Azerbaijani president fires back at French accusations
    Courts German CEOs for economic expansion

    CHRONICLE  28 February 2024 - 19:48

    At a meeting with a group of German company CEOs in Baku, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev praised relations with leading engines of the German economy, courting them for economic expansion. The president also delivered a fiery response to recent allegations leveled by the French president, and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell, denouncing unsubstantiated claims of potential aggression against Armenia. Addressing a high-profile economic delegation comprising top German CEOs, the president vehemently defended Azerbaijan's stance while simultaneously advocating for bolstered economic collaboration with Germany. The meeting, held against a backdrop of simmering diplomatic tensions between Paris and Baku, showcased the president's determination to strengthen ties with key international partners amidst geopolitical challenges.

    Caliber.Az reprints the president's speech, citing Azartac.

    Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has received a delegation led by Executive Director of the German Eastern Business Association Michael Harms.

    The delegation, comprising heads of leading companies from the Federal Republic of Germany, includes Executive Director of the German-Azerbaijani Chamber of Commerce Tobias Baumann, Executive Director of Falk Consulting Thomas Falk, Senior Vice-President of Uniper Global Commodities SE Uwe Fip, Director of Board Projects at Rhenus Group international logistics company Heinrich Kerstgens, Chairman of the Board at VNG AG Ulf Heitmuller, Director of Regional Sales at Rohde & Schwarz Viktoria Gerasimova, Managing Director of HHLA International GmbH Philip Sweens.

    Fondly recalling his meetings with German businessmen last year in Berlin and recently in Munich, the head of state stressed the importance of the visit of the large delegation to Azerbaijan for discussing the agenda of economic cooperation.

    On behalf of the delegation, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Azerbaijan Ralf Horlemann expressed gratitude to Ilham Aliyev for the reception shortly after he was re-elected as the president. The ambassador said that they were impressed by President Ilham Aliyev’s meetings with the German Chancellor during his visit to Munich. He also welcomed the meeting of the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia today in Berlin, emphasizing that his country constructively supports the peace process.

    The ambassador noted that this year, with the holding of COP29, there is an opportunity to achieve a peace agreement, which is crucial in terms of stability, economic development, and tranquility. He said that one of the main goals of the large delegation of businessmen's visit to Azerbaijan is to demonstrate their interest in cooperation with the country. The ambassador pointed out that, as stated by the President of Azerbaijan in his inauguration speech, the current focus on economic, including energy, transformation issues creates significant opportunities for cooperation. He specifically emphasized that German business communities and companies are ready to make significant contributions to this agenda.

    He once again expressed gratitude to the head of state for the reception and expressed hope that the delegation's visit would yield fruitful results in terms of expanding cooperation.

    Praising the visit of the large delegation to Azerbaijan, the head of state noted that the economic sphere always plays an important role in bilateral relations, describing it as a good sign of bonds. President Ilham Aliyev noted that during his meeting with the Chancellor of Germany in Berlin last year, they discussed a broad agenda of issues concerning bilateral relations, including economic cooperation.

    The head of state also emphasized the importance of his recent meeting with Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan in Munich, initiated by Chancellor Scholz, in terms of bringing dynamism to the peace process. In addition, the president noted that Azerbaijan supported the holding of a meeting between foreign ministers in Berlin at the proposal of Germany.

    “Thus, Germany, unlike its neighbor France, which, as it is said, pours gasoline on the fire and equips Armenia with deadly weapons, demonstrates neutrality in the peace process.”

    “The norms of international law are on our side,” said President Ilham Aliyev, underscoring that any attempts to blame us for ensuring the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country are completely baseless and biased.

    “The steps taken by Azerbaijan to ensure its territorial integrity and sovereignty are not different from those taken by other countries.”

    The head of state regretfully noted that today double standards have become commonplace for several international institutions, including the European Union.

    “In this regard, the non-constructive statements by Josep Borrell have deeply disappointed us. First, his statements do not reflect any reality and are contrary to the norms of international legal. Second, Azerbaijan evaluates these statements as a veiled threat against our country. Borrell stated that if Azerbaijan were to attack Armenia, it would face dire consequences. First, where did Borrell obtain this information suggesting that Azerbaijan is planning to attack Armenia? We have no such plans. These are mere insinuations by Mr. Macron. All of this is part of the anti-Azerbaijan policy based on demonizing our country, supposedly related to Azerbaijan's alleged preparation for an attack on Armenia. After the last serious tension on the border with Armenia, which occurred in September 2023, the situation along the border remained calm until February of this year. However, in February, an Armenian sniper seriously injured an Azerbaijani soldier, prompting us to respond adequately and precisely. Our response took only a few minutes, and it was enough for Armenia to realize that attempts to kill Azerbaijanis would not go unpunished. As I mentioned, apart from the incident in September last year, the border has remained calm. Therefore, Mr. Borrell and Mr. Macron are not obtaining this information from reality but rather from their imaginations.”

