BAKU: Azeri leader gives thumbs up to country’s economic development

Azeri leader gives thumbs up to country’s economic development

Azerbaijani TV Channel One, Baku
10 Nov 04

Azerbaijan’s economy is developing fast and the country is going in the
right direction, President Ilham Aliyev has told journalists during his
tour of southern districts. Commenting on a forthcoming NATO meeting in
Baku, Aliyev said that Azerbaijan could not bar Armenian MPs from Baku
because the country should not isolate itself from processes going on
in the world. The following is the text of the report by Azerbaijani
TV on 10 November; subheadings have been inserted editorially:

[Presenter] Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has held a number
of remarkable meetings during his visit to southern districts of
Azerbaijan. During the visit, he answered questions of interest to
media representatives.

[Video shows Ilham Aliyev surrounded by journalists, correspondent
is asking] Mr President, you have signed a new decree which says
that delegations visiting foreign countries should report on their
visits. Why do you think it was necessary to sign such a decree?

[Ilham Aliyev] I think it is necessary because every delegation should
make a report on its meetings and issues that were discussed. Of
course, the president and other relevant bodies should be aware
of that. Because there are issues that are directly related to
ministries. For this reason, such a system will enable all ministries
and state agencies to learn which issues were discussed and which
conclusions were drawn. That is the goal. I think that this will make
a very good contribution to our common work and the issues that are
discussed and the decisions that are made during foreign visits will
be clear to everyone.

Baku cannot bar Armenians from NATO meeting

[Correspondent] Mr President, there is dissatisfaction with NATO’s
invitation of Armenian MPs to Azerbaijan. The Karabakh Liberation
Organization has issued a new statement and expressed its objection. We
would like to learn your attitude to this as the president. Should
Armenian MPs be invited to Azerbaijan and participate in events
here? [Speaker] Murtuz Alasgarov has already met [Armenian Speaker
Armen] Bagdasaryan.

[Ilham Aliyev] Any organization can express its objection to any
issue. There is democracy, freedom of speech and independence in
Azerbaijan, as you know, b ut Azerbaijan has its own interests and
general policy. I would like to tell you that various officials from
Armenia visited Azerbaijan in the past, including Armenian members
of parliament. The Armenian prime minister also visited here several
years ago. And for some reason, this did not cause objections of the
organization you mentioned.

As you know, Azerbaijan did not let Armenian servicemen into
Azerbaijan. Although this did not go down well with international
organizations, we insisted on our position and I personally decided
that Armenian servicemen should not come to Azerbaijan. This is an
issue of principle. A representative of an occupying army cannot
visit Azerbaijan.

As for other international events, we cannot isolate ourselves from
the processes taking place in the world. In general, we cannot isolate
Azerbaijan from this issue. We want international events to be held
in Azerbaijan – conferences, seminars, including those held under the
aegis of international organizations. There is nothing new here. If
we reject this, this will only play into Armenia’s hands. For this
reason, I think that it is wrong to make an unnecessary fuss about this
issue. The government knows everything and the president regulates all
issues. We will never make concessions on issues of principle. But
if we give up this seminar and meeting because of Armenians, this
will not benefit us.

Azeri economy going in right direction

[Second correspondent] Mr President, you often visit regions and
how do you assess the pace of the socioeconomic development of the
regions in general?

[Ilham Aliyev] I assess it highly. The economy in Azerbaijan is
developing and new jobs are being created. I mentioned it during my
meetings today. Over 100,000 new jobs were created in one year. In
which country has it happened? This is the result of the policy that
has been conducted in Azerbaijan.

Very important programmes are being adopted in Azerbaijan –
socioeconomic and regional programmes. Businessmen have been granted
independence. Businessmen are being supported and they feel this
support. If they did not feel it, no great investments would have
been made in the Azerbaijani economy over the last year. Both local
businessmen and foreign companies have a clear attitude to this. There
is great trust in the present and future of Azerbaijan. We have gained
this trust and should keep it. Azerbaijan will continue to develop
at a higher pace.

The growth in GDP will be higher next year. The minimum salary and
pensions will increase. All other social payments will increase. At the
same time, as you know, the social tax will be lowered by 5 per cent
next year. And this represents great support for the private sector
development. The measures being taken in the economic sector show
that the country is developing in the right direction and the results
of that are evident. All we need to do is continue this policy. All
the relevant bodies – the government, private sector, businessmen,
local authorities – must advocate a single position in this issue.