Senior presidential administration official: Azerbaijan`s UN Security Council membership and Eurovision triumph put the country at the center of the world`s attention

A senior official at the Azerbaijani President`s Administration has praised the country`s gaining membership of the UN Security Council and winning the Eurovision song contest.
"These two remarkable events have put Azerbaijan at the center of the world`s attention," chief of socio-political affairs department at the Presidential Administration, Ali Hasanov, told a news conference as the country is hosting the Eurovision-2012.
He said the government of Azerbaijan had carried out a comprehensive preparatory work ahead of Europe`s largest music contest.
Commenting on some foreign organizations` and media`s accusations of poor security measures and human right violations in the country, the presidential administration official said "the Azerbaijani government has taken all measures to ensure the socio-political security during the Eurovision".
"We have strengthened security measures in connection with the Eurovision song contest. We have guaranteed the security and safety of all the guests coming to Baku."
Responding to a question on the activity of foreign media bureaus in Azerbaijan, Hasanov said there were 35 offices of foreign media outlets in the country. He said each foreign journalist accredited in Azerbaijan was "free to use all the rights used by their Azerbaijani counterparts". Hasanov added there were no problems with regard to the activity of foreign journalists in Azerbaijan.
The presidential administration official also condemned Iran`s anti-Azerbaijani propaganda on the eve of the Eurovision contest.
He said he discussed the issue during his visit to Iran, adding "the Azerbaijani state is pursing an independent policy, which is based solely on national interests". Hasanov said Azerbaijan was pursing a good neighborhood policy and that the country would never allow its territory to be used against other country.
He said some Western media and organizations were also conducting anti-Azerbaijan campaigns, adding "among them are the Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, one TV channel and two media outlets in Germany, Guardian and the BBC".
Hasanov specifically singled out the Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, criticizing their reports and saying "what they are doing is just attempting to tarnish Azerbaijan`s international image". "This may result in their losing trust and confidence of the Azerbaijani people."
In response to questions on recent territorial claims by Georgia against Azerbaijan, Hasanov said: "Some forces are concerned about the Azerbaijan-Georgia partnership in the South Caucasus, so they are trying to undermine it."
"Azerbaijan and Georgia mutually recognize their borders on the basis of OSCE documents, and any territorial changes are out of question."
Commenting on Azerbaijan`s fulfillment of international commitments, the presidential administration official said "we have not faced serious criticism so far".
"Twenty per cent of Azerbaijan`s territories have been under occupation for more than 20 years, every ninth Azerbaijani is a refugee or IDP, and there are four UN Security Council resolutions demanding an unconditional withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces from our occupied lands.
Hasanov said: "But Armenia continues to disregard these demands, and the international organizations continue to turn a blind eye on this. Azerbaijan has chosen a path of European integration. And the fact there is no pressure on Armenia proves that the international organizations fail to fulfill their commitments."
On preparation for the Eurovision, the official said the government of Azerbaijan spent 50 million manats on the contest.
He said: "The construction of the Baku Crystal Hall, the expansion of the Seaside National Park, the building of roads as well as other measures are part of large-scale construction and redevelopment work across the country."
He also commented on the resettlement of residents from the construction sites, saying "they have all their rights ensured".
"They either receive compensations or get more comfortable houses."
On the Azerbaijan-NATO relations, Hasanov said the country was continuing its cooperation with the Alliance in building regional peace and ensuring security in the South Caucasus.
"As regards the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, there have not been any real results in its settlement because of Armenia`s non-constructive position."
"And we pin great hopes on NATO in this issue," the presidential administration official added.



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