Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev, whose government has over the last months come under increasing criticism for its crackdown on dissent and opposition activism has made a rare reference to democratic reforms in his country whilst addressing the opening session of the Caucasus Forum in Baku. "We are carrying out political reforms. Democratisation of our society is a priority for us," he told participants.
The President said that political and economic reforms should be carried out in parallel so that they support each other and the goals are achieved: "We achieved a great progress since independence, especially over the last 10 years. GDP growth made 300%, this is a record figure in the world. At the same time, we reduced poverty to 6% from 50%. The economic achievements of Azerbaijan are in the focus of attention of international institutions. The opinions of the leading international financial institutions on this are positive. According to Davos Forum indicators, competitiveness rating of Azerbaijan increased. We were able to carry out the main economic reforms in the country. In terms of economic development, transition period is over. Currently, 83% of our economic investment is provided by the private sector. Our private sector is strong enough."
In terms of economy, the future development of Azerbaijan is also attractive. Now we give much attention to the non-energy sector. Great achievements were made in non-energy sector, more than 11% growth was recorded in the first three months of 2013. This shows once again that our economy is more attractive. We want to diversify our economy and are making efforts for this, because if we do not diversify our economy, we can not gain greater achievements."
Ilham Aliev said that Azerbaijan is investing more in the modern technologies: "This year we witnessed a very important event. For the first time we launched Azerbaijan's satellite "Azerispace -1". It proves that Azerbaijan has an aerospace industry. Following this, Azerispace-2 and Azerispace-3 will be launched. Together with our international partners we intend to create a strong aerospace industry in Azerbaijan."
President Ilham Aliyev said energy is the major part for Azerbaijan's economy. "Throughout the centuries Azerbaijan has been known as an oil country. Now we are also known as a gas producing country. The investments made in the energy sector have allowed us to create a very positive investment climate. We are in the first place in the region in terms of the direct foreign investments. We have established a mechanism like State Oil Fund in order not to repeat heavy consequences, the problems faced by some countries. The State Oil Fund is known as one of the most transparent funds in the world. With this we have insured ourselves from hard conditions. We avoided the situation when the poor become poorer and the rich become richer," he said.
President Aliev added that investments are made in human capital, especially in education. "Education is a criterion preconditioning success. The history and experience of various countries show that not only economic growth, but also intellectual potential is important. 10 years ago we stated that we intended to turn the "black gold" into human capital. Diversification of economy, implementation of social projects, infrastructure projects and changes observed in Azerbaijan show that we have good experience in the field of transition - transition from the totalitarian society to the democratic society, from the state economy to the private economy," he said.
President Ilham Aliyev noted that Azerbaijan is today a country with its own resource and strong financial capacity.
"It means that economic crisis has not affected us. Of course, all this will play a role in the country's future development. We are doing this with the European countries, our neighbours so that we can enjoy more our energy potential," he said. The Azerbaijani leader said that Azerbaijan's energy resources will be sufficient for 100 more years.
source:commonspace.eu with APA news Agency
photo: Ilham Aliyev (archive picture).