Azeri president, first lady attend Crans Montana Forum

"Establishment of a second Armenian state will never be allowed"

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva last Friday participated at the opening of Crans Montana Forum, an international organization founded in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, which works for the promotion of international cooperation and dialogue.

The 23rd Crans Montana Forum, held in Baku June 28-July 1, was attended by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, President of Macedonia Gjorge Ivanov, Montenegrin President Filip Vujanovic, Crown Prince of the UAE Emirate of Fujairah, Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, as well as a number of countries` heads of government and the first ladies of Nigeria, Georgia, Montenegro and Macedonia.

The main aim of the forum was to encourage the upcoming 2013 World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue in Baku, as well as promote Azerbaijan as the center of such dialogue.

The event was opened by the founder of the Crans Montana Forum Jean-Paul Carteron. He said the government`s efforts made in Azerbaijan since 1993 under former President Heydar Aliyev`s leadership and continued to this day have led to Azerbaijan`s rapid development.

``We are aware of the development taking place in Azerbaijan and that your country is turning into a major player in the world,`` Carteron said.

President Aliyev addressed the forum as well. Aliyev stressed the importance of international events held in Azerbaijan in recent years, terming this as the country`s historical heritage.

Aliyev said the fact that people of different cultures have peacefully co-existed in Azerbaijan for many years is the country`s historic achievement. He also said Azerbaijan, which has been steadily developing politically and economically in the past two decades, is successfully advancing along the path of democratic development.

``Independence is the greatest wealth for us,`` the president said.

On the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, Aliyev reminded that 20 percent of Azerbaijan`s territory remains under occupation, saying that Armenia is failing to fulfill relevant decisions of international organizations, in particular, the four resolutions urging an unconditional pullout of its armed forces from the occupied territories.

Aliyev stressed that Azerbaijan will never allow ``establishment of a second Armenian state`` in its territory.

The president said Azerbaijan`s increasing power will allow to resolve the long-standing conflict.

He also said that as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, Azerbaijan is a reliable partner on the world stage and will justify the expectations of the countries supporting its cause.

Aliyev stressed that Azerbaijan possesses large oil and gas reserves and its policy aimed at ensuring international energy security is absolutely transparent.

The president added, ``Azerbaijan has set out a goal to open up new facets of energy policy and thus ensure economic prosperity.``