Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the 2nd "One Belt One Road" Forum in Beijing26 april 2019, 08:30
Ladies and gentlemen.
First of all I would like to express my gratitude to President Xi Jinping for invitation to the forum. We in Azerbaijan consider it as a sign of friendship and partnership between Azerbaijan and China. This year marks the 70th anniversary of foundation of the People’s Republic of China. On this occasion I congratulate President Xi Jinping and the people of China. Over this years the People’s Republic of China has achieved progress and development in all spheres. From the very beginning Azerbaijan supported the belt and road initiative put forward by President Xi Jinping. This initiative not only provides transportation of productivity, it strengthens ties between different countries, serve the course of dialogue and cooperation, creates new opportunities for international treaties. Azerbaijan’s rapid economic development helped us to transform the country. During the last 15 years our economy grew more than three times. 260 billion investments helped us to modernize the country and create a modern infrastructure including the infrastructure in transportation. Azerbaijan has a very low foreign debt around 19 percent of our GDP and our reserves are bigger than foreign debt five times. This year’s economic performance of Azerbaijan demonstrates growth, GDP grew 3 percent, inflation risk 2.1 percent and diversification of economy is one of our main objectives. Azerbaijan has vast oil and gas reserves. We build multiple pipelines to transport our oil and gas to international markets and our main target is to diversify economy, to invest foreign capital and to create sustainable opportunities for growth. As far as diversification is concerned, primarily our attention is aimed at development of industry, agriculture, tourism services and information communications technologies.
Infrastructure projects are very important for us and we used our financial resources to invest in creation of modern infrastructure. Gasification level of Azerbaijan is 95 percent. Azerbaijan is a country which exports electric energy, oil, gas and of course investments in transportation sector is one of our main priorities.
China and Azerbaijan 3 years ago signed a Memorandum of Understanding on jointly promoting the establishment of Silk Way Economic Belt. The creation of modern transportation infrastructure is one of the priorities of Azerbaijan. Using our geographical location we invest in building bridges between Asia and Europe. Despite being a landlocked country we transformed Azerbaijan into one of the international transportation hubs. We have built diversified railroad network connecting us with our neighbors. 15,000 km of roads and highways were built in Azerbaijan during the last 15 years. According to the assessment of the Davos World Economic Forum Azerbaijan is ranked number 34 with respect to the quality of growth. Development of infrastructure is also supported by creation of a very friendly business climate and as I said we have 260 billion of investments half of them are foreign investments and today business climate in Azerbaijan is one of the most advanced in the world. According to the latest report of the World Bank’s Doing Business report Azerbaijan is number 25th with respect to business climate and during one year we increased our position dramatically. Azerbaijan is now among the ten most reformist reformer in the world.
Talking about the transportation infrastructure, I want to add investments in the air transportation. Six international airports is our another contribution to modern transportation infrastructure. Baku Heydar Aliyev International Airport has been awarded with Five Star regional airport rating by International Air transport Rating Organization SKYTRAX. Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railroad inaugurated in 2017, is not only a regional project connecting three countries, it is a project which connects continents.
It is an important link between Asia and Europe and this railroad is important part of East-West transportation corridor. It took us a lot of time together with our partners to complete the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railroad and today this railroad plays very important role in transportation in Eurasia.
Azerbaijan also invested in another important transportation project North-South transportation corridor and the countries situated on East-East and North-South transportation corridors use a territory of Azerbaijan in order to transport their goods. Therefore, our investments in modern transportation infrastructure helps not only to increase our economic potential and to provide services for our friends, partners and neighbors, but also creates a unique opportunity for trade, tourism, transportation and it unites them all, unites countries, the countries become interdependent and this serves to the purpose of peace and stability.
Thus, Azerbaijan became an important transit country with developed transportation infrastructure. After the inauguration of Lapis Lazuli last year it was connected to Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway increasing the transit potential of Azerbaijan. Today Azerbaijan provides transit opportunities for a growing number of countries. Azerbaijan has a largest fleet of 260 ships in the Caspian Sea. There is also a shipyard in Azerbaijan built relatively recently capable of producing all types of vessels. Last year we inaugurated the new International Sea port of Baku capable to transport 15 million tons of cargos and 100000 containers. In the future the transportation capability of the port will grow up to 25 million tons of cargos, including 1 million containers. By creating modern transportation logistic infrastructure we not only transform our country into important transportation hub but also contributed to the cooperation with countries involved in East-West and North-South Corridors. International transportation projects strengthen the cooperation between countries and peoples. The Belt and Road initiative not only create the opportunities in transportation but enhances trade, tourism, people-to-people contacts, serve the cause of stability and security and peace in Eurasia.
Talking about peace and security I would like to mention the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Unfortunately, for many years, for more than 25 year, internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan is under Armenian occupation. As a result of occupation more than one million Azerbaijanis became refuges and IDPs. Our people were subject of ethnic cleansing and the United Nations Security Council adopted 4 resolutions demanding immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian troops from our territory. Unfortunately, these resolutions are not implemented. This is a serious problem not only for our country but for regional stability and regional peace. And the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan must be resolved based on the norms and principles of international law within the framework of territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.
In conclusion once again I am glad to express my sincere gratitude to President Xi Jinping for inviting Azerbaijan to this important forum and I am sure that the participation of Azerbaijan in the future will continue to play its role to build bridges between the peoples and nations. Thank you.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Tajik President Emomali Rahmon had a talk on the sidelines of the forum.
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