Dear President Recep Tayyip Erdogan,
Dear Secretary General,
Ladies and Gentlemen!
First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to my dear brother, President of the Republic of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the invitation to the Ninth D-8 Summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization and for the hospitality extended to us.
Although Azerbaijan is not a member of D-8, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has invited Azerbaijan to this event. I express my deep gratitude to my brother for that.
A G-20 Summit was held in the Turkish city of Antalya in November 2015. Turkey could invite only one non-member country of the group as a special guest, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan invited Azerbaijan. This is yet another clear example of the Azerbaijani-Turkish brotherhood and friendship.
Dear participants of the meeting, I want to draw your attention to the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Armenia has occupied the historical lands of Azerbaijan for over 25 years – Nagorno-Karabakh and seven districts adjacent to it. A policy of ethnic cleansing has been carried out on these territories, more than a million of our compatriots have found themselves in the position of refugees and internally displaced persons. In 1992, Armenia committed the Khojaly genocide. As a result of this war crime, 613 peaceful Azerbaijanis were killed, 106 of them are were women and 63 children. Thousands of people went missing and were injured. The UN Security Council has adopted four resolutions in connection with the conflict. These resolutions demand an immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian armed forces from Azerbaijani lands. Similar decisions and resolutions have also been adopted by the Non-Aligned Movement, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the OSCE and other organizations. However, the occupying state of Armenia flouts these decisions and continues war crimes against the civilian Azerbaijani population.
In April of last year, as a result of an armed attack on the part of Armenia, civilians and servicemen died on the contact line. Hundreds of houses were destroyed. Azerbaijan resolutely stopped this Armenian provocation as our army liberated some of our lands from Armenian occupiers. After that, the completely destroyed village of Jojug Marjanli was completely rebuilt. A school, a medical center and a mosque were built in this village of 150 houses. This mosque is reminiscent of the Shusha mosque destroyed by the Armenians.
Nagorno-Karabakh is historical land of Azerbaijan. The Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict should be resolved on the basis of the resolutions of the UN Security Council within the framework of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani state and people will never allow the creation of a second contrived Armenian state on our ancestral lands. The territorial integrity of our country is not and never will be the subject of negotiations.
Dear participants of the meeting, Azerbaijan attaches special importance to Islamic solidarity and makes its contribution to it. Year 2017 has been declared in Azerbaijan as a Year of Islamic Solidarity. At the same time, the Fourth Games of Islamic Solidarity were held in Azerbaijan this year. They were joined by some 3,000 athletes from 54 Muslim countries. We are actively fighting Islamophobia, which is one of the most serious threats in the world. Trying to disguise itself as a friend of Muslim countries, Armenia has destroyed mosques and religious monuments in Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent districts. A country destroying mosques can never be a friend of Muslim countries.
Two days ago, Azerbaijan marked the 26th anniversary of the restoration of its independence. In this short period of time, our country has covered a successful road of development. Since 2004, our economy has more than tripled. About two million jobs have been created. Poverty has dropped to 5 per cent. Literacy is at about 100 per cent. Our foreign exchange reserves are equal to the country's gross domestic product. The external public debt accounts for less than 20 per cent of the gross domestic product. These successes of Azerbaijan are also recognized by international organizations. A report of the Davos Economic Forum ranks Azerbaijan in 35th place globally in terms of economic competitiveness this year.
Azerbaijan is the initiator and an active participant of international projects. Today, together with our partners, we are implementing the Southern Gas Corridor project. This is one of the largest infrastructure projects in the world. The agreement on the TANAP gas pipeline, which is the main component of the Southern Gas Corridor, was signed between Azerbaijan and Turkey in Istanbul in 2012. This pipeline will be commissioned next year.
The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, the official opening of which will take place soon, will be the shortest connection between Europe and Asia. Azerbaijan invests a lot in the creation of East-West and North-South transport corridors. These transport corridors will open new opportunities for the economic development of Eurasia.
Thank you for your attention.