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Azerbaijan’'s position expressed at Munich Security Conference

Azerbaijan’'s position expressed at Munich Security Conference
President Ilham Aliyev: “Falling oil prices will further motivate us to carry out more serious reforms”

52nd Munich Security Conference that kicked off last week has been concluded. Head of states, governments and other officials have discussed various topics ranging from security crisis, limited opportunities, weak international order at the conference. Participants focused on issues such as Europe’s response to refugee crisis, Syrian war and the future of security in Europe, stability in Sub-Saharan countries, cybersecurity and so on. Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev also visited Germany to attend the Munich Security Conference. Our president took part in an Energy Security Roundtable on the Geopolitics of Low Oil Prices as part of the conference. Azerbaijani president shared his opinions on oil prices and how it affects oil producing countries, as well as the current state of oil market and future objectives and has answered questions on these issues. 
Main goal is to diversify the export potential 
Ilham Aliyev stated that the countries in our region are oil producers. As for our country, he noted that development of the oil sector and investing in oil and gas played an important role in the first years of our independence. According to him, in the last 20 years, Azerbaijan has not only achieved to attract big investments in oil and gas industries and become an important gas and oil producer and exporter, but also managed to direct the oil and gas revenues to the development of non-oil sectors, particularly infrastructure. Hence, Azerbaijan’s dependence on oil has significantly decreased in the last 5-10 years and oil make up only 30% of GDP. President emphasized that he wanted to see the same results in export operations: “So far, oil and gas account for 90% of our export. That’s why we will have to diversify our export potential and as such continue our economic reforms, create better conditions for private sector, attract more investors and start a large scale privatization program. All these factors were included in out state policy and I’m sure we will be successful”. 
War on cyberterrorism 
While in Germany, President Ilham Aliyev met with Stefan Gotz,  the owner and CEO of “Goetzparners”’ who is one of the ten biggest companies in Germany has 12 branches in 9 countries and Yevgeniy Kasperski, founder and CEO of “Kaspersky Lab”. He talked about the favorable investment conditions for foreign countries and said that every opportunity has been made available for their successful operation. They exchanged ideas about prospects of partnership on cyberterrorism and other areas. In addition, President Ilham Aliyev met with Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy & Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, foreign minister of Germany, Frank Valter Scteinmayer, US Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Marcel Lettre and  chairman of Eastern Committee of German Economy Wolfgang Buchele . 
We suffer from aggression and occupation 
Azerbaijani president participated at a panel-discussion on “Climate and energy security. Does global warming continue?” as part of Munich Security Conference. First lady of Azerbaijan, Mehriban Aliyeva and her daughter also took part in the discussion. While answering questions addressed to him, Ilham Aliyev stated that Azerbaijan has managed to reduce gas emission to the atmosphere in the last 25 years of its independence. According to him, in 1990 there were more than 70 million tones gas emissions, whereas now it is around 50 million tones and it has happened despite sharp growth in economy during that time. Head of the state said the main threat facing Azerbaijan was that the sources of rivers supplying the country with fresh waters were coming from other countries and particularly the Aras river was seriously polluted. In his opinion, it was a danger to us all: “Despite all of our calls to stop polluting the river, Armenians still continues to do so. We are suffering from aggression and occupation for over 20 years. 20% of our territories are under occupation. In addition to our population, our environment suffers too. As those territories are not under any international supervision, there are a lot of illegal activities, particularly deforestation is going on there. Those lands are famous for their ancient trees and forests. Now, there trees are being cut for commercial purposes. We are planting millions of trees every year, continuing our gasification policy and primarily using water and gas to generate electricity. Although we don’t have any obligation under Kyoto Protocol, we are contributing to the process. We are devoted to this issue and our activities after declaring independence has proved that we are reliable partners in this process”. 
Reducing dependence on oil and gas 
President Ilham Aliyev drew attention to reforms that served the purpose of privatizing Azerbaijan, diversification of economy, improving business conditions and reducing dependency on oil and gas revenues. He noted that, the sharp decline in oil prices was a good opportunity for Azerbaijan to invest in the non-oil sector of economy, agriculture, information communication technologies. He confidently stated that Azerbaijan’s dependence on oil will be completely eliminated after successfully implementing the projects in coming years: “Falling oil prices will further motivate us to carry out reforms and future development of Azerbaijan will not depend on oil prices or the volume of production. At the same time, we are implementing the “South” gas corridor project that will create tens of thousand of jobs and will allow us to branch out in Europe. By the way, Europe will receive additional natural gas and carbon emission to the atmosphere will be reduced”
We have to spend less than we earn 
While talking about the politics in our country, president Ilham Aliyev stressed the importance of spending less than what we earn. In his opinion,  main investment projects, including investment in energy often comes from our and our allies’ financial sources. That’s why, he stressed, that Azerbaijan is not expecting a significant financial support: “Taking into account the significant financial resources generated in the country, even the sharp decline in oil prices did not negatively affect our economic development. Our GDP rose by 1% and the non oil sector grew by 8%. It was mainly the result of diversification in the economy and investment in the non oil sector. Sustainable development is our mission. As for climate change, despite not having any obligations under the Kyoto Protocol, we have contributed to effort to mitigate climate change by investing in sustainable energy sources, construction more than hydropower stations. If we hadn't’t invested in oil and gas along with our partners, our power plants would still be running on liquid fuel like it was during Soviet times. Nowadays, all of our power plants run on either water or natural gas. These are all investment in energy sector and they contribute to reducing carbon emission. These issues are all inter-connected and we will continue to play a vital role in mitigating the risks”.
Occupation should end in order to achieve peace in the region
President Ilham Aliyev gave a harsh response to the question of a staff member of Armenian Foreign Ministry and said Azerbaijan blames Armenia for occupation and the most important international institution- UN Security Council recognizes this: “UN Security Council have adopted four resolutions calling for unconditional and immediate withdrawal of Armenian troops from occupied territories. We blame not the people of Armenia but Armenian government for letting Armenian vandals to murder innocent people and carry out Khojaly massacre and this massacre is recognized by more than ten countries. We blame Armenia for the sufferings of a million refugees and IDPs who were forced to leave their lands. 40 thousand of them are from Nagorno Karabagh, and 750 thousand of them from other occupied territories, the other 200 thousand of them have been deported from Armenia and subjected to ethnic cleansing. This is all result of the Armenian occupation and this occupation must end. Territories of Azerbaijan must be free from occupation in order to achieve peace in the region”.  
We want to change the status-quo 
President also clarified the issue of co-operating with the enemy state on water and drew attention to the resolution adopted by PACE in Strasbourg less than a month ago. According to him, the resolution blames Armenia for creating problems in the management of water resources: “In order to establish partnership between Armenia and Azerbaijan, our occupied territories should be freed. Because not only Nagorno Karabagh, but other 7 neighboring districts have been destroyed. The occupation has been going on for over 20 years. Armenia doses’t want status quo to change. But we want to change it. So, the first step is to free our territories and then we can start co-operating”. 
He added in the end that, Munich conference started in 1963 as the meeting of Defense Council of NATO. Now, it has become an international discussion forum bringing together participants from more than 40 countries. This year conference has its 52 anniversary. In the final speech of the conference, Wolfgang Ischinger said he was hopeful that the ideas discussed in the conference would contribute to normalization of situation in the world.  




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