At a time financial and economic crisis was raging throughout the world, Azerbaijan's economy largely managed to protect itself from risks, Ziyafat Asgarov, first deputy speaker of the Azerbaijani Parliament, chairman of the parliamentary Committee on security and defense, said in an interview to APA.
“Despite the fact that we do have some difficulties, we are a country open to the world and an integral part of the global economy. However, Azerbaijan’s accurate economic, social and other policies enabled the country to protect itself,” Asgarov said.
He reminded that Azerbaijan’s president has recently signed a decree endorsing “Strategic road maps for the national economy and main economic sectors”, which will be one of the most essential documents post-oil period.
He said that despite the reduction of funds in other areas, there is no problem with the military budget.
“The goal we have set is that Azerbaijan's military strength should grow further, as it has been growing so far, because we know what we must do about Armenia’s occupation of 20 percent of Azerbaijani territory. For this reason, we should never reduce our military budget,” Asgarov added.
Asked to comment on reports of possible risks with recent visits to Azerbaijan of Armenian NGOs and media representatives, Asgarov said any visit of Armenian representatives within the framework of the Peace Platform does not pose a threat to Azerbaijan’s security.
“What is wrong with them since they overtly admit Armenia’s aggression against Azerbaijan, criticize Armenia, utter the realities with Azerbaijan, and expose Yerevan’s policy of invasion? I think it’s normal,” the deputy speaker said. “Let Armenians admit that their country is an invader, what crimes they committed against Azerbaijan, that have carried out genocide in Khojaly, and that their political leaders are the ones who did all these crimes. Let them admit these. There’s nothing wrong with that.”
He stressed that Azerbaijan is the most powerful country in the Caucasus and has the most powerful army in this region, yet it demonstrates its inclination to peacefulness.
The deputy speaker accused Armenia of simulating the negotiations process on the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
“If Yerevan continues to impede the negotiation process, Azerbaijan, both in terms of domestic and international law, has the fight to liberate its territories by military means,” he warned.
“Frankly speaking, I don’t believe in the OSCE Minsk Group anymore. They only pay visits to Azerbaijan and Armenia and hold meetings there. It shouldn’t be so,” Asgarov said. “The Minsk Group must realize its obligations. They wait Armenia and Azerbaijan to come to an agreement and say nothing. If such an agreement was possible, then there was no need for the establishment of the OSCE Minsk Group. You will never achieve anything as long as you are not sincere and don’t call Armenia an occupant country.”
He noted that leaders of the OSCE Minsk co-chairing countries often make statements recognized Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity.
“However, problems cannot be solved through statements. Thus, I only believe in my people, state and president. What does it mean? It means that the unity of the people and president is power of the state. That's it! It is the only way we can liberate our lands by,” he added.
The deputy speaker also touched upon the creation of a combined group of Russian and Armenian troops and Russia’s delivery of Iskander-M missile systems to the occupying country.
“I discussed this issue with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well. They have sent a formal request to Russia’s Foreign Ministry. Russia has not given us an official response yet as to why they did so. After receiving an official explanation from Russia, we will state our opinion,” Asgarov said. “They do not openly tell us whether they gave the Iskander systems to the Armenian army or they sent them to the Russian military base in Armenia. That’s unclear to me. We’ll state our decision once we have received an official response.
Russia, as a Minsk Group co-chairing country, is supposed to be neutral so that this Karabakh conflict can be settled, he stressed.
In regard to US Secretary of State John Kerry’s statement, Asgarov said the co-chairing countries are not clear in their foreign policy.
“The heads of state make a statement but the ambassadors talk differently, so do the secretaries of state,” he added. “I don’t trust the Minsk Group any more and we should only country on our own power. That’s all!”
Asgarov stressed the need to change the status quo, calling for intensifying pressure on Armenia.
“Armenia should be put pressure on. There is a need to something more than making statements only,” he concluded.