Azerbaijan, an important participant of any process that takes place in the continent, has again approved its significant role in such vital issues as Europe’s energy security and international security by being invited to the Munich Security Conference.
The 52nd Munich Security Conference which was held on February 12-14 showed that Azerbaijan is firmly embedded in the international security system and its role in strengthening this system is undeniable and nothing can change this reality.
The conference attended by more than 400 participants, including heads of states and governments, foreign and defense ministers, politicians, scientists and heads of international organizations, discussed the most topical issues of the current international agenda – the crises, as well as current and future challenges of international security.
The key topics of this conference were the migratory crisis in Europe, the war in Syria and the future of the European security. In addition, the fight against terrorism, energy security and climate change also were high on the agenda. Bilateral and multilateral discussions on various topics were organized on the sidelines of the conference.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev attended the Energy Security Roundtable on the Geopolitics of Low Oil Prices as part of the Munich Conference on February 12. During the meeting the participants discussed the issues of impact of oil prices on oil-producing countries. The main idea which was voiced during the roundtable was that despite significant decrease of oil prices, the main thing for each country is to be able to balance the situation in a timely manner.
Azerbaijan, according to President Aliyev, faced with a real challenge, but “due to the policy of diversification and investments in infrastructure, we, I think, managed to find a way out from this situation with minimum losses.”
“The task in the coming years will be to diversify our export potential, and here, of course, we come to the point of necessity to continue economic reforms, create even better conditions for private sector, attract more investments and start a large-scale privatization program. All of these elements have already been declared as our state policy, and I am sure that we will succeed,” he said.
The development of each country should continue not depending on whether oil prices are low or high. In this regard, in the coming years the task of Azerbaijan, more than 90 percent of export of which is oil and gas, will be to develop the non-oil sector and to diversify its export potential.
The country has achieved reduction of dependence on oil factor dramatically during last 5-10 years. Oil is only 30 percent of Azerbaijan’s GDP. Now the government is set to achieve the same picture in the country’s exports. President Aliyev also attended the Panel Discussion “Climate and Energy Security: Is the Heat Still on?” of the Munich Conference on February 13. Addressing the discussions, President Aliyev said post-oil period has already begun for Azerbaijan.
“I am absolutely sure that if we manage to successfully implement our plans in the coming years, Azerbaijan will completely eliminate dependence on oil. As I have noted, due to the recent fall in oil prices, post-oil period has already begun for Azerbaijan, and we should find our place on the global market as a country exporting not only oil and gas but also other products,” he noted.
The potential accumulated from previous years, allowed Azerbaijan to safely adjust to new realities and to carry out reforms promptly that have already brought the first successes. Drop of oil prices have not hindered Azerbaijan to fulfill its obligations before the partners. Currently, the Southern Gas Corridor project is being implemented. As President Aliyev said, “it is an energy security, a project of diversification of not only routes, but also the resources of the project, which will bring benefits to us – the producers, transit countries and consumers.”
During the discussions, President Aliyev said problems for the development of the country and the region occur not from crude oil prices but from ongoing Armenian aggression, including in terms of environmental and energy security.
Referring to the water blackmail of Armenia, President Aliyev said that the water resources flowing to the territory of Azerbaijan are located in neighboring countries, and this itself creates a certain threat for the country. For example, as a result of Armenian aggression, illegal activities – the destruction of forests – are carried out and water sources are polluted.
President Aliyev also drew attention to the recently adopted PACE resolution on Sarsang water reservoir. According to the document, Armenia holds the reservoir in the blockade, and as a result, the population of Azerbaijan cannot use this water resource.
“In January, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a resolution condemning Armenia for creating perpetrated problems in providing the neighboring regions with water. This resolution, adopted by a majority in the Parliamentary Assembly, makes a call to stop bringing pain to people. Unfortunately, they are using the reservoir, constructed in the years when Nagorno-Karabakh was a de facto part of Azerbaijan, for creating problems for the civilian population,” he stated.
Commenting on a question of a representative of the Armenian Foreign Ministry regarding the allegations of Baku to Yerevan, President Aliyev said not only Azerbaijan, but also international organizations blame Armenia in the occupation of the Azerbaijani lands, for example, the UN Security Council that adopted the relevant resolutions.
“We blame Armenia in occupation, and not only we. The highest international organization – the UN Security Council does it,” President Aliyev said. “The UN Security Council adopted four resolutions demanding the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian forces from the occupied territories. We do not blame the Armenian people, but the Armenian government for the Khojaly genocide, when Armenian vandals killed innocent people only because they were Azerbaijanis and this genocide is already recognized by more than 10 countries. We accuse Armenia on suffering of millions of refugees and internally displaced persons who became refugees in their native land. Some 40,000 of them are from Nagorno-Karabakh, while 750,000 – from other occupied regions of Azerbaijan, and 200,000 were driven out from Armenia and subjected to ethnic cleansing. All these are the result of your occupation. This is the result of the policy pursued by you against a neighboring country, and the occupation must end. The main condition for achieving peace in the region is the release of Azerbaijani lands from the occupation.”
De-occupation is the only condition for confidence building between the conflicting parties, he added.
“Armenia wants the status quo to remain unchanged. We want to change the status quo Thus, the first step is withdrawal from the occupied lands, and after it, we will begin to cooperate,” he said, responding to the questions addressed to him.
Azerbaijan, not in theory but in practice, faced with problems of terrorism, refugees, occupation and threats to its security. When Europe has not thought about the possibility of such a migration crisis today, Azerbaijan faced the problem of refugees and internally displaced persons, and resolved it alone, without any help, without calling any conference. It is a bitter experience, but the country has it, and it can be useful in today’s conflict-ridden world.
In early February, President Aliyev participated at the Supporting Syria and the Region Conference in London. It once again showed Azerbaijan’s importance for the world as a country enjoying smooth and friendly relations with all the countries involved in the Syrian crisis, and with all the countries of the Muslim world.
Being the leader of the region, and a secular Muslim country, where representatives of different faiths coexist in peace and harmony, Azerbaijan expressed its readiness to share its experience in managing the refugee problem.
Regional leadership, economic and political stability, participation in the fight against international terrorism, the role of one of the main sources of energy security of Europe, and an important point of intersection of trade and transport routes – all these make the participation of Azerbaijan on a global-scale meetings much more important and actual.