By the decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan dated 7 July, 2021 on “the new division of economic regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan’’, two new economic regions were organized in liberated territories: ‘Karabakh economic region’ and ‘East Zangazur economic region’.
The creation of a new Karabakh economic region was important for the restoration and rapid development of the ancient Karabakh region, which has a rich historical and cultural heritage and mysterious nature, and we believe that it will make Azerbaijan stronger in the near future. The establishment of the East Zangazur economic region on the border with Armenia serves the same purpose.
Returning to power in 1993 at the request of the people, nationwide leader Heydar Aliyev decided to invite large foreign oil companies to Azerbaijan, and the ‘New Oil Strategy’ was quickly developed. At that time, negotiations began with foreign companies on the exploitation of the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli fields. On September 20, 1994, 13 companies (Amoko, BP, McDermott, Yunocal, SOCAR, LUKOIL, Statoil, Exxon, Turkish Petroleum, Penzoyl, Itochu, Remco, Delta) from 8 countries of the world (Azerbaijan, USA, Great Britain, Russia, Turkey, Norway, Japan, Saudi Arabia) signed a ‘Production Sharing Agreement’ known as ‘Contract of the Century’.
The oil strategy laid the foundation for Azerbaijan’s future development, and today Azerbaijan’s economy accounts for 70 percent of the GDP of the South Caucasus. According to all economic indicators, Azerbaijan is a leader in the region. The largest transnational Baku-Tbilisi-Jeyhan oil, Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas and Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway projects in the region have formed Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey strategic cooperation.
Azerbaijan’s role and significant share in the implementation of large transnational projects such as TANAP and TAP, distinguished by their geopolitical and economic significance in recent years, and the implementation of the “Shahdeniz-2” project are a logical continuation of the great oil strategy established by “the Contract of the Century”. These projects, on the one side, strengthen Azerbaijan’s position in the world as an important economic and energy partner, and on the other side, ensure the large revenues from gas export in the future.
Today, the hydrocarbon resources produced in Azerbaijan, which has become a major energy exporter, are delivered to European and world markets through oil and gas pipelines, terminals and railways. The integration of Azerbaijan into the international community, which has become an active participant and center of economic processes and major energy projects in the world, is accelerating every year, and our country makes important contributions to Europe’s energy security.
The ‘Treaty of the Century’ has brought great benefits to our country not only in the economic sphere, but also in the political and diplomatic spheres. Azerbaijan has chaired the UN Security Council, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, the Non-Aligned Movement and a number of authoritative international organizations. Today, Azerbaijan is invited to the G20 summit. Azerbaijan is a member of the family of space countries.
As a result of the rapid development of our country in recent decades, Azerbaijan, which was previously a recipient of international aid, has become a donor country. This status has opened new prospects and opportunities for our country in the international arena.
Thus, at present, Azerbaijan regularly lends a helping hand to countries facing crisis situations. Such assistance has been provided since 2011 to many countries in Asia, Europe, Africa and Latin America. In addition, the partnership with international financial and donor institutions are being developed, and joint projects are being implemented with the United Nations Development Program, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Islamic Development Bank and other international financial and donor institutions.
Technical assistance projects have also been developed, and support has been provided for education and training programs. According to the relevant decree of President Ilham Aliyev, in the framework of the chairmanship of the Non-Aligned Movement in 2019-2022, every year 40 students are studying in Azerbaijan from member countries of this influential international organization, along with their peers from OİC countries with full scholarships since 2018.
Azerbaijan has provided humanitarian and financial assistance to more than 30 countries, including the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Azerbaijan has made a voluntary financial contribution of $10 million to the World Health Organization, half of which were intended for the NAM member states.
In order to develop the non-oil sector in Azerbaijan, ample opportunities for foreign investment have been created. Examples are Sumgayit Chemical Industrial Park and Alat Free Economic Zone. Founded in 2012, Sumgayit Chemical Industrial Park envisages the production of agricultural and medical chemicals, household chemicals, construction chemicals, electronic and engineering chemicals, polymers, as well as industrial equipment. On 1 July, 2021, President Ilham Aliyev laid the foundation of the Alat Free Economic Zone.
Baku International Seaport will be its center. This economic zone will not only serve the formation of transport and logistics in the country, but also accelerate the process of attracting investment. In general, the creation of such an economic zone will expand Azerbaijan’s capabilities as a transit country and have a positive impact on more cargo transportation in the country. Azerbaijan’s location on the North-South and East-West international transport corridors creates a rich transit potential for the new port.
Thus, Alat settlement is located at the intersection of roads and railways passing through the territory of the republic. With the addition of waterways, there is a basis for the area to become an international transport hub with extensive export potential. The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway will lay the groundwork for the formation of an efficient and sustainable logistics chain that will transport goods to Europe or by ship to the East.
At present, the demining of the territories of Karabakh, the return of IDPs to their homes, the rapid implementation of infrastructure projects in those areas, and the repair and restoration work are priorities for our country.
Regular visits of the Azerbaijan president to the liberated lands are being carried out, and repair-restoration work has already begun. In this regard, President Ilham Aliyev said: “We will turn Karabakh into a paradise. All instructions have already been given. All work is being done, it will be done in a planned way, and we will live in these lands forever”.
The state budget for 2021 envisages 2.2 billion manat (1USD=1.7 AZN) for construction work in Karabakh. A number of friendly countries have expressed their desire to participate in the process of restoring our liberated territories. Concrete cooperation has already begun with companies from Turkey, Hungary, Italy, the United Kingdom, Israel, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, South Korea, China, Japan, Russia e.t.c.
Karabakh has been declared a ‘Green Zone’ by President Ilham Aliyev, and natural energy will be used there, as the region is rich in solar, wind and water resources. At the same time, ‘Smart Village’ and ‘Smart City’ projects based on advanced technologies will be implemented in the liberated lands. This will cause less damage to the environment, create a developed transport infrastructure, better ensure the safety of the population, provide uninterrupted utilities, apply modern technological innovations, and create ample opportunities for local and foreign investment.
On 4 October 2021, President Aliyev laid the foundation of the ‘Araz Valley Economic Zone’ Industrial Park in the newly created East Zangazur Economic Region.
We believe that the member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, including the friendly State of Kuwait, which has always closely supported Azerbaijan, will benefit from the investment climate created in the liberated territories and mutually beneficial cooperation will be further expanded.