Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has said Azerbaijan is already playing an important role for Europe’s energy security.
He made the remarks at the opening ceremony for the 3rd World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue in Baku on May 18.
“Azerbaijan plays a very positive role on the regional scale. Our initiatives are aimed towards strengthening regional cooperation, issues related to energy security,” President Aliyev said.
He added that Azerbaijan’s projects and initiatives go far beyond the region, noting these are the projects that connect countries and continents.
President Aliyev further said if one looks at the transportation infrastructure, Azerbaijan is restoring a historic Silk Road, building a new railroad connection between Europe and Asia.
“We actually invest not only in economic development, and in better transportation facilities, but also in the people-to-people contact,” he said.
The president went on to note that all of Azerbaijani projects related to economic and social development strengthen regional cooperation and mutual understanding between the countries and peoples.
President Aliyev added that Azerbaijan has invested a lot in economic and political transformation.
“When we became independent, we had to build a state, we had to transform political system, and therefore political and economic reforms were implemented in parallel.
We realized that energy resources will not be sufficient to provide Azerbaijan’s sustainable development,” President Aliyev said.
The president underlined that Azerbaijan has been carrying out a very accurate economic policy, based on the country’s natural resources and potential.
“It allowed us to achieve what we’ve planned in the very beginning of our independence,” he said. “That is, economic independence.”
President Aliyev further said Azerbaijan has a very low foreign debt, which comprises only around 10 percent of GDP. The country doesn’t depend on donors, sponsors, or financial assistance from international financial institutions.
“We managed to achieve the maximum degree of energy security of Azerbaijan and now we provide energy security for others,” he said.
During his speech, the president emphasized the importance of education in the modern society.
He said Azerbaijan attaches great importance to education, adding that the young generation of Azerbaijanis wants to get educated.
President Aliyev said education is the best guarantee against terrorism, extremism and fundamentalism, adding that Azerbaijan’s young generation is very patriotic.
Touching upon the negative tendencies, Azerbaijani president pointed out the dangerous trends of the neo-fascist movement, calling on the leaders of the international community to demonstrate a serious attitude to this issue.
Moreover, President Aliyev spoke about the First European Games in Azerbaijan, stressing that hosting this Games in the country was a very wise decision.
He reminded that the country is getting ready to host the Games in less than one month.
“Though it is a big challenge to organize the Games scalable with the Summer Olympic Games only in 2, 5 years, but the decision of the European Olympic Committee to organize it for first time in the world, in Azerbaijan, the country with Muslim population – was one of the wisest decisions of the recent past,” he said.
The president went on to add that Azerbaijan will bring together more than 6,000 European athletes, and the country is currently in the process of finalizing all the preparations for the event.
“The Games are not only a big sports event, but also an event of friendship, partnership. And also opportunity for us to demonstrate our country and our hospitality,” President Aliyev said.
Baku 2015 is the first ever European Games, an exciting and innovative multi-sport event for the continent which will take place on June 12-28.
There will be a total of 20 sports at Baku 2015: 16 Olympic sports and four non-Olympic sports. Baku was awarded the games by the European Olympic Committees (EOC) in December 2012.
The president went on to remind that Azerbaijan will also be hosting the Islamic Solidarity Games in 2017.
“So in two years, one country, one city will host European and Islamic games. That will probably be the only case in the history of European sports,” President Aliyev said.