Energy leading to peace
    Proceeding from Azerbaijani President’s speech in ADA

    ANALYTICS  25 April 2024 - 16:22

    Murad Abiyev

    The international forum entitled “COP29 and Green Vision for Azerbaijan” was held at ADA University on April 23. According to the tradition, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev took part in the forum.

    For more than three hours, representatives of the international expert community asked the president questions on a whole range of issues, beginning from the upcoming COP29 conference scheduled for November 2024 and ending with the problems of international politics and economics.

    If we combine all the answers of President Aliyev related to the upcoming COP29 conference and the role of Azerbaijan in the global green agenda, then Azerbaijan can be characterised as a country that has rightfully become one of the leading countries involved in the global environmental agenda due to the strengthening of its sovereignty and increasing international authority.

    “We treat our chairmanship [in COP29] not only as an opportunity to present our country, though that’s important, but as an opportunity to contribute really to the practical resolution of the most urgent issues on global arena,” President Aliyev said.

    The president noted that Azerbaijan is actively pursuing a policy to protect the environment, citing examples of cleansing the territories of the former “Black City” and Bibiheybat, as well as touching on the issue of water resources in Karabakh and East Zangezur.

    Moreover, President Aliyev also pointed to the problems that require multilateral cooperation, for example, the shallowing of the Caspian Sea.

    President Aliyev also touched upon the “green transition”, noting that the work is underway to find the appropriate balance between fossil fuels and renewable energy sources, and talking about joint investments in green energy projects, including a 240 megawatt solar power plant and a groundbreaking ceremony for four more solar and wind power plants with a total capacity of 1,300 megawatts scheduled for 2024.

    The Azerbaijani President also noted the potential of hydropower, pointing out that the hydroelectric power capacity over the past three years has reached almost 170 MW in Karabakh and East Zangezur.

    As for the normalisation of relations with Armenia, President Aliyev touched upon the entire range of nuances. First of all, the Azerbaijani President spoke about revanchist sentiments in Armenia, fueled by external forces, in particular, France, Greece and India, which supply weapons to Armenia. While pointing out that Baku has no goal of interfering in Armenia’s internal affairs, President Aliyev was uncompromising regarding those cases when the actions of Yerevan and its patrons threaten Azerbaijan’s national security.

    “When they increase their military power against us, when they concentrate their troops along our border from time to time, we cannot remain silent. The matter rests in our safety, and we have a right to worry. Therefore, my message to them and to those who want to use them as an outpost against Azerbaijan: don’t do it! No matter how many weapons are supplied to Armenia, it will fail. The second Karabakh war demonstrated this,” the Azerbaijani President said.

    Moreover, President Aliyev also drew attention to the global context of revanchist sentiments in Armenia.

    “Moreover, Armenia may become another candidate for global confrontation. Unfortunately, there are such incidents near our borders. They can be used as part of a global confrontation between the West and Russia, and it is up to them to decide whether this is the best scenario for them. However, this could be a disaster. Those who today promise to render final and constant support to Armenia will run away after the first shots at the border,” the Azerbaijani President once again sent a warning signal to the destructive forces.

     Touching on the issue of progress in the peace process, President Aliyev emphasised the initiative of Azerbaijan, which put forward five fair principles for a peaceful settlement, which, again, due to Yerevan’s hopes for the possibility of revenge in the future, were torpedoed by the Armenian side. The Azerbaijani President especially noted the desire of the Armenian side to include a paragraph related to the so-called “Nagorno-Karabakh” in the text of the peace treaty.

    However, after the full restoration of Azerbaijan's sovereignty over Karabakh in September 2023, Yerevan was forced to remove this paragraph, at the same time taking a two-month pause in the process. President Aliyev stressed that negotiations continued recently and thanked German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany Annalena Baerbock for organising the meeting between the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan. President Aliyev also thanked the Kazakh government for the offer to organise a ministerial meeting in this country.

    President Aliyev covered all the nuances of delimitation, emphasising that “delimitation and a peace agreement are two separate issues, it would be wrong to combine them into one and make one dependent on the other”.

    Touching upon the issue of opening routes and the Zangezur corridor, President Aliyev once again emphasised the importance of compliance with the Tripartite Declaration, according to which Armenia is obliged to provide Azerbaijan with an onshore corridor for passing from mainland Azerbaijan to the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic.

    However, President Aliyev was generally quite optimistic about the prospect of signing a peace agreement with Armenia soon.

    “Reaching an agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia before COP29, at least on basic principles, seems quite realistic,” he said.

