Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the Renmin University of China

11 december 2015, 08:55

Dear President and vice president of Renmin University,

Dear students and friends,

First of all, I’d like to express my deep gratitude to the leadership of the university for awarding me with this honorary degree of professor. I consider it as a sign of friendship between our countries.

Friendship between China and Azerbaijan has a long history, our peoples have communicated during the different times of our history. As an independent country Azerbaijan, for twenty-three years since the establishment of bilateral relations with China we have actively cooperated in different areas.

My state visit to China is coming to an end today. I started the visit in the ancient city of Xian. I had an opportunity to visit the museum of Terracotta Warriors, and once again to see great culture, traditions and history of your people. This once again demonstrates that during ages of history of the Chinese people you created masterpieces, you created history and your modern success is based on that historical legacy.

Relations between our countries today developed very successfully and I am very satisfied with the result of my state visit. During these several days, which I spent in your beautiful country, I had meetings with the senior leadership of China. During these meetings, discussions and negotiations were held in an atmosphere of friendship, partnership and mutual understanding. We once again agreed that we need to continue positive developments in our relations. We are friendly countries. We have a strong mutual will to develop and deepen our bilateral relations. We have excellent political relations, and my state visit to China once again proved that we support each other in many areas.

We support each other in international organizations. Azerbaijan is strongly committed to the principle of one-China. China, in its turn, supports Azerbaijan with respect to resolution of Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict based on principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and based on the implementation of resolutions of United Nations. These and many other important aspects of our bilateral relations were reflected in the joint declaration which chairman Xi Jinping and myself signed yesterday. Apart from this very important political document, nine other agreements were signed making a total of 10 agreements which were signed yesterday, covering many areas of economic, political and social development and cooperation between our countries.

We have a very active cooperation in United Nations. Azerbaijan became - with the support of China - the partner for dialogue in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization this year.

We actively cooperate in economic area. Recently the joint intergovernmental commission was held here in China and that commission was addressing the issues which found their resolution during my visit. It was a commission to prepare my state visit.

Azerbaijan joined the Chinese initiative and became a co-founder of the Asian Bank of Infrastructure and Investment. This is also a very good sign of our economic cooperation. Many Chinese companies are actively working in Azerbaijan. I, during my visit, visited two companies: one car factory in Xian which has already exports to Azerbaijan, and is increasing the export to our country; and yesterday I visited the office of Huawei corporation, which also actively works in Azerbaijan. We want to see more Chinese companies in our country. I also underlined during my meetings with the senior leadership of China that we want more companies to work in different areas of Azerbaijan, in infrastructure, in construction. Of course, we would like to see Chinese companies as investors, because in Azerbaijan we have a very good investment climate.

We have very good prospects for cooperation in the area of transportation. We fully support the initiative of chairman Xi Jinping on the creation of the economic belt of the Silkroad. Azerbaijan is contributing to the creation of very modern transportation infrastructure in our country. And I can tell you that this August, the first container train from China came to Azerbaijan across the Caspian Sea. Yesterday we broadly discussed the prospects of cooperation in the area of transportation. Geographical location of Azerbaijan makes our country a center of the transit of goods from Europe to Asia, from Asia to Europe. We are investing now in modernization of our railroads, creation of the biggest Sea port in the Caspian and also railroad connection between Azerbaijan and Europe which hopefully will be in operation next year. The construction of Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railroad will connect Asia and Europe, create railroad connection missing now to assemble the historical Silk Road. This transportation route will be the shortest to bring goods from China to Europe and from Europe to China.

In other words, our cooperation is very broad. It covers political area, area of international relations. We have very close cooperation, as I said, in international organizations. We concentrate on practical issues of our economic cooperation and with the transportation initiatives, of course, we create a good opportunity for cooperation between a number of countries. Economic and transportation projects unite the countries, they bring economic dividends, they create better conditions for mutual understanding between different countries. Countries may have different foreign policy priorities, different views on what’s happening in the world, and this is natural. But, through economic cooperation, through broad, regional cooperation, we can create better conditions for mutual understanding. Our position is based on that, and in many areas the views of China and Azerbaijan coincide.

We jointly fight against terrorism, extremism, radicalism. We promote the values of multiculturalism and try to contribute to the reduction of tensions in the world and in our region. We are very satisfied with the current status of bilateral relations between our countries, and I am sure that good results of the visit, documents signed, especially the joint declaration between China and Azerbaijan, will be a good basis for future development. The joint declaration covers almost all the aspects of our joint activity, political, economic, issues related to conflict resolution, transportation, cultural dimension.

