Ziyafat Asgarov on the 2017 Budget

Ziyafat Asgarov

“The budget is our primary financial document. I think that, despite various discussions, an approved budget is a very prudent thing. At a time when a financial and economic crisis is continuing in the world, Azerbaijan’s economy has thus far managed to protect itself well enough from risks. Nevertheless, we have certain difficulties.”

This statement was given to the APA in an interview by Ziyafat Asgarov, first deputy chairman of the National Assembly and head of the Committee for Defense, Security and Struggle Against Corruption. According to him, Azerbaijan is a country that is open to the world:

“We are an integral part of the world economy. But despite this, the correct policy in the economic, social and other spheres of Azerbaijan has enabled the country to protect itself. As you know, a road map for our national economy was drawn out with a recent decree from the president of Azerbaijan. This road map will become the primary document for the post-oil era. Several varied directions are specified in it. This road map will enable Azerbaijan to further develop, strengthen and improve the welfare of the population.”

“We cannot ever allow ourselves to reduce the military budget”

Ziyafat Asgarov, who spoke of amendments to a number of laws connected with economizing budget expenditures, stated that they will not apply to the military sector:

“Economizing is always a necessity. In a period when budget assets are both plentiful and meager. On whole, economizing is a good quality. But if you pay attention there are not any problems with regards to the military budget. Our goal is that the military strength of Azerbaijan will further develop as it has done until this moment. After all, we know our responsibilities, since Armenia has occupied 20 percent of the territory of Azerbaijan. In this sense, we cannot ever allow ourselves to reduce the military budget.”

The Armenians gave ill-timed question


Speaking of his participation in the next session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, Asgarov stated that the Armenians had once more organized a provocation at the meeting:

“They presented questions, uttered thoughts, that were ill-timed and illogical and didn’t have any relevance to the topic. This time, they presented ill-timed questions to the chief of the General Staff of Turkey. For example, in the course of discussions about the situation in Afghanistan they suddenly asked, “27 countries have recognized the ‘Armenian Genocide’, when will Turkey recognize it?” Moreover, they asked this of the chief of the General Staff. It’s an illogical, ill-timed, completely senseless question. And you all witnessed how the chief of the General Staff answered them … The question presented to Mr. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu was also completely senseless and ill-timed. Both of their responses to the Armenians were met with applause in the hall. This signifies that the countries of the world and their deputies are fed up with the topic of the so-called genocide. Wherever they might be, regardless of whether or not it’s appropriate, they push this contrived problem, and they know nothing else. Selecting provocative questions and creating a fuss has become their profession. Çavuşoğlu correctly admonished them in his response that it’s not worth talking about a made-up genocide and forgetting about the present. The true genocide is the Khojaly genocide, committed by you Armenians. It took place not in the deep past, but recently, why do you forget about it? This event took place before everyone’s eyes, and the world should pronounce its opinion regarding this issue. Having expanded this topic, our deputies also brought the question of debating the Khojaly genocide for examination by the members of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, rather than creating a commotion on the base of a date selected from the distant past. The President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, also announced to the Armenians on several occasions that, “if you are raising this question, let’s open the archives. Why are you afraid of opening the archives? Let’s create an international commission so that historians can work in the archives and find the truth.” But the Armenians won’t go for this. If the genocide really did take place, why don’t the Armenians want to open the archives? It follows that this is a lie and this topic is an instrument for their political games.”

In his interview Asgarov also spoke about the visit of Armenian activists to Azerbaijan:

“I tell you, that first of all the visits of Armenian activists to Azerbaijan and of ours to Armenia is not a new phenomenon. That is, I don’t see a threat for our national security if, within the framework of this platform, some of their representatives come here. They all the same aren’t going to visit restricted-access sites, nobody will allow them in. And what’s bad about the fact that they openly acknowledge Armenia’s aggressive policies towards Azerbaijan, criticize Armenia, speak about the realities of Azerbaijan, show the aggressive essence of official Yerevan? I see this as normal. Let the Armenians themselves acknowledge that their country is the aggressor, acknowledge the crimes committed in Azerbaijan, that they masterminded the Khojaly genocide, that their political leaders carried out these crimes… Let them speak about this, acknowledge it. There is nothing bad about this.”

