring immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the Armenian troops from the occupied territories,” President Aliyev said. “They have not been fulfilled for more than 20 years. Unfortunately, there is no mechanism for their implementation, as Armenia simply ignores them. These resolutions must be the basis of the conflict settlement, there is no other way.”

President Aliyev said this year differs from the previous years by the intensive negotiation process.

“The OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing countries in the face of the presidents of these countries have actively participated in the negotiation process,” the president said. “I don’t think it has ever happened before. Russian President Vladimir Putin held a meeting with the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia in Sochi in August. In September, US Secretary of State Kerry held a similar meeting with us, and in late October French President Francois Hollande also invited the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia to meet in Paris. We held bilateral and trilateral discussions.”

The president said besides the settlement of the conflict and the negotiation process, one of the issues was about strengthening the confidence-building measures, the desire to have fewer incidents on the contact line and that the sides’ would trust each other more.

“Both sides – Armenia and Azerbaijan – positively evaluated the meeting in Paris,” Ilham Aliyev said, adding that this was also mentioned in the public comments.

However, just two weeks later Armenia began to hold the so-called military exercises in the occupied part of Azerbaijan, he stressed.

“Moreover, they were holding these exercises not in Armenia, or even within the Nagorno-Karabakh autonomous region, but on the territory of Aghdam district of Azerbaijan, just along the line of contact,” President Aliyev said.

He went on to add that according to the data of the Armenian side, 47,000 servicemen and thousands of types of equipment were involved in the exercises.

“The question is what was the need to arrange provocations immediately after a positive meeting in Paris?” the Azerbaijani president said.

With regard to the efficiency of international institutions in addressing contemporary conflicts, President Aliyev said what is happening in the world demonstrates that international institutions don’t cope with their responsibilities, and perhaps, don’t justify the hopes they are entrusted with.

“This also applies to our case, when for over 20 years the OSCE is like a mediator,” he said. “This also applies to the matters that are within the competence of the UN.”

The president further said that a deformation of international institutions is going on in the world, which is a very alarming and dangerous tendency.

“The leading countries of the world have to say their clear word here not only with statements, but also with respect to the decisions that are taken. Decisions are not made but actions are carried out – we have seen this too many times in the modern world, not so long ago,” the president said.

The president said the collapse of the existing mechanisms of international cooperation will lead to a total chaos.

“I think that in this historical period of time the responsibility falls on the leading countries of the world. They mustn’t violate the international law in the first place. They should support international law and the world order that formed after World War II,” President Aliyev said.

President Aliyev further spoke about the Azerbaijani economy, noting that the world oil price fall will indeed have a negative impact on Azerbaijan’s plans.

President Aliyev said Azerbaijani government has worked out various scenarios, so the country’s economy will steadily grow even at the price of $60 per oil barrel. He did add that the drop in oil price will have a certain influence.

“Of course, these factors will have certain, rather than important, influence,” the president said. “The only negative thing I see is that what we have planned to do in one year we will do within two years. We will just cut budget spending in the non-priority areas, infrastructure projects. It is good that we already implemented these projects in the previous years.”

President Aliyev said that today, the country mainly focuses on the development of the non-oil sector.

“The country expects a three percent growth this year,” the president said. “But when we always calculate GDP, we mainly pay attention to the non-oil sector. And the situation is better – we expect the growth rate of 6-7 percent there this year. It was ten percent in 2013.”

The president said the country expects the growth of 6-10 percent in the non-oil sector of the economy in 2015.

“Today, the oil sector comprises about 45 percent of Azerbaijan’s GDP, which is less than a half,” he said. “Azerbaijan will strengthen these trends in 2015.”

“Ideally, of course, we will strive for oil revenues to hit one-third of the country’s GDP,” the president said. “Then we will consider our diversification policy as successful. The country is on this way, because when we started these programs, the oil factor was almost 80 percent of GDP. At present, it is 45 percent.”

Ilham Aliyev said that last year $28 billion was invested in the Azerbaijani economy, some 70 percent of them being the domestic investments.

The president added that Azerbaijan began to diversify investments a few years ago, and their geography covers Asia, Europe, Russia and the region.

“As for Russia, we’ve made investments in the banking sector, acquired VTB Bank’s shares, as well as a real estate and production,” he said.

“For us, the Russian market is promising, and we will continue to actively invest in it, no matter what the situation is, despite the so-called sanctions,” he said. “Because, first of all, this all is temporary, and, secondly, we need to work to strengthen relations. After all, the investments are not just diversification of own assets, it is also a demonstration of relations and level of cooperation,” the president added.

President Aliyev went on to add that no country will invest state funds where there is no stability and good relations.

“Therefore, for us Russia is a friend, partner, and the investments in Russia will continue. We also, of course, would like to see more investments from Russia to Azerbaijan,” Ilham Aliyev said.

He added that Azerbaijan and Russia have traditional areas of cooperation, which include the power industry, and oil and gas sector.

President Aliyev noted that there is a good potential and an experience of cooperation in the power industry and transportation sector.

“Russia and Azerbaijan are interested in the North-South transport corridor to start functioning more actively,” the Azerbaijani president said. “On our part, we are creating the necessary infrastructure – these are the sea ports, the reconstruction of a railway and a highway. It is the same on the Russian side.”

The president further said there is, of course, a good potential for cooperation in selling the Azerbaijani agricultural products to the Russian markets.

“We are developing the export potential,” President Aliyev said. “In fact, it was a strategic line of our government, but given the current situation and needs for our products on the Russian market, we purposefully began to increase exactly that assortment which Russian consumers need.”

He said there are good prospects in the tourism sector.

“We are seeing an increasing number of tourists from Russia, who come to Azerbaijan,” President Aliyev said.