We want to have more active cooperation in the area of education and as we discussed with Mr. President, after awarding me with the honorary professorship, I am sure, more young people from Azerbaijan would like to come to study in Renmin University, which is one of the leading universities of your country. So, I am leaving your country with good memories, with good results and I am sure that in the coming years we will see the practical implementation of the agreements. Also today I’d like to tell a little bit about Azerbaijan, the development, the plans of our country. Azerbaijan is a very ancient land. Throughout the centuries our people created values and a lot of historical places in Azerbaijan reflect the great history of our nation. Azerbaijan is situated on the historical Silk Road and is closely connected with the European and Asian continents. Actually, it is situated in the middle of Eurasia. But as an independent country we are very young - only twenty-four years. And these years were the years of transformation, development, modernization, and we achieved substantial results.

Today Azerbaijan is an active member of the international community. We were elected to United Nations Security Council with the support of 155 countries, including China, four years ago. That was a reflection of broad international support to Azerbaijan and appreciation of our activity on international arena. Azerbaijan’s economy is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. During the last ten years, our GDP grew more than three times. That allowed us to invest a lot in infrastructure, including social infrastructure, and allowed us to reduce dramatically the level of unemployment, which is now around five percent. Rapid economic growth created more opportunities for our country. Today Azerbaijan is also an investor. Outside, we invest in other countries and economic and financial stability, of course, is one of the most important elements of our political independence. Because we are only twenty-four years old as an independent country, we are a young country, a country which values its independence more than anything else.

Among the problems which we are facing the main problem is the occupation of our territory by Armenia. United Nations Security Council, more than twenty years ago, adopted four resolutions demanding immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian troops from Azerbaijan’s territory. But unfortunately Armenia continues to ignore these resolutions. United Nations Security Council is the highest international body in the world. And resolutions which were adopted are based on international law, justice. But, still, almost twenty percent of the internationally recognized territories of Azerbaijan is under occupation. More than one million people of Azerbaijan are refugees and internally displaced. We were a subject of ethnic cleansing, and historic land of Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh and seven districts surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh are under occupation for more than twenty years. We have a ceasefire regime since 1994. But it doesn’t mean peace. Peace will be achieved when our lands are freed and our refugees and IDPs are able to return to their homes. The conflict must be resolved only based on the norms and principles of international law, territorial integrity, sovereignty of Azerbaijan and implementation of security resolutions of United Nations. In the joint declaration which we signed today with chairman Xi Jinping all these approaches are reflected. And we are very grateful to China for this approach in resolution of this conflict.

Despite this major problem Azerbaijan is rapidly developing. We have energy resources, and, of course, it helps us to accumulate financial resources. But now when the oil price dropped almost three times within one year, of course, it’s time to demonstrate capability.

And Azerbaijan is demonstrating good governance. Among the oil producing countries we are one of the few which still continues to develop. This year we expect economic growth around four percent despite a very serious reduction of our incomes. That was achieved mainly due to the policy of diversification of economy. We opened the doors for investment. Per capita foreign direct investment in Azerbaijan is on a very high level. We invested our own funds to create industrial sites, to create infrastructure and to invite investors to Azerbaijan. Diversification of economy proves to be successful and we hope to see more Chinese companies work with us, especially in the areas of industrial production, in the areas of information technologies, high technologies, agriculture, and many other areas. Because having such good friendly relations between our countries we need to add a very important economic component. Azerbaijan, from the point of view of investment, is a very attractive country. Foreign investments are duly protected in our country.

So the country is developing, we have big plans for the future. Our goal is to transform Azerbaijan into a developed country of the world. I think we have good opportunities for that.

We pay big attention to education because this is the future of every country. It is not natural resources, but education, the intellectual level of society, which drives economies and demonstrates the success of the country. And in this area we want to have a more active cooperation with China. As I said we want to see more cooperation between Renmin University and our universities because education for us is one of the main priorities. We have a literacy of almost hundred percent, and our main goal is to have such education which will allow Azerbaijan to develop regardless of temporary difficulties with respect to the price of energy resources. Our main goal was to create a strong non-energy sector of our economy, to develop technology, to invest in education, science and to create a better life for our people. Therefore, our economic reforms were backed by a strong social policy, and reduction of poverty and unemployment demonstrates that it was a successful policy. So, this is briefly about our development.

As I said, our plans for the future are based on our national interests. We want to have peace in the region. We are investing our political efforts in the reduction of tensions. As I said, we are actively combating international terrorism, radicalism, separatism. We are proud of having a multicultural society where all the representatives of all religions and ethnic groups live in peace and harmony. Azerbaijan is already considered as one of the centers of multiculturalism in the world. This is our big asset and we want to promote these values.

Once again, I’d like to express my gratitude for this high degree of honorary professor. I am now a member of your family, and I will always keep this badge. I hope that we will see you in Baku. I already invited the leadership, and now I want to invite the students to come and to know our country, and to strengthen our friendship. Thank you very much.