The world’s leading countries assembled in Antalya from 15-16 November for the latest G20 Summit. Turkey, as hosts, invited Azerbaijan to attend for the first time and President Ilham Aliyev took the opportunity to present the country’s achievements, as well as the challenges it faced.
The summit was held in the shadow of recent murderous terrorist attacks in Ankara and Paris and President Aliyev was quick to offer condolences and support to the Turkish and French people.
At a working dinner on the first evening he pointed out that Azerbaijan continued to be active in the fight against international terrorism, having been among the first countries to join coalition forces in Afghanistan. He also reminded his colleagues in leadership of the massive humanitarian problems caused by Armenia’s policy of ethnic cleansing and occupation of Azerbaijani lands that had displaced around one million of his compatriots. He also reminded them of their responsibilities:
Unfortunately, during this period, the international community failed to demonstrate its resolve in the resolution of this conflict, while the decisions and resolutions of the world’s leading international organisations, including the UN Security Council, were not implemented and the norms of international law were not respected.
Despite this huge impediment to progress the president also recalled, in an article prepared for the summit, the progress his country had made in its 24 years of renewed independence. This naturally included reference to the 1994 Contract of the Century that had paved the way for an energy policy that had been extremely important for both the global economy and Azerbaijan’s independent development.
The country was also contributing to the regional economy with its communication and transport projects:
Azerbaijan plays an active role in establishing transnational communication lines and transport/transit corridors with modern infrastructure within the region and beyond. Today, Azerbaijan has already become the region’s transport and logistics centre. The Baku International Sea Port, commissioned in 2014, the modern international air transport system and, finally, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, to be operational in the foreseeable future, will make Azerbaijan central to the East-West and North-South transport corridors, and place it at the heart of the Europe-Asia exchange.
Aside from economic advance, the president also noted that multiculturalism is well reflected in Azerbaijan and the country was increasingly active on the global stage:
Today, Azerbaijan is recognised as important in realising an independent policy in the international arena, distinguished by its principled position and contributing to the resolution of global problems. Azerbaijan constantly develops its bilateral and multilateral relations, based on equality, mutual confidence and beneficial cooperation with the world’s countries and international organisations. As a result, Azerbaijan was elected to the United Nations Security Council with the support of 155 countries, and contributed to peace and security and the resolution of global problems.
The president surely had an eye on the big picture; his final call was for a common strategy to ensure stability in the global energy market and more generally, but topically, to increase the global economy’s resistance to crises.