Azerbaijani president: Belt and Road an important contribution to Central Asia’s development

In this recent episode of the CGTN series, Leaders Talk, Wang Guan, travels to the Azerbaijani capital, Baku, to sit down with President Ilham Aliyev.

He notes that this year is the 100th birth anniversary of the current president’s father, former President Heydar Aliyev, who is, it is noted, not only the founding father of independent Azerbaijan, but also of China-Azerbaijan friendship. 

President Aliyev emphasises that his father created a framework for cooperation with China based on mutual respect and friendship. And, as illustrated in photos shown by Wang Guan, during his China visits, Heydar Aliyev also took particular care to visit ordinary Chinese families and to learn about their daily lives. 

President Aliyev noted that his father was already well aware of developments in China from the time when he served in the Soviet government. In the history of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), Heydar Aliyev held the highest position ever attained by someone of Muslim heritage.

The current president considers the relations between China and Azerbaijan to be on a long journey of strategic cooperation. They are based on an alignment of major positions in international relations, for example with regard to sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in internal affairs.

All this also helps to create a favourable backdrop for economic cooperation, particularly within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which, in turn, contributes to regional security, stability and development. The progress of the BRI enables Azerbaijan to leverage its geographical location to its advantage, through the development of both the Caspian seaport and international rail links. 

Noting that he has met President Xi Jinping on many occasions, both in China and at international gatherings, Aliyev describes his Chinese counterpart as a person of vision and intelligence. This, he notes, contributes to the fact that the number of international friends of China is growing year by year. 

Aliyev also praises China for the assistance it provides to other countries, particularly when other countries refuse to do so. For example, China was the only country to supply Covid-19 vaccines to Azerbaijan when they were first developed. His letter to President Xi drew an immediate response, making Azerbaijan one of the first countries to start a vaccination programme during the global pandemic.

With regard to the question of Taiwan, he said that Azerbaijan always supports China’s territorial integrity and reunification. HIs country’s support for the one-China principle is absolutely unchanged and will never be changed.

Turning to negative western perceptions of developing countries like China and Azerbaijan, Aliyev says that the basic reason is his country’s pursuit of independent policies based on the national interest. Besides the western media, President Aliyev also excoriated the role played by supposedly independent NGOs such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, noting that their agendas did not diverge from those of their funders.

The full interview with President Aliyev is embedded below.

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