By Ayya Lmahamad
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has invited the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) member states to benefit from the Zangazur corridor.
He made the remarks in his speech at the 15th ECO summit held in Turkmenistan’s Ashgabat on November 28.
“At the last ECO summit, I informed my colleagues about the Zangazur corridor. Today I can say that the Zangazur corridor becomes a reality. This new transport infrastructure will be an important part of the East-West and North-South corridors. I am confident that the ECO member states will benefit from this corridor,” he said.
Victory and reconstruction
Noting that Azerbaijan put an end to nearly 30 years of occupation of its territories by Armenia, the president recalled that the 44-days Patriotic War resulted in Armenia’s defeat and being forced to sign an act of capitulation on November 10, 2020.
Aliyev stressed that Azerbaijan restored its territorial integrity and itself ensured the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions.
He also underlined that all cities and villages, including cultural and religious heritage sites of Azerbaijan, have been totally wiped out by Armenia during the occupation.
Speaking about the start of large-scale reconstruction work, the president emphasized that Azerbaijan is building new cities and towns from the scratch relying solely on its own financial resources.
“To that end, $1.3 billion has been released from the state budget this year. At least, the same amount will be allocated for this purpose in 2022,” he said.
Recalling the annunciation of liberated Karabakh and Eastern Zangazur as green energy zone, Aliyev noted that the liberated territories have the proven potential of 7,200 MW of solar energy and 2,000 MW of wind energy.
Cooperation within ECO
Aliyev stated that Azerbaijan is an active member of ECO, adding that the relations with the member states are based on friendship and mutual respect.
“We also enjoy fruitful cooperation with the ECO member states within international platforms, including the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Non-Aligned Movement,” he said.
Recalling that the Charter of the ECO Research Centers was signed during the 14th ECO Summit this March, the president expressed his gratitude to the member states for supporting late Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev's initiative.
“Azerbaijan will do its utmost for the efficient functioning of the Center based in our country. I invite remaining member states to join this important initiative,” he said.
The president noted that over the past 18 years, Azerbaijan’s economy has developed rapidly, and the gross domestic product increased more than three times.
He emphasized that Azerbaijan has achieved a favorable investment climate as a result of large-scale reforms.
“Azerbaijan is placed 28th out of 190 countries in the World Bank’s Doing Business survey,” he said.
Aliyev noted that around $280 billion has been invested in the Azerbaijani economy, half of which is foreign investment.
“Our strategic foreign exchange reserves exceed our state external debt by over six times,” he added.
Noting that the country’s external debt accounts for only about 17.3 percent of its gross domestic product, the president stated that by the end of 2030, it is planned to decrease it to 10 percent.
He also noted that over the past 18 years, the poverty rate in Azerbaijan has decreased from 49 percent to 6 percent, adding that the unemployment rate in the country is around 6 percent.
Emphasizing that Azerbaijan’s achievements are highly appreciated by the international institutions, Aliyev noted that the Davos World Economic Forum report ranks Azerbaijan in the 10th place for the long-term government strategy and 5th in the world in terms of the leadership’s commitment to reform.
“Again, according to the Davos report- Azerbaijan ranks the 2nd for electricity supply to the population, 11th for efficiency of railroad services, 12th for efficiency of air transportation services, 25th for efficiency of seaport services, and 27th for quality of road infrastructure,” he said.
Fight against COVID-19
Noting that Azerbaijan has launched an immunization campaign since mid-January this year, Aliyev stated that over 60 percent of the adult population in the country has received two doses of the vaccine.
He stressed that almost $3 billion of the socio-economic stimulus package has been released to support COVID-affected people and businesses in the country. The president added that for the same purpose, $1.6 billion of financial assistance package will be allocated from the state budget in 2022.
Aliyev also underlined that Azerbaijan is making significant steps to mobilize global efforts against the pandemic, adding that the country’s firm opposition against “vaccine nationalism” has been persistently stressed.
“This year, upon Azerbaijan’s initiative in its capacity as the Chair of the Non-Aligned Movement, resolutions on ensuring equitable access for all countries to vaccines were adopted at the UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly respectively,” he said.
The president added that Azerbaijan has provided financial and humanitarian assistance to about 80 countries directly and through World Health Organization to support their fight against the COVID-19.
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