Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the7th Summit of Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States15 october 2019, 12:45
Thank you, dear Sooronbai Sharipovich.
Having taken over chairmanship in the Turkic Council from Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan will make every effort in the coming period to strengthen the friendship and cooperation among our countries. The common roots that connect us, our history, culture and national values are an important basis for mutually beneficial activities. The development of cooperation between Turkic-Speaking States is one of the priority areas of Azerbaijan’s foreign policy.
The Seventh Summit of the Turkic Council coincides with the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Nakhchivan agreement. The summit of the heads of state held in the ancient Azerbaijani city of Nakhchivan in October 2009 set up a new institutional format for cooperation among our countries. Zangezur is located between the main part of Azerbaijan and the Nakhchivan region. The withdrawal of Zangezur from the rest of Azerbaijan and its accession to Armenia divided the great Turkic world geographically. However, thanks to the decisions we made in Nakhchivan and our joint work, we have further strengthened the unity of the Turkic world and will continue our brotherhood. In this sense, the decision to set up the Turkic Council during the summit held in Nakhchivan is also of tremendous significance for the Turkic world.
Over the past 10 years, the Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States as an organization has come a long way in development. The Council plays an important role in the development of cooperation among our countries in the political, economic, transport, humanitarian spheres, in the fields of tourism, information and communication technologies, etc. The relations of the Turkic Council with influential international organizations are expanding. Currently, fruitful cooperation is being maintained with such entities as the United Nations, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the OSCE, the Organization for Economic Cooperation. TURKSOY, the Fund for Turkic Culture and Heritage, the Turkic Academy. This plays an important part in studying our rich cultural heritage and promoting our material and cultural values in the world.
By my executive order, 2019 was declared a “Year of Nasimi” in Azerbaijan. Another Nasimi festival has recently been completed. It is gratifying that TURKSOY has declared 2019 a Year of Nasimi to commemorate the 650th anniversary of brilliant Azerbaijani poet Imadaddin Nasimi.
The Parliamentary Assembly of Turkic-Speaking Countries works successfully and cooperates with a number of inter-parliamentary organizations. Cooperation in such fields as culture, science, education, tourism, youth and sports serves to further deepen the friendly and fraternal ties between our peoples.
Our summits are traditionally dedicated to topics which cover various areas of cooperation. The theme of our current event, “Development of Small and Medium Enterprises”, is of great relevance. In 2017, the Agency for the Development of Small and Medium-sized Enterprise was established in Azerbaijan. The objective of this agency is to support the development of small and medium-sized enterprises. A strong class of entrepreneurs with broad business opportunities has emerged in the country and abroad. To date, the Entrepreneurship Development Fund has provided 36,000 entrepreneurs with low-interest loans worth $1.4 billion. In 2018, the private sector’s share in the gross domestic product of our country amounted to 85 percent.
Over the past 16 years, Azerbaijan’s economy has more than tripled. More than $270 billion has been invested in the country, half of which is foreign. Azerbaijan is a state with a small external debt. Azerbaijan’s external debt accounts for only 17 percent of the gross domestic product. According to this indicator, we are in ninth place in the world.
The reforms carried out in the economic sphere are also approved by international organizations. The World Bank’s Doing Business report ranks Azerbaijan among top 20 most reforming countries. Azerbaijan is currently one of biggest investors in the Turkish economy. Thus, Azerbaijan’s investment in the Turkish economy is $15 billion and Turkey’s investment in the Azerbaijani economy is $12 billion.
The transport cooperation among our countries, historically located on the ancient Silk Road, is one of the important directions, of course. Azerbaijan is an active participant in the East-West transport corridor. The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, commissioned in October 2017, is our joint contribution to the restoration of the historic Silk Road. The cargo handling capacity of the Baku International Sea Port is 15 million tons of cargo and 100,000 containers. If necessary, the cargo handling capacity of the port can be increased to 25 million tons and 1 million containers. Azerbaijan as a reliable transit country continues its efforts to facilitate the access of Turkic-speaking countries to world markets. In 2018, 8 million tons of cargo was transported from Turkic-speaking countries through Azerbaijan.
We attach great importance to cooperation in the energy sector. Azerbaijan offers its opportunities in this area too. A portion of the energy resources of our partners from Central Asia is transported to world markets via Azerbaijan.
We must intensify our efforts to attract foreign tourists to our countries and encourage the flow of tourists among our countries. In the nine months of 2019, a total of 2,400,000 tourists visited Azerbaijan, of which 330,000 were people from Turkic-speaking countries. In the same period of 2018, this figure was 285,000.
Cooperation among our countries in the field of security is also expanding. Last month, the 22nd meeting of the Conference of Secret Services of Turkic-Speaking States was held in Baku. Cooperation in this area is important from the point of view of strengthening the security of our countries and ensuring regional stability.
As you know, there is no progress in the settlement of Azerbaijan’s most painful problem, the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, because of Armenia’s destructive policy. For about 30 years, Armenia, flagrantly violating the norms and principles of international law, has continued its aggressive policy against Azerbaijan. A policy of ethnic cleansing has been carried out in the occupied territories, more than a million of our compatriots have found themselves in the position of refugees and internally displaced persons. In these territories, the historical and cultural heritage belonging to the Azerbaijani people, Islamic monuments and mosques have been destroyed and razed to the ground.
Armenia is trying to establish close cooperation with Muslim countries. However, having destroyed mosques sacred to Muslims around the world, Armenia cannot be a friend of Muslim countries. This vandalism against our religion shows the Islamophobic essence of Armenia.
Four resolutions of the UN Security Council have been adopted in relation to the conflict, and they contain an unequivocal demand for an unconditional and complete withdrawal of occupying forces from Azerbaijani lands. Similar decisions and resolutions have been adopted by the Non-Aligned Movement, the OSCE, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, NATO, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe and other organizations. Armenia ignores the requirements of these resolutions and decrees and evades fulfillment of its international obligations.
Nagorno-Karabakh is historical and original Azerbaijani land. It is an integral part of Azerbaijan. The conflict must be resolved within the framework of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan in accordance with the norms and principles of international law. The final statements of the summits of the Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States also constantly express support for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and inviolability of state borders. Taking this opportunity, I want to thank our partners who support a fair settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict within the framework of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.
From today, Azerbaijan takes over chairmanship of the Turkic Council. Let me assure you that during chairmanship in the organization, Azerbaijan will continue its efforts to further deepen cooperation among our countries both at bilateral and multilateral levels.