Having paid attention to the processes that are taking place now in our renewing globe, we can see that the world’s countries primarily require economic and political stability and peace. States and governments that organize these types of discussions through international platforms understand that healthy dialogue and increased cooperation are the primary mechanisms for achieving sustainable development and better, more effective organization of the emerging new political architecture.
Today, Azerbaijan continues its commitment to partnership and cooperation on all international platforms based on mutual respect and trust, successfully proving to the entire community the path to sustainable development. The multi-vector economic policies executed under President Ilham Aliyev’s leadership during the previous 20 years, as well as the excellent management model used, have had a considerable impact on the development of not just the South Caucasus but also the Central Asian region.
In general, our country has created relations with Central Asian governments in multilateral forms based on mutual respect and confidence in recent years; the President of Azerbaijan attends high-level meetings of the region’s heads of state as an honored guest.
Recently Azerbaijan, under the auspices of the United Nations (UN), has brought new breath into these relations. The Summit meeting of the leaders of state and government of the UN Special Program for the Economies of Central Asian Countries – SPECA took place in Baku for the first time in history.
The United Nations Special Program for the Economies of Central Asia (SPECA) was launched in 1998 to strengthen subregional cooperation in Central Asia and deepen its integration into the world economy. SPECA countries consist of Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
President Ilham Aliyev’s speech at the Summit held on November 24, 2023, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the establishment of SPECA, as well as a series of bilateral meetings with the heads of states participating in the meeting, which determined the future directions of SPECA’s activities, highlighted the importance of our country for the institution, and revealed the state’s consistent work in the fields of regional integration and socio-economic development.
The presence of the Prime Ministers of Georgia and Hungary, as well as the Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council, as guests of honor at President Ilham Aliyev’s request, will open the way for a broader framework of economic cooperation.
These initiatives, of course, are a result of Azerbaijan’s consistent policy, which has resulted in political stability and an autonomous economy. “Without stability, no economic growth can be achieved. Today, wars, conflicts and bloody clashes are raging in various regions across the globe, whereas, our countries enjoy peace, stability and security, with successful growth and development processes underway,” President Ilham Aliyev remarked during his speech at the Summit.
Over the last two decades, the fourfold increase in Azerbaijan’s GDP, the reduction of poverty from approximately 50 percent to 5.5 percent, and the fact that our foreign exchange reserves have exceeded our direct foreign debt by tenfold have all contributed to a favorable investment environment for foreign countries and companies in our country. Thus, over the last 20 years, more than 310 billion US dollars have been invested in Azerbaijan’s economy, with approximately 200 billion US dollars landing in the non-energy sector.
President Ilham Aliyev also mentioned the centuries-old historical and cultural relations between Central Asian countries and Azerbaijan, as well as our ongoing collaboration in the fields of transportation and logistics, during his speech. The President stated that Azerbaijan has become a reliable partner in this field. He pointed out how useful our investments of billions of US dollars for the expansion of the capacity of the Eurasian East-West and North-South transport corridors are to strengthen the transport security of SPECA countries.
It is no surprise that the importance of SPECA to the UN has grown in recent years. This year, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution commemorating SPECA’s 25th anniversary, and the SPECA Trust Fund was formed under UN auspices. Azerbaijan, for its part, will contribute 3.5 million US dollars to the Trust Fund.
I’d like to emphasize that the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), a UN sub-structure, supports SPECA activities. This year, on October 19–20, 2023, the Republic of Azerbaijan, including the Milli Majlis, was represented at a high level in the Regional Conference held in Geneva, Switzerland, under the auspices of UNECE.
As a result of improving connections, the SPECA countries are heavily involved in the restoration and reconstruction of our territories liberated from occupation. During his speech, the country’s leader underlined this issue specifically, and the work of these states was lauded. President Ilham Aliyev mentioned the school and creative center being built as a gift for the people of Azerbaijan by brotherly Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan and emphasized that additional steps have been taken to enhance cooperation in this area.
The involvement of Central Asian countries in the work being done to turn Karabakh into a paradise opens up new avenues of cooperation by increasing the volume of foreign investment flowing into Azerbaijan as well as creates conditions for the Great Return to accelerate.
As a result, Karabakh, in addition to being a source of pride for the Azerbaijani people, is also becoming a global center of peace, justice, and mutual collaboration.
Mazahir Afandiyev, Member of the Milli Majlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan
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