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Former Croatian president: Development has become Zeitgeist of Azerbaijan

21 December 2018 [17:02] - TODAY.AZ

By Azernews

By Kamila Aliyeva

Since the independency in 1991, development has become the Zeitgeist of Azerbaijan, Former President of the Republic of Croatia Stjepan Mesic told Azernews.

“Enhancing the country’s prosperity, security, the government has positioned it regionally and globally as modern economy, not just the oil-dominated one. I visited fascinating Azerbaijan during my presidency, and after that, many times, and have witnessed huge changes have occurred bringing to Azerbaijan economic prosperity that has been posted as the President’s and the government’s priority,” he said.

Speaking of Azerbaijan’s economic progress, Mesic underlined that decline in world oil prices in 2016 and 2017 revealed how President Ilham Aliyev’s orientation to the diversification strategy of Azerbaijan’s development has been important for the country’s stability,

Mesic recalled that Azerbaijan had the world‘s highest rate of GDP growth (reaching 34.5 percent in 2006) that put the country on progressive road.

“The  energy revenues and developing export routes for its growing gas production stay central, allowing Azerbaijan to diversify its GDP through investments abroad and at home in mega projects and other non-energy sectors like agriculture, logistics, information technology, and tourism. Declining of world oil prices in 2016 and 2017 revealed how the President’s orientation to the diversification strategy of Azerbaijan’s development has been important for the country stability. The economic results, based on market economy reforms, are here and as a young independent country Azerbaijan works to resolve social and political development challenges,” he noted.

The government has given the combat against corruption the high prominence, Mesic said, adding that all these achievements won approval of OSCE and the European Union because developments in this direction generate hope for further improvement that could not have meteoric rise, but gradual.


Azerbaijan improves position in WEF ranking

Touching upon Azerbaijan’s achievement and especially its improved position in World Economic Forum (WEF) ranking, the former Croatian president said that it should be seen as a result of Azerbaijani government policies focused on continuous opening up of the country to foreign investments thorough building favorable macroeconomic environment.

“This transformation through improving the country’s infrastructure, education and business environment have been so profound and in deep national interest of Azerbaijan. This period of transformation is not over and the country needs more support and understanding of international institutions in its process of integration into global economy that is in deep change and radically diverged from the idea of economic globalization a decade ago,” Mesic explained.


 Azerbaijan’s role in future energy map of Europe

Turning to Azerbaijan’s energy policy, the former Croatian president pointed out that the empirical arguments on the ground can by itself support the claim Azerbaijan is a growing energy partner for the EU and  SGC begins to manifest its  pivotal role in the future energy map of Europe.

“This partnership’s significance extends far beyond SGC and its starting point, Shah Deniz-2 gas field, in Azerbaijan, if the EU continues to govern its energy strategy supplies on diversifying supply routes. The Sothern Gas Corridor has potential to decrease the dependence of EU countries on a single supplier of natural gas and other energy resources. In the future, this route should become a further significant supply source for the EU when it opens in 2020-2021,” he said.

Mesic went on to add that the European Union has taken many actions, on the basis of the Ashgabat declaration (2015), to closely develop cooperation with Azerbaijan as one of gas suppliers and transit countries.

“Azerbaijan is geopolitically important country and its section of the Southern Gas Corridor raises its strategic importance further,” he added.

Mesic expressed hope that the EU-Azerbaijan Partnership Priorities, diplomacy, will in a longer view considerably and comprehensively improve their relations.


 Azerbaijan stands as desirable model of interreligious dialogue

Speaking of the country’s activities with regards to interreligious and intercultural dialogue, Mesic emphasized that keeping the peace in the focus and all kinds of cooperation have occupied a strategic position in Azerbaijan’s diplomacy.

“I have attended several international, economic and intercultural forums held in Baku and discussions were more and more on multilateralism, an opening up of Azerbaijan to new forms of interconnectedness, as well as economic liberalization and intercultural communication,” he said.

“But, at any rate, this relatively new forms of multi-layered Azerbaijan’s society are strongly supported and even generated by traditional interreligious and intercultural dialogue that is significant force of  the country’s stability,” Mesic said.

The former Croatian president noted that upgrading this state of high level of religious tolerance and harmony, the Azerbaijani government has successfully provided the answers, which cannot be found in the history on modern challenges like different kinds of terrorism. 

“The concept of remarkable religious tolerance that featured Azerbaijani everyday life sends essentially needed message to the world that in the Muslim majority country with long history of secularism, Christianity, Judaism, Russian Orthodox Christianity, and Albanian-Udi Christianity could be integrated within the society,” he stressed.

This remains foundational for every society that focuses on successful handling of issues emerging from cultural and religious differences, Mesic stated.

“In this time of rising religious non-tolerance and fracturing of multilateral order, Azerbaijan stands as a desirable model of interreligious dialogue that is worth to be followed. The Azerbaijani model of multiculturalism and a positive policy of state-religion relations contribute to improvement of the cooperation between EU and Azerbaijan,” he added.


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