    President Ilham Aliyev emphasized that Azerbaijan is committed to the peace process. “It was us who initiated peace talks after the Second Karabakh War ended. In fact, we developed five major principles of the peaceful solution and presented the draft peace agreement. Therefore, if we did not want peace, why would we have prepared all of these documents?!”

    The head of state emphasized that the Azerbaijani territories had been under Armenian occupation for 30 years.

    “Armenians occupied 20 percent of our lands, devastating those territories, forcing displacing nearly one million of our compatriots. Armenia, which kept our lands under occupation during this period, disregarded the resolutions of the UN Security Council, international legal norms, including humanitarian ones. They committed the Khojaly genocide, which we commemorated just two days ago. After restoring our sovereignty and territorial integrity by dismantling the separatist stronghold in Karabakh, we came under attack. We are being blamed by individuals such as Macron, Borrell, and others. Let's take Ukraine. Ukraine seeks to restore its territorial integrity. Germany and other countries are sending weapons to Ukraine. You all declare that Ukraine must ensure its territorial integrity. But what about our territorial integrity?! Is our issue less important than the issue of Ukraine? Unfortunately, we are witnessing attempts to establish divisive lines in the South Caucasus. Many people in Azerbaijan think that our Muslim religion is the only way out given Georgia and Armenia are taken very close to the hearts of the European institutions and Azerbaijan is now being demonized. I do not say this is my personal opinion. This is what people think. After the restoration of our territorial integrity and sovereignty, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a decision to suspend our delegation of voting rights. This decision was unfortunately initiated by a member of Germany’s parliament from the party led by Chancellor Scholz. Is it once again a case of double standards or some sort of game being played with us?! The Chancellor of Germany demonstrates impartiality, and his statements and actions demonstrate that. While a member of his party tries to get rid of Azerbaijan from the Council of Europe, get rid of one of the two non-Christian countries, and does it deliberately, openly. And as you know, we decided not to participate in the sessions, because if we don't have a right to express our will, why should we be there?!”

    President Ilham Aliyev noted that if the rights of the Azerbaijani delegation are not restored within one year, the country would seriously consider the total departure from the Council of Europe. The head of state regretfully noted that in the German media, Azerbaijan is allegedly portrayed as a country where freedoms are not ensured, people are imprisoned for their opinions, and it is depicted as a despotic country ruled by dictatorship. Saying that “this is absolutely fake and I regret that,” President Ilham Aliyev emphasized that the authors of those articles themselves are well aware of it, adding that the German Ambassador, who has been serving in Azerbaijan for several years, is also a witness of the processes taking place in the country.

    President Ilham Aliyev underlined that deliberately many negative impressions are created about Azerbaijan. “Well, does it play any role in what we are doing here? No. We do what is right for our people, for our country, whether it's the restoration of territorial integrity or it's our economic agenda,” the head of state mentioned.

    Noting that Azerbaijan is a self-sufficient country, the head of state said that the ongoing developments and works accomplished in Azerbaijan ensure normal life in the country. “If someone wants to contribute to our development, we are grateful. If not, we will not be disappointed,” the Azerbaijani President underscored.

    Noting that Azerbaijan was deprived of its statehood for 70 years during the times of the Soviet Union, President Ilham Aliyev underlined that when Azerbaijan just became independent in 1991, it faced aggression from Armenia, and four months after the restoration of its independence, Armenians committed the Khojaly genocide.

    “They occupied hundreds of villages and cities, destroyed everything. For 30 years, the international so-called community - France, the US, and Russia – co-chairs did nothing to restore justice. “When we started to de-occupy our lands, all of them started to pressure us. Each with different instruments to stop us. They did not want us to liberate our territories. And, last September, when we totally put an end to separatism, they were wrong again. And they're wrong now, some of them. I mean the United States and France. Russia, I think, understands now clearly what's happened and accepts the new realities. But I think the United States and France should also do the same. Otherwise, the situation will not be in line with their plans. They have to work with Azerbaijan - the leading country in the Caucasus with the leading economy, army, and very broad international connections.”

    Expressing gratitude to the head of state for the information provided, the Ambassador of Germany to Azerbaijan noted that it is important to see the processes here with their own eyes to get an impression of the country, adding that this is exactly one of the reasons why the delegation arrived in the country.

    Michael Harms said that it was really a great honor that they could meet the Azerbaijani President shortly after the meeting in Munich and expressed his gratitude for that. Emphasizing that the delegation arrived in Azerbaijan with the heads and representatives of more than 40 companies involved in infrastructure, industry, agriculture, banking and finance, alternative energy, and other spheres, Michael Harms said they had fruitful meetings in the country. He mentioned that during the discussions they concluded that Azerbaijan had implemented an impressive agenda of economic reforms. Harms pointed out that the other result is that there are other good opportunities for cooperation in other sectors other than traditional energy. He emphasized that the German business community very much values Azerbaijan’s firm commitment to the peace process in the Caucasus and it can also lay the foundation for a positive development in the whole region.

    The meeting also saw discussions on prospects for economic relations, including energy cooperation, joint projects, investment, and other issues.


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