“Armenia is a puppet state”

The deputy, touching on statements by Armenian official figures against Azerbaijan, believes that all these moves are aimed at an internal audience in Armenia:

“Armenia’s total budget is just $2 billion. Someone should have asked, what can you do against Azerbaijan with this budget, poor guy? Simply put, during the events in April of this year they received a fitting answer to their provocations.


received a nice slap from Azerbaijan this year, in the direct sense of the word. They still can’t come to their senses after this, and are trying to convince the internal audience that Armenia has the same sort of weapons, is performing the same sort of reconnaissance work, and so on. And all this without any sort of basis. Azerbaijan is a fairly strong state. Armenia ran up against this strength and still hasn’t come to its senses. This is why they are trying to calm the population in this way. But there is a saying: where do you go after you’ve reached the end of the rope? In reality, it’s incorrect to call this country the Republic of Armenia. This structure called Armenia is an outpost, 80 percent of the economy isn’t its own, but that of a different state. Can this be called an independent state now? At present Armenia is ruled by hunger, poverty and social tension. People are leaving Armenia. Because there’s already nothing there on which to survive, and the regime is a military junta. In short, a puppet state.”

“We are waiting for Russia to give an official explanation”

To the question “Russia, co-chair of the OSCE’s Minsk Group, recently made the decision to create a united army with Armenia. How do you think we should gauge this move from a country that is acting as mediator in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?” the vice-speaker said:

“I spoke about this question with the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He sent an official request to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia. Russia didn’t provide us an official response regarding the purpose of making this decision. One group of experts says that this is against NATO. Another says that this is connected with Armenia’s security. But we will give our opinion once we’ve received an official explanation from Russia.”

The deputy chair of the parliament also noted that Russia has not officially revealed the purpose of selling Armenia Iskander rocket systems:

“On an official level it hasn’t been revealed, there is expert opinion. This should be clarified officially. We will express our decision after receiving an official response. Naturally, Russia as co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group should be neutral in order for this conflict to be resolved.”

Commenting on US Secretary of State Kerry’s statement on Nagorno-Karabakh, Asgarov believes that the status quo must be changed:

“The US ambassador says one thing, and officials there say something completely different. There are no specifics regarding the foreign policies of the co-chair countries. The heads of state say one thing, later say something else, and the secretaries of state a third thing. So, because of this we have lost faith in the Minsk Group. They will not do anything. We are relying on our own strength, and that’s all! The status quo will change. Pressure must be put on Armenia, there must be more than just statements.”

“What is your opinion?”

In response to the journalist’s question “In each of the three co-chair countries (the USA, France and Russia) there are acting representatives of the separatist regime of Nagorno-Karabakh. Why does Azerbaijan not strongly protest against such moves, which contradict the missions of mediator countries”, the deputy responded that he no longer has faith in the Minsk Group:

“This is one of the primary reasons for the lack of faith. In reality, what kind of mediator are you if on the one hand you’re involved in resolving the Azerbaijani-Armenian and Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and on the other hand you not only create a delegation of the separatist regime, but also carry on official negotiations with its leadership? Of course we are concerned by this. This problem also needs to be resolved. The co-chair countries should clear up this question. The Minsk Group was created according to four directives from the UN Security Council, you three are permanent members of the UN Security Council, so why don’t you follow these directives? What are your intentions? Tell us openly, so that we can know what to do. Although we already know what to do, and how we will act. Such two-facedness is impermissible.”

The vice speaker, touching on the topic of the return of the seven districts and the placement of peacekeepers in the region, said that this is more of a political question:

“As was indicated in the statement from the President, we are for the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in stages. Whether it be five or seven districts, I cannot precisely say. Regarding the placement of peacekeepers in the region, I can say that all questions included in the topic of negotiations are closely tied to one another. Because of this I will not exclude this question from the topic of discussion.”

“We are awaiting the court’s decision”

In his interview, the deputy also spoke of events connected with the Ministry of National Security. Responding to a journalist’s question, Asgarov noted that reforms are being made to the security structure:

“On the whole, in each document we adopt, there are reforms. The President signed a number of orders and decrees connected with reforms in this direction. Of course, the laws adopted must support these reforms. For example, not long ago we once more prepared and adopted a legal project “on Martial Law”. We first adopted this law in 1994. It was a good law then, as it is now. But after the adoption of this law in 1994, we adopted a new constitution in 1995, a military doctrine, concept of security, etc. Because of this, we prepared and adopted this document once more. If our army is improved, its regulatory and legal framework should be improved as well. We are continuing work in this direction. As regards those arrested, let’s await the court’s decision, since the investigation is ongoing.”

Asgarov also noted that at the time he didn’t know of what had taken place. He thinks that the former minister heading the Ministry of National Security is responsible for this:

“Any guilty individual, of course, will be held accountable. What punitive measures will be taken after this will depend on the court’s decision.”

In his interview, Asgarov also touched on the question of changing the qualifying age for receiving a worker’s pension. He said that this project was brought to the National Assembly. At present it is in the committee on labor and social policy and is being prepared for the summer session.

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