President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev was interviewed by Euronews channel following the official opening of the fourth Global Baku Forum.
-Mr. President, how important is it for oil and gas producing countries like Azerbaijan to diversify their economies, to change their business models in the current oil prices turmoil?
-Actually we are working on diversification of economy for many years. But now when the oil prices are very low this becomes our main priority. We managed to reduce dependence on oil and gas, and now oil and gas is only 30 percent of our GDP. But our target is to create a model of development which will not depend on oil prices. And it is happening. We are introducing now a broad package of reforms which are supported by IMF. Main concern is the areas of non-oil sector – agriculture, IT development, tourism and other sectors. Therefore, I am sure that in the coming years dependence on oil in Azerbaijan will even reduce.
-How concerned are you about the impact of falling oil prices on global security particularly in the Middle East?
-We don’t see a direct link between reduction of oil prices and global security. But, definitely, in the long term if oil prices remain low, it may lead to some problems, economic and social problems because some countries are used to have a lot of revenues from oil sales that already reduced. There could be cuts in budgets. Therefore, that could happen. But the main objective of every oil producing country, I think, is to reduce dependence on oil, to invest in innovation, education, modern technologies and to export different projects rather than oil and gas. If it happens, then, I think, security in the region will be provided at the high level.