Recently, Azerbaijan celebrated the anniversary of its independence; on October 18th 1991 Azerbaijan's Supreme Council adopted the Constitutional Act on the State Independence of the Republic of Azerbaijan from the USSR. Vestnik Kavkaza spoke with a political analyst and deputy director of Trend Agency, Arzu Nagiyev, about the life of Azerbaijan in these 25 years.
- In your estimation, what kind of country and what state did Azerbaijan become over the 25 years of independence?
- I think that in these 25 years, which passed, the country achieved a lot. It is suffice to compare the year of 1991 with the present days: there were wars and disasters, and other serious challenges. Azerbaijan came out of all situations with credit, due to a great role played by Heydar Aliyev: if he hadn’t come to power in the country, Azerbaijan would have been divided on various nation states under the influence of the foreign intelligence services. During Heydar Aliev’s presidency Azerbaijan was established as a state and regional player, including in the oil sector, and as a part of the international community. After signing the Contract of the Century in 1994, the whole world drew attention to Azerbaijan, and today it is well-known due to its significant success in the humanitarian, social, and the economic spheres. A resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh problem is a priority of the Azerbaijani political line; the diplomatic and other methods are applied to resolve it. I think the international community will support us practically over time, and we can achieve the sovereignty of our state in its entirety, by liberating the occupied lands. The Independence Day of Azerbaijan is a great holiday for the country, because a possession of our own territory is a real achievement, and many ethnic groups, who do not have their statehood, would like to become such a country as Azerbaijan.
- How has Azerbaijan's foreign policy influenced its relations with Russia? And what are the results of the Russian-Azerbaijani relations today?
- Whatever foreign policy is carried out in Baku, we will always know that we are linked to Moscow by the major historical events, and Russia always remains our great northern neighbor. We have always been and will be partners in the military sphere, and in many others as well. In the ethnic terms, Azerbaijanis have no problems in Russia, as Russians have no problems in Azerbaijan. Today, there is a very noticeable positive trend in the relations between our leaders : they are constantly exchanging information. A good example is a visit of President Vladimir Putin to Baku, where he met with our president Ilham Aliyev and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Another example is Vladimir Putin’s congratulations for Ilham Aliyev on the Independence Day. I think there are no problems both between our leaders and our countries, because we have a common border and common interests in the region.
- How has the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict affected the development of Azerbaijan?
- At the beginning of the conflict we did not have a strong army, as we have now, the other countries, even the United Nations Security Council’s members did not fully understand us, and highlighted not the principle of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan, but the principle of a self-determination of nations. Over the passed years we have succeed in conveying a message, that a focus on a self-determination of nations leads to separatism, and the shifts can be observed in the positions of many foreign countries on the Nagorno-Karabakh problem. Both Russia and all other countries support unequivocally the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan.
- In your estimation, who has made the greatest contribution to the current state of Azerbaijan?
- The greatest contribution, of course, was made by Heydar Aliyev. When he managed to organize a signing of the Contract of the Century, none believed that the Azerbaijani oil could get into the Black Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, and from there to the whole world. It was unbelievable - but he believed and did it. After that Azerbaijan became one of the leading countries in the region.
- In your estimation, what are the prospects for the development and life of Azerbaijan in the future?
- We should develop good relations with our neighbors, with the East and the West. We are one of the countries that, in spite of being a part of the Islamic world, has the independent foreign economic, foreign policy and domestic policy course. I think that Azerbaijan will continue to adhere to the principle of preserving its sovereignty and building good relations with neighbors. Of course, we will continue to strive for the solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh problem. At the same time there are no other global problems in the Republic today: the non-oil sector is developing rapidly, and our economy has quite positive prospects, especially in a cooperation with our neighbors, including Russia.
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