    He also noted the recent agreement of a bilateral state commission on the return of four villages of the Gazakh district to Azerbaijan as an important indicator of the constructiveness achieved by the sides.

    While answering several questions related to the economy, President Aliyev emphasised that Azerbaijan has managed to diversify its economy to a certain extent and that oil and gas now account for less than half of the country’s GDP. At the same time, the president named diversification of exports as one of the tasks facing the country, reminding that approximately 95 per cent of Azerbaijan’s exports consist of oil and gas. The president mentioned the lack of an opportunity to reach the European market due to certain restrictions and quotas as one of the obstacles to such diversification.

    “We are working on this issue,” President Aliyev summed up.

    The Azerbaijani President also emphasised the special role of the projects related to the development of transport infrastructure and digital transformation in strengthening the country’s economy, reminding that Azerbaijan was chosen as one of the regional centres of the fourth Industrial Revolution at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

    Finally, important questions were devoted to Azerbaijan’s relations with other countries. President Aliyev said that perhaps Baku is now experiencing one of the most active periods in bilateral relations with Berlin, especially emphasising the high level of mutual economic interest and reminded a recent meeting with a big group of representatives of the German business community.

    The Azerbaijani President said that the relations with Italy are excellent, noting that this country is one of Azerbaijan’s closest partners and friends. President Aliyev emphasised that today Italy is one of the leading countries involved in the ongoing work in Karabakh and East Zangezur and mentioned the participation of Italian companies in the restoration of the cultural heritage of the former occupied territories, for example, the Karabakh Khan’s Palace in Aghdam and mosques in various liberated cities.

    As for the relations with the EU as a whole, the Azerbaijani President spoke in favour of developing a mutually acceptable mechanism of cooperation, even noting that the sides were close to such an agreement until Baku revealed the West's desire to draw dividing lines in the South Caucasus.

    The Azerbaijani President explained that he was referring primarily to the recent meeting in Brussels, at which perhaps the Western representatives agreed to provide Armenia with weapons.

    “I think that open discussions with all partners, including the EU, are necessary. If they want to be more active in the South Caucasus, they cannot ignore Azerbaijan, the biggest country in terms of territory, population and economic potential. If they want to ignore Azerbaijan, they will not be in the South Caucasus. It is obvious. We are ready to cooperate, but on the basis of mutual respect and mutual interest,” President Aliyev said by describing the essence of the approach that the EU should take in relations with Azerbaijan.

    The Azerbaijani President also spoke about the development of relations with the People's Republic of China, especially emphasising the countries' mutual support for each other's territorial integrity.

    President Aliyev also highlighted the role of the Middle Corridor as a central factor determining the development of relations between Azerbaijan and China.

    Some experts wanted to know about the status of Azerbaijan’s relations with Russia, especially amid the recent early withdrawal of the Russian peacekeeping contingent from Azerbaijan, as well as President Aliyev’s visit to Moscow and his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    “We managed to develop such a format of cooperation that is mutually beneficial. There are certain phobias, stereotypes, propaganda. However, I think that as for Azerbaijan, it is clear that all this is too exaggerated. It is possible to defend sovereignty, independence, independent policy not only formally, but also in reality while maintaining good ties with Russia. It's absolutely possible. The Russia-Azerbaijan relations can be cited as an example,” President Aliyev said while answering these questions.

    President Aliyev's responses described Azerbaijan as a country optimally using its strategic resources for the common good. The idea of Azerbaijan’s economic, political and cultural mission was expressed by President Aliyev perfectly.

    “We feel equally comfortable both in Europe and in the eastern part of the world. We do not experience any inconvenience as the Azerbaijani society over the centuries has greatly absorbed the values of both Islamic and European civilisations. Therefore, of course, this location dictates the need for us to pursue an active transport policy,” the Azerbaijani President said.

    Choosing Azerbaijan as the host country for COP29 reflects the change in geopolitical realities in the South Caucasus, which became possible after Azerbaijan restored sovereignty and territorial integrity, its strengthening in the international arena, and the international community’s growing confidence in Azerbaijan as a country that, by its own will, and intelligence contributes to peace and stability in the region. This means that it is worthy to be a platform for a world forum of global significance.

    In general, on the world agenda, Azerbaijan is no longer associated with an unresolved territorial conflict, but is acquiring the image of an international stage for discussing pressing issues. This is important. We managed to break the stereotype of perception of our region.

    “Energy leads to peace. We know from history that oil has caused wars and bloodshed. Now we are changing this paradigm. So far we have succeeded,” the Azerbaijani President